DUSHANBE, Tajikistan, Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain Wednesday highlighted the importance of water in human life and called upon the international community to join hands in striving to end poverty, provision of quality healthcare and sustainable development across the globe.

“I invite all nations of the world to put all racial, ethnic, geographic and political reservations aside and to work hand in hand for the collective good of humanity,” Associated Press of Pakistan reported him saying at the inaugural session of high level international conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development” 2018-28 being held in the Tajikistan capital from June 20 to 21.

Besides President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan, the opening session was also addressed by President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan, Chief Executive of Afghanistan Abdullah Abdullah and other heads of delegations.

President Mamnoon said from food and energy security to human and environmental health, water was certainly at the core of sustainable development, nationally, regionally and globally.

Water resources and the range of services they provide, underpin poverty eradication, economic growth and environmental sustainability, he said adding effective and efficient management of water resources, therefore, was key for inclusive and sustainable growth.

It is critical for agriculture, energy and industrial sectors, which are the drivers of growth and economy, the President added.

He said water was central to improvements in social well-being and inclusive growth, affecting billions of people.

“It is this recognition that led to the adoption of International Decade for Action on Water by the General Assembly which promotes greater focus on the sustainable development and integrated management of water resources,” he added.

The President said that the World Economic Forum identified water crises as the third most impactful global risk in the 2016 and 2017 Global Risks Reports.

Water related challenges are spread across the globe and do not recognise geographic borders. Increased risks of flooding and droughts due to climatic and other impacts, extreme weather events and water-related disasters have aggravated the situation, posing existential questions, he added.

The President said comprehensive, concrete efforts based on clear plans need to be undertaken to address the situation.

This includes provision of corresponding financial resources and international cooperation, failing which the situation would become even more critical, undermine the sustainable development gains achieved overtime; retard economic growth and push people back to poverty, he added.

Melting glaciers and climatic and environmental changes have further complicated the situation.

The President, however, added that Pakistan was determined to address this challenge and had made steady progress in improving access to safe drinking water during the Millennium |Development Goal (MDG) period, while taking various measures towards inclusive growth through water security, value addition, research, modernisation and best practices of sustainable water management.