"Water is among the most urgent of problems related to the environment. The magnitude of the problems is threatening. As a result they will determine the destinies of all people on our planet. Taking care to preserve and increase water resources is in the interests of everyone," SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov said at a plenary session of the high-level International Conference under the International Decade of Action "Water for Sustainable Development," 2018-2028, held in Dushanbe, the capital of the Republic of Tajikistan, on 20-21 June 2018.
The Conference, co-sponsored by the Government of Tajikistan, the United Nations and other partners, is attended by the heads of state and government, delegations from UN member states, heads of international organisations and more than 1,500 experts from nearly 100 countries.
The opening ceremony was addressed by President of Tajikistan Emomali Rakhmon, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, President of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain, Chief Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN who read a message from the UN Secretary-General, the President of the UN General Assembly, a number of high-ranking representatives of the member states and UN departments.
Addressing the Conference plenary session the SCO Secretary-General said that "the vast territory of the SCO has nearly 6 million rivers and lakes, mountain ranges which are considered to be "water towers" occupy an area of 12.5 million square kilometres and the total volume of water resources is estimated at close to 10 million cubic kilometres. At first glance, there are enough water resources for development. At the same time some sections of the population continue to be short of water, and lack of water hinders sustainable socio-economic development," Rashid Alimov said.
The SCO Secretary-General also reviewed the SCO summit held in Qingdao, China, on 9-10 June 2018, where the heads of state praised Tajikistan's initiative on the International Decade of Action "Water for Sustainable Development," 2018-2028, and welcomed the holding of the international water conference in Dushanbe.
In Mr Alimov's opinion, "Emomali Rakhmon's speech at the opening ceremony outlined the scale of this International Decade, stressed the need to strengthen international water architecture to provide full and timely support for water-related sustainable development goals and tasks" while the social capital gained in implementing the previous water initiatives could form the basis for implementing the UN Secretary-General's Action Plan as part of the new International Water Decade.
Rashid Alimov reminded his audience that the first words written by the first philosopher on Earth were about water. "In the Tajik language the words ob and obodoni (environmental development) are derived from the root ob which means water. In other words, there is no development without water. Concern for water issues is central to every individual and to the entire human civilisation," the SCO Secretary-General said.
As part of the Conference three plenary sessions and 12 panel discussions, six parallel events and pre-conference events such as the Women's Forum and Children's Forum were held.
The Conference is expected to adopt the Dushanbe Declaration and an Appeal for Action setting forth the recommendations for implementing the International Decade for Action, worked out during the two-day Conference.
On 21 December 2016, the UN General Assembly passed Tajikistan-sponsored Resolution 71/222 declaring 2018-2028 the years of the International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development.
The Dushanbe Conference was the first major international event called on to continue and expand the scale of discussion of the International Decade after it was officially launched by the President of the UN General Assembly on 22 March 2018 in New York.