KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has called for the setting up of a United Nations agency for water, saying that water is central to addressing issues related to climate change.
Natural Resources, Environment, and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the UN’s Water Action Agenda needs a framework that asserts water’s role as the pillar that connects social, environmental, economic and cultural outcomes.
Speaking at the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York yesterday, he said this should be made a permanent agenda in UN frameworks.
“The UN must continue to help establish mechanisms to enable developed countries to provide financial and technical assistance, as well as capacity development, to accelerate the achievement of SDG6 (Sustainable Development Goal 6),” he said.
Nik Nazmi also said the global community needs to acknowledge that the climate crisis is a water crisis.
“The world is facing water scarcity, inadequate provision for sanitation, as well as more intense and frequent disasters and extreme weather events,” he said.
He added that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change highlighted in their Sixth Assessment Report that the most vulnerable people are often disproportionately affected and pushed beyond adaptation limits, posing significant challenges for the developing global South.
“Climate change aggravates and widens the existing development gap. Water is central to addressing this issue.
“We need a framework for resilience, and it has to start with water, where climate, environment and development merge,” he said.
Nik Nazmi stressed that every development plan must consider water and its impacts, as the global community cannot afford to forgo the environment for the sake of growth, nor can actions for water be made a lesser priority compared to climate change, and vice versa.
He also shared Malaysia’s Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART) success in not only mitigating flood risks but also effectively easing traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur.
He stated that Malaysia has 97% and 85.4% access to water supply and sewerage service respectively, particularly in major cities, with a goal of reaching 98% coverage for clean water in rural areas and 90% sewerage coverage by the end of 2025, as he reaffirmed Malaysia’s commitment to water security and access to reliable, sufficient and quality water supply, as well as sanitation services. — Bernama