Acting Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, has highlighted the importance of partnerships and working together to address water challenges of today.
Fiame made the point during the official opening of 10th Annual Pacific Water and Wastewater Conference and 3rd Annual Ministerial Forum yesterday.
Held at the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel, delegates received a taste of Samoa during a traditional ava ceremony held at the Samoa Tourism Authority Cultural Centre prior to the opening.
The Acting Prime Minister welcomed the delegates and spoke about the importance of the meeting.
“The hosting of the Pacific Water and Wastewater Ministerial Forum in Samoa is a critical opportunity that we, as the most vulnerable states to climate change, must all utilise to the maximum,” Fiame said.
“In keeping with this year's theme of “Water supply in a changing environment” it is crucial that we as a region must work together in sustainable and durable partnerships to address issues affecting our water supply.
“That includes best practices on the effective and efficient management of water resources and infrastructure, including wastewater treatment and improvement of sanitation.
“Not only that, but to be creative and innovative in securing the necessary support and resources to realize the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular SDG 6, in the water and wastewater sectors in our Pacific region.
The latest 2015 update, published by the W.H.O. in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and others, on the status of Pacific Island countries with regards to water, sanitation and health services shows that water security is a critical sustainable development issue for Pacific Island countries.
“These have profound implications for livelihoods, economic growth, public health, the environment and human rights.
“It further shows that while all Pacific Island countries are improving access to safe water and sanitation, these efforts are often not keeping pace with population growth.
“As a result, the Pacific region has made very poor progress in meeting the M.D.G drinking water and sanitation target.
“It is a challenge to you all, as water and sanitation leaders, players, young professionals, suppliers and service providers, to realise your role in contributing to improving on that status.
“It requires you to review, re-think, and reassess what works, what hasn't worked, and adopt different approaches and solutions appropriate to the specific needs, overall, of your countries.”
Fiame believes that any meaningful progress towards the current 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development targets of universal access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene, will require a fundamental recalibration of efforts by Pacific Island countries and development partners, particularly in light of projected population increases.
“Achieving such targets will require that the commitments made by Pacific Island countries in the past be converted into serious and sufficient investments in the next decade and a half.”
At the end of the opening yesterday was the official signing of the agreement between the Government of Samoa and Pacific Water and Wastewater Association.
“This is a historic occasion for not only Samoa but the Pacific.” Fiame said.
“The official recognition of the P.W.W.A. as an international organisation further strengthens its platform as the principal united voice for the Pacific Island nations for water, and wastewater and utilities at the international.
“Furthermore, this recognition enhances the development framework of Pacific expertise for the sustainable management of water, wastewater services by shaping a cohesive, proficient and robust sector.
The Chairman of the P.W.W.A. Opetaia Ravai reiterated the importance of this year’s theme - ‘Water Supply in Changing Environment’
“Our Pacific environment has been widely affected by climate change, thus given the certainty of formidable changes in water supply we continue to face greater challenges with its sustainability,” said Mr. Ravai.
“The ministerial forum held in conjunction with this conference provides a key mechanism for the realization of increased collaboration and partnerships to support the tremendous efforts required to meet the sustainable development goal of achieving universal access to safe water and sanitation by 2030.
“Water and sanitation are at the very core of the sustainable development, critical to the survival of people and the planet.
Participants include foreign ministers attending the Pacific Water Ministerial Forum, delegations from water and wastewater member utilities from around the Pacific, P.W.W.A’s development partner representatives, young water professionals from around the Pacific region, and a line-up of technical speakers, experts, professionals, companies, contractors, and providers and suppliers in the water and wastewater sectors from around the world.