Duterte urges Asia-Pacific nations to be bolder, wiser in addressing water challenges

President Duterte has called for a bolder vision and urgent action to address water-related issues confronting the Asia-Pacific region, saying countries have to decide wisely for the benefit of current and future generations.

President Duterte (Photo courtesy of Malacañang)

Duterte made this pronouncement in his video message during the Heads of States and Government Meeting at the 4th Asia-Pacific Water Summit in Kumamoto City, Japan.

The President addressed his fellow leaders, saying it was time to take immediate action.

“Excellencies, now is the time for bolder vision and urgent action. We need to decide wisely for ourselves and for future generations,” he said.

According to Duterte, access to water and related services should be a fundamental human right as it is vital for humans and ecosystems for survival and sustenance.

The President cited the Philippines as a lesson in caution and an example of the need for urgent action, stressing that despite the abundance of water in the country, there remains an enormous challenge to ensure the people’s universal access to safe, affordable, and accessible water.

"This requires an urgent sense of community action in the region, an integrated and coherent policy, and the resolve to create opportunities for investment and collaboration for technological solutions,” he said.

Duterte enumerated several measures to address challenges, such as creating a robust regime for sustainable water management, using the best available science in water resource generation and climate-resilient infrastructure, and securing sustainable forest protection and watershed management.

He added that regional experts for technology development and transfer must also collaborate, and countries must promote transboundary benefits for the ordinary people’s development towards 2050 and beyond.

He likewise pointed out that solutions to water-related issues must come from government and non-government stakeholders alike.

“We need to forge a strong alliance between our strategic partners to address entrenched corporate compulsions to ensure environmental compliance and just economic, regulatory regimes,” Duterte said.

Meanwhile, President Duterte commended the Japanese government for the continued initiative in successfully organizing the 4th Asia-Pacific Water Summit.

Introducing the President during the leaders’ meeting, Climate Change Commission Secretary Robert Borje said central to the Philippines’s position in climate change mitigation and adaptation is climate justice.

“To the least responsible, to those with the least resources, to those most exposed, we need to do more,” Borje said.

In his "Talk to the People" last week, President Duterte said developed countries must compensate developing nations suffering from climate change.

Borje also expressed the Philippines' solidarity with all nations that had to deal with water-related disasters brought about by climate change drivers.