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President Jokowi kicks off global water forum with call for collaboration

Jakarta Post - May 21, 2024

Dio Suhenda and Ni Komang Erviani, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has called on the international community to strengthen its commitment and formulate real actions for inclusive and sustainable water management, as Indonesia kicks off the 10th World Water Forum in Bali.

In his opening remarks on Monday morning, Jokowi highlighted the untapped potential of water resources across the globe amid the looming problems of food scarcity, saying that 500 million farmers, who contribute 80 percent of the world's crops, will be vulnerable to drought by 2050.

"Seventy-two percent of the earth's surface is covered by water, yet only 1 percent can be accessed and used for drinking and sanitation," Jokowi said. "Without water, there is no food, there is no peace, there is no life, no growth. Water must be managed well because every drop is very valuable."

Citing Bali's subak culture, a traditional farming and irrigation system, as an example, Jokowi said water holds a special place in Indonesia, a vast archipelagic country whose territory is mostly covered by water.

He said collaboration was key to tackling water issues in Indonesia and so would be in global water problems.

"For Indonesia, collaboration has been the key to success in restoring the Citarum River [in West Java], and the development of the Cirata floating solar plant, the largest in Southeast Asia and third-largest in the world," Jokowi said.

"With our gathering in Bali, Indonesia hopes that the world can work together continuously to address global water challenges."

Organized by Indonesia and the World Water Council and themed "Water for Shared Prosperity", the largest water-related international event is running from May 18 to 25 in Nusa Dua with participants from more than 70 countries, including academics, civil society organizations and the private sector.

Among the global leaders in attendance are Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Fadillah Yusof and Fiji President Wiliame Katonivere, as well as billionaire technology mogul Elon Musk and president of the United Nations General Assembly Dennis Francis.

A Balinese Hindu water purification ritual marked the start of a series activities of the World Water Forum on Saturday.

Held in Kura Kura Bali in Denpasar, the Sehara Kerthi ceremony was aimed at restoring the cosmic balance in general, as well as wishing the forum success. Witnessed by more than 1,700 participants, the ceremony was led by four sulinggih (Hindu high priests).

In the opening ceremony on Monday, tech billionaire Musk said: "The potential for solving any given water issue is extremely good because there is so much water."

He said solar power could be a cheaper, more sustainable energy source for desalination of seawater to solve the water crisis particularly because the cost of solar power and storing electricity in batteries had dropped 10-fold in the past five years.

"We are continuing breakthroughs in the efficiency of desalination [...]. We have a great water future ahead of us and I think a great sustainable energy future [is also] ahead of us," he said.

Musk, who founded aerospace firm SpaceX, opened his speech with a comment that aliens, if they visited the planet, would name the Earth "Water" because 70 percent of its surface is water, not land.

The World Water Forum is a triennial event organized by the World Water Council and the host country.

Last week, the National Development Planning Ministry's forest and water resources conservation director, Medrilzam, stressed the urgency for Indonesia and other participating countries to tackle the problem of growing water demand amid a small number of water sources.

"In Indonesia, there have been several studies showing the majority of the country's water springs have gone, with the water in the dams producing electricity also decreasing," Medrilzam said.

Aside from being affected by the increasing needs of a growing population, water security is also threatened by climate change through intense hydrometeorological disasters which, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), account for 90 percent of disasters in the country.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), meanwhile, said that it will use the Bali forum as a platform to promote international cooperation to tackle pressing global water problems that stem from climate disruption.

"As we face increasing water scarcity and climate variability, it is imperative that we increase international cooperation to sustainably measure and manage water resources together and train and empower a new generation of water professionals." UNESCO director general Audrey Azoulay said in a press release on Friday.

Source: https://asianews.network/president-jokowi-kicks-off-global-water-forum-with-call-for-collaboration