Published: 19:57, May 20, 2024
Widodo urges action on water crisis at Bali forum
By Leonardus Jegho in Jakarta
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (left) shows other visiting leaders the mangrove area of Ngurah Rai Forest Park (Tahura) during the 10th World Water Forum in Denpasar on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on May 20, 2024. (PHOTO / AFP)

Indonesian President Joko Widodo opened the 10th World Water Forum on May 20, urging that participants strengthen common commitment and formulate concrete actions for “water management that is inclusive and sustainable”.

“Let us imagine this, of the 72 percent of the Earth’s surface that is covered by water, only 1 percent can be accessed and used as drinking water and for sanitation purposes,” Widodo said in a speech launching the weeklong summit on the resort island of Bali.

The president said that meaningful peace and common prosperity could be realized so long as people adhere to three basic principles: avoidance of competition, equality, and inclusive cooperation

He said that by next year, 500 million small farmers who produce 80 percent of the world’s food supply will suffer from drought.

READ MORE: Tech solutions to water crisis can mitigate climate crisis

Themed "Water for Shared Prosperity", the May 18-25 event will be attended by over 13,000 participants from around the world, including high-level officials, experts, business executives, and civil society leaders.

Li Guoying, China’s water resources minister, will discuss China’s water management and practices and the country’s successful strategies in addressing water challenges.

“No water, no life and no growth,” Widodo said.

Widodo mentioned Bali’s community-based rice paddy irrigation system known as “subak”, noting that the principle behind it is aligned with the forum’s theme.

He said that unlocking common prosperity can be achieved with “one key, namely collaboration.”

The president said that meaningful peace and common prosperity could be realized so long as people adhere to three basic principles: avoidance of competition, equality, and inclusive cooperation.

He said collaboration helped in revitalizing the Citarum River and developing solar panels in the Cirata Reservoir in Indonesia’s West Java province.

Fauchon, the head of the France-based think tank that organizes the triennial forum, called on all countries to guarantee people’s rights to water and include this in their national constitution, laws, and regulations

Widodo, who will step down from his post in October, also introduced president-elect Prabowo Subianto to forum participants.

World Water Council president Loic Fauchon called on the global community to become “water warriors” as more drastic actions are needed to promote water security.

Fauchon, the head of the France-based think tank that organizes the triennial forum, called on all countries to guarantee people’s rights to water and include this in their national constitution, laws, and regulations.

“Get involved, and especially you, young people in this room and elsewhere. Take the hand we are holding out to you,” Fauchon said.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for investment and maritime affairs, said that the forum would result in “concrete deliverables”.

“We will carry out 120 strategic projects related to water worth $9.4 billion,” Pandjaitan said in a statement issued on May 18.

The projects are set to include some that follow up on Indonesia’s initiatives outlined in the Group of 20 Summit in 2022, which Indonesia also hosted in Bali.

Pandjaitan said Indonesia has proposed several initiatives, including the promotion of sustainable water management in small island countries, the creation of a center of excellence on water and climate resilience in the Asia-Pacific region, and the establishment of a World Lake Day

He said a ministerial declaration will be issued at the end of the forum and this will be submitted to the United Nations.

Pandjaitan said Indonesia has proposed several initiatives, including the promotion of sustainable water management in small island countries, the creation of a center of excellence on water and climate resilience in the Asia-Pacific region, and the establishment of a World Lake Day.

READ MORE: Officials: HK strives to recharge global maritime industry

Elsewhere, SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk was at the forum to launch the firm’s Starlink satellite internet services in Indonesia.

“I am so happy that I can bring connectivity to places with no internet, or as you have just seen the demonstration, (areas) with small bandwidth connectivity,” Musk told media at the May 19 launch ceremony.  

He said his company will “very possibly” invest in Indonesia in the future.

 

Prime Sarmiento in Hong Kong contributed to this story.

 

The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily.