February 27, 2015

Mr Anuj Bishnoi, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources & River Rejuvenation, Government of India,

Mr Ramani Iyer, Chairman, CII Northern Regional Committee on Water & Director, Forbes Marshall Ltd,

Distinguished Delegates from ASEM members countries,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. On behalf of the Government of India and the Confederation of Indian Industries, I warmly welcome you to today’s ASEM Workshop on Water Resource Management through Efficient & Innovative Solutions.
  2. I am pleased to see the widespread interest and enthusiasm with which ASEM partners are participating in this Workshop. We have delegates from Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Czech Republic, the European Commission, Hungary, Singapore, Slovak Republic, the United Kingdom and Vietnam, among others, and many of you have travelled from your home countries to attend. In addition, we have excellent participation both from the public and private sectors in India, as well as from some multinational companies.
  3. As many of you know, the Asia Europe Meeting or ASEM as is popularly known, is a unique trans-regional platform for dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe, which has arisen out of the recognition that both continents would benefit from further strengthening their multifarious relationship, especially in the wake of the new challenges and exciting opportunities posed by the contemporary 21st century world.
  4. The ASEM dialogue addresses political, economic and socio-cultural issues, with the objective of deepening our engagement, in a spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership. The 11thASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting hosted by India in November 2013 marked the beginning of a new orientation in ASEM, as members agreed to move beyond discussions towards tangible, result-oriented initiatives on a voluntary basis.
  5. In this context, the Government of India has identified several areas for tangible cooperation, and has hosted Roundtables on "Energy Efficiency in Green Buildings” in September 2014, "Cooperation in Industrial R&D and Technology Alliances in the fields of Life Sciences, Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology & Medical Devices” in November 2014, and on "Innovations in Technologies for Disaster Rescue Efforts” in December 2014. Moreover, we will be hosting a Module for ASEM diplomats on "Diplomacy and Indian Foreign Policy” in April 2015, followed by a Symposium on "Non-invasive Diagnostic Technologies for Diabetes & Treatment of Diabetes as a Lifestyle Disease” later this year.
  6. The Chair's Statement at the Tenth ASEM Summit in Milan had noted that in order to stimulate tangible cooperation between Europe and Asia on water related issues, re-affirming of ASEM’s engagement to bi-regional cooperation between the Danube and Mekong regions could be used as a model for transforming the shared challenges related to food, water and energy security into opportunities for inclusive growth and sustainable development. In this regard, urbanization, water management technologies and greenways were identified as one of the areas of possible tangible cooperation in ASEM.
  7. Water management has been and is an important priority for the Indian Government. India is one of the major water users in the world in terms of volume. Our country has more than 16% of the world’s population, but only 4% of the world’s renewable water resources and 2.4% of the world’s land area. The growing population, changing lifestyles and at times apathetic attitude has led to mismanagement of water resources. Furthermore, the demand for industrial water is also on the rise.
  8. The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), released by the Government of India in 2008, has identified eight National Missions to meet the challenges of the impact of climate change. The National Water Mission is one of these eight. The main objective of the National Water Mission is conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution, both across and within States, through integrated water resources development and management.
  9. Urban water consumption is likely to double by 2025 and climate change is expected to cause significant changes in precipitation patterns, which will affect the availability of water and induce water related challenges.
  10. India today faces huge challenges towards ensuring water security, which include rising fresh water demand, high variability in water availability, increasing demand-supply gaps, rising water pollution, and emerging health issues. Per capita water availability has reduced significantly from around 2000 cubic meters per capita in the year 2000 to about 1500 cubic metres today. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, about 13500 MLD of wastewater is generated by industries, of which only 60% is treated (2009 Report).
  11. Promotion of industrial activity is widely seen as a desirable way to achieve the goal of economic growth and development. With Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) contributing nearly 8% to the National GDP, 45% of the manufacturing output and 40% of the total exports, they are indispensable partners towards achieving the goal of sustainable management. However, various challenges need to be addressed to pave the path for growth of the Indian small scale sector. Water and wastewater management are key among these.
  12. The gap between water demand and fresh water availability is emerging in many developing economies. Ensuring water security for all remains a significant challenge for most nations. Competing demands for water resources for different uses makes integrated water resources management essential to enable provision of secure water supply. In order to sustain economic growth amidst increasing pressures, particularly for the urban ecosystems, a holistic and integrated approach needs to be pursued.
  13. Some of the strategies that can be identified for achieving these goals include exploring new sources, water purification technologies such as reserve osmosis for sea water and brackish water desalinization, enhancing storage capacity in multipurpose hydro projects, integration of drainage with irrigation infrastructure, mandating water harvesting and recycling and reuse of water wherever possible.
  14. Today's Session will focus on some of these areas, and I am sure, will help identify several new opportunities for cooperation among ASEM countries in the field of water management.
  15. More importantly, we hope that your discussions today will also facilitate partnerships among ASEM countries and Indian stakeholders, including industry and research institutions, to transfer and demonstrate efficient technologies for water use efficiency across agriculture, industry and domestic sectors; showcase best practices for integrated water resource management, knowledge and information sharing; and be the first step towards sustainable water management through strengthening bilateral and multilateral partnerships.

Thank you for your attention.