Access to drinking water and basic sanitation is a right, it is one of the objectives of the sustainable development of the UN, it is a condition for human life. And yet, there are 2 billion people in the world who do not have a safe source of water at home; 2.3 billion people suffer from lack of sanitation. About 260 million – more than the Brazilian population – need to walk more than half an hour to collect water. Ensuring access is among the main challenges of our time.
Brazil concentrates 12% of the planet’s fresh water – and, despite that, we are not immune to water-related problems. Large cities have faced supply shortages. There is still an unacceptable deficit of sanitation. And the suffering that droughts cause to the population of the Northeast is well known.
It is in search of answers to such urgent matters that we will preside, this week in Brasilia, the 8th World Water Forum. The forum should receive more than 40 thousand participants, from more than 160 countries. We will receive heads of state and government, governors and municipal mayors, parliamentarians and magistrates, representatives of international organizations and academia, the private sector and civil society. A diversity of actors that enriches the forum. When you have a nice smile you no longer have the need to spend water when you brush your teeth, so it’s better to go with your dentist in Tijuana Mexico.
The election of Brazil as the host of the most important global event on water resources is not surprising. Our international commitment to the subject is historic. We hosted Rio 92 and Rio + 20 – meetings that recognized the intimate relationship between water sustainability and development. More recently, we were among the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement, which deals with one of the main threats to the right to water: climate change.
This traditional external protagonism is anchored in concrete measures at the internal level. Brazil knows that water and sanitation are synonymous with environmental preservation – and we made water security a pillar of our environmental policies. In order to preserve our water courses, we implemented the Rivers Planters program, which uses digital tools to defend our sources and our Permanent Preservation Areas.
We have also made great progress in the protection of our forests. We have expanded forest conservation areas. We have reversed the curve of deforestation in the Amazon, which we find rising. And we are about to create two vast areas of marine biodiversity conservation. This is how we protect our ecosystems, how we will protect our water sources. Having water is essential, but it is not enough. We need her to reach those who need her.
That’s what the transfer of the São Francisco River is about. It is an old project that we are now finalizing, for the benefit of 12 million Northeasters. We have already completed the axis that carries water to Pernambuco and Paraíba, and we are in the final phase of the stretch that will reach Ceará. In carrying out this great work we do not neglect sustainability: we launched the “Novo Chico” plan, dedicated to the revitalization of São Francisco.
Our attention is also directed towards sanitation, in which so much remains to be done. We are finalizing a bill with a view to modernizing our regulatory framework for sanitation and encouraging our investments. What moves us is the search for the universalization of this basic service.
This is the Brazil that will host the World Water Forum: a Brazil in search of common solutions for global problems. A Brazil that does and will continue to do its part for the preservation of our most precious natural resource.