With frantic pace of development in Asia and the Pacific region, and projected urbanization balloon that could see an estimated 2.5 billion people or 55% of the population living in urban areas by 2030, the Asia-Pacific region of which Bhutan is an integral part, is seen to face a major water crisis in the coming decade.
The ongoing Asia-Pacific Water Summit, also known as the 4th APWS, which kick-started Saturday in Kumamoto City, Japan is therefore a timely reminder of the impending woes the region is in to face and the measures that can be taken thereof.
The event brings together high-level delegates from the Asia-Pacific region, including heads of state and representatives from international organizations, to discuss a variety of water-related issues. Among others the member states will actively delve on long-standing efforts in groundwater conservations, providing insights on water and its relation to youth, gender, climate, governance, finance, and the SDGs.
Addressing the event online, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said Bhutan’s water conservation efforts is one unique story originates from the Golden Throne and that which puts water in the heart of national solidarity and unity in such an unprecedented time.
He said that at a time when pandemic peaked world over, causing immense disruption to education, employment and other livelihoods, His Majesty The King called upon the young people of Bhutan to step up and embrace activities that are redirected to ensure abundant water resources by engaging our youth to in building robust water infrastructure for the people and the nation.
The PM said the timeless initiative of His Majesty would not just be for the food securities but contribute to national self-reliance and global accomplishment, and that conflicts and wars in future can originate over access to water and that we must solve this problem once and for all in Bhutan.
With the royal initiative and intervention, thousands of youth came forward to work on water projects during the peak of the pandemic and gave birth to the De-suung National Service Water Project and ensured communities across the country were connected with water for drinking and.
Lyonchhen said in solving the water issues, His Majesty gave the youth of Bhutan a new purpose and renewed spirit that our young people are ensuring that water, the very source of life, is secured with their own hands.
With about 500 million people in the region still without access to at least basic water supplies, and 1.14 billion lack access to basic sanitation, water security remains a significant challenge.
The agriculture sector will also need to produce much more food for the growing population, competing for already diminishing water resources. Add to that the constant threat of disasters exacerbated by climate change that is also prevalent in the region.
However, with His Majesty at the helm of affairs and tackling the water issue when these talks are yet to fruition, the citizens of Bhutan have a brighter future to look into – at least for now.