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Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the EU, I would like to welcome all of you.
We are here to launch the EU Water Initiative.
I would like to thank all partners who have joined the EU in this major initiative.
The EU has three main messages here in Johannesburg.
First, we must fight poverty through sustainable economic growth and development in the poor countries. Increased free trade and market access are crucial to achieve this.
A key way to achieve a better environment is by raising the standards of living in the developing countries.
Second, the rich countries should increase their development assistance. They should live up to their long-standing commitment to reach the 0.7 percent target.
But at the same time all countries should live up to good governance. It is essential for sustainable development.
Thirdly, we must take further steps to protect our environment. It is a moral obligation. We owe it to future generations.
We have to take care of our environment. We cannot survive on filthy water. And we cannot fight diseases without proper sanitation.
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I am honoured to launch today the EU’s ‘Water for Life’ initiative here in the Water Dome.
Water is crucial to all aspects of human life.
Water and sanitation is key to sustainable development, to health, to regional stability and economic stability.
Globalisation, population growth, industrialisation and urbanisation have increased the demand and pressures on water resources.
I believe we have an obligation to do the right thing – to solve the single biggest problem in the world: To provide clean drinking water and sanitation for every village, town and city on the planet.
Things which we in the developed nations take for granted.
By doing this we could save 2 million lives every year. Preventing half a billion people from suffering from serious diseases each and every year.
“And how much would this cost?” you may ask. It would be a one-off expense of $200 billion, but it may very well be humanity’s best investment to achieve development and sustainability. We have the technology and talent. It is achievable. We have to act.
We must preserve water resources for people and nature for present and future generations.
In 2000 1.1 billion people were without access to clean water and 2.4 billion people were without access to safe sanitation.
At the Millennium Summit we agreed on important goals – including the goal to halve the number of people without access to clean water by 2015.
The EU has been calling for an additional goal to halve by 2015 the number of people without access to safe sanitation.
We must provide access to safe drinking water and basic sanitary facilities to all people.
The EU invites governments, companies, financial institutions, NGO’s and local communities to a partnership on water for sustainable development.
We invite you to take part in the further development of the initiative.
The EU already spends close to 1.4 billion Euros per year on water resource development and management. The EU will allocate further funds. We call on others to do the same.
The initiative will focus on Africa and the Newly Independent States of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia.
The initiative is a sign of the European Union strong dedication to poverty eradication, health and sustainable development.
It is a sign of the European Union’s strong sense of responsibility.
I hope many of you will be ready to join us.