In the face of COVID-19 pandemic, G20 Water Ministers have affirmed commitment to cooperate closely, strive to maintain existing services and speed up access to safe and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services across the world.
The Ministers made the commitment during a virtual G20 Agriculture and Water Ministers held in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
South Africa, was the only representative from Africa that participated in the discussions, raisingcrucial issues that concern not only South Africa, but the region and the continent at large.
Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu joined in the discussions to strengthen policy cooperation towards food security and nutrition, as well as towards harnessing water management challenges. Furthermore, the Ministerial meeting highlighted the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food security and nutrition, hygiene, water and sanitation among other issues.
The G20 Ministerial committee adopted a Ministerial Declaration, which will ensure provision of adequate access to safe and affordable water to households, including in health care facilities in an effort to encourage hygenic practices.
The committee encouraged the international community to work more closely together, sharing innovation and best practices and maximise synergies towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 6.
Also raised was concern about the impact of water scarcity and poor water quality, further calling on countries to prioritise water demand management and conservation and substantially increase water use efficiency and water productivity.
In her speech, Sisulu said that the G20 Dialogue on Water was long overdue and that it came at a critical time of the unparalleled pandemic that puts water at the centre of all interventions.
“This current situation reawakened in us the notion that water is life and is central to all human development,” Minister Sisulu said.
Addressing the G20 Ministers, Sisulu endorsed the statement made by the European Union (EU) Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Janusz Wojciechowski, when he said “water is vitally important in our sustainability as the human species”.
The Minister said South Africa supports the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration.
“Water is a vital concern at all levels and water challenges affect human life, people’s livelihoods, global supply chains, food security, nutrition and ecosystems. It is crucial and urgent that we work towards attracting and increasing water-related investment, innovation, and water security, if we are to achieve the objectives of this forum,” said Sisulu