The opening ceremony of the 8th World Water Forum ( Beto Barata/PR)

During the opening ceremony of the 8th World Water Forum today (Mar. 19), Brazilian President Michel Temer said that sustainable growth is “closely connected” to access to water. He described Brazil’s commitment with the environment as historic, and argued that sustainability in the use of water requires “efforts permanently integrated both in and among our countries.”

“Access to water is closely connected to growing sustainably. On behalf of the future of mankind, it is our common obligation to seek the sustainable development in all of its branches. The consensus is that life on Earth will be threatened if we do not respect the limits of nature,” the president said in his speech at the Itamaraty Palace—seat of the country’s Foreign Ministry—accompanied by the heads of state that took part in the forum.

Temer noted that the country’s commitment with addressing the issue had been restated at the Rio 92 conference, when concepts were outlined, and then later again at the Rio+20. “We’re intent on implementing this agenda, and we wish to restate it at the 8th World Water Forum,” the president said, while talking about the need for precise diagnoses and coordinated efforts to better implement these policies.

“Water sustainability requires efforts permanently integrated in our countries and among our countries. If we shut ourselves in and work synergetically, we’ll all pay the price,” he added.

Temer noted that 2 billion people in the world lack a safe source of water at home and suffer from lack of sanitation. Over 260 million people, the president went on to say, have to walk for over half an hour to have access to water.

Even though the government has worked hard to face one of the worst recessions in its history, Temer argued, these efforts were made “with eyes set on sustainability at all times.” The president mentioned the River Planters initiative, the protection of forests and the reversion of the curve of the deforestation in the Amazon Forest as evidence of “water security as the center of our policies.”

“Preservation is not enough. Water must reach families’ homes. There are still communities struggling with droughts—hence our efforts to transplant river São Francisco. It’s an old project we are bringing to an end, which should benefit 12 million people in the Northeast,” he said.

The 8th World Water Forum started Sunday (18) and is slated to end on Friday (23), in Brasília.

Pedro Peduzzi and Paulo Victor Chagas report from Agência Brasil  Edição:  Lidia Neves / Nira Foster
Translated by Fabrício Ferreira
Agência Brasil