China's Minister of Water Resources Chen Lei said the government is planning to invest $636 billion through 2020 in various projects to harness water and prevent related disasters.
China is planning to invest $636 billion through 2020 in various projects to harness water and prevent related disasters. [swcc.org.cn]
Chen said the investment will mainly be channeled from various levels of government, while some of the projects are open to foreign investors.
"Investment will be scaled up in the coming decade and a water financing mechanism with a public budget and revenue as a major channel shall be set up," Chen said at the Ministerial Conference of the World Water Forum, which began on Monday.
No other country in the world faces more challenges in harnessing water than China, he said. The country has a large population with poor access to water, uneven distribution and frequent natural disasters such as floods and droughts.
He said China will continuously strengthen its water resources planning system and consolidate integrated water resources management.
To address water safety, Chen said the Chinese government has decided to speed up the construction of rural water supply projects so that they are completed by 2015.
Meanwhile, he said China will implement a strict water resources management system, create a society that prioritizes water and soil conservation and rehabilitation and intensify the protection of rivers and lakes.
The investments will be used to treat heavily polluted rivers and lakes and to enhance the recovery of water ecosystems in ecologically fragile areas, while attaching great importance to the effects of construction on the environment.
Chen made the commitments after 80 ministers from participating countries at the World Water Forum made a common declaration.
The declaration emphasizes the acceleration of the implementation of obligations linked to human welfare, water and sanitation, the guarantee of well being and health and focusing on the most vulnerable. They also insisted on improving wastewater management.
The ministers agreed that a global approach toward water, energy and food security will guarantee sustainable economic growth and job creation.
According to UN figures, an estimated 884 million people worldwide do not have access to safe water. Almost 1.5 million children die every year from water-borne diseases. Population growth, increasing urbanization, chemical pollution and invasive species are the main factors contributing to the deterioration of water quality. The consequences for the environment and for mankind are considerable, according to the UN.
Population growth is expected to lead to increases in global food demand and energy consumption, so it is evident that there must be a socioeconomic dimension considered when approaching water management, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said in a report published at the forum.