Sun, March 22, 2009
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China urges efforts in sustainable water system

2009-03-22 07:36:39 GMT2009-03-22 15:36:39 (Beijing Time)  China Daily

China's Minister of Water Resources Chen Lei (1st R) speaks at the ministerial round-table conference of the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul, Turkey, March 21, 2009. [Xinhua]

Istanbul-- China called for the international community to spotlight risk management of water-led disasters and food security with joint strategies in place against consequent challenges facing the world today.

Headed by Chen Lei, minister of water resources, a Chinese delegation joined hands on Saturday with other countries attending the 5th World Water Forum to stress more emergency responses to such challenges.


Over the recent years, global climate change has intensified with extreme weather events and consequent disasters followed, all resulted in heavy losses and casualties.

The 2002 flood in Europe, the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the 2005 Hurricane Katrina in USA, and the 2008 massive earthquake in China all left the human world with indelible pains.

To cope with such situations, "we need to establish an international exchange platform for sharing data with one another, carrying out close cooperation in disaster control and relief operations, promoting access to advanced technologies, and facilitating cooperation mechanisms," Chen said at his keynote speech during a roundtable meeting, part of the forum's efforts to push the worldwide water related issues onto the international agenda.

China organized the Special Session "Risk Management of Water Infrastructure Projects Related to Mega Natural Disasters," with seven other countries including South Korea,Japan, Mexico, Indonesia, the United States and the International Commission on Large Dams.

It convened more than 200 experts and officials for seeking solutions to the issue and reached a consensus of improving risk management of water-led disaster by laws for the interests of all stakeholders.

He said his counterparts agreed to enhance disaster security system and forecasting, build up capacities for emergency responses, train people for self-protection and mutual assistance to have deaths avoided and damages minimized from water-led like flood and drought.

To make them work, he called for countries to carry out co-op at high level with their joint researches about predication of climate change and forecasting pushed up to higher standards.

As a country frequently ravaged by floods and droughts with its grain yields often threatened, Chen promised in another special session that China will join hands with counterpart countries to mitigate havoc of such disasters for food security by sharing experiences with the rest of the world.

China jointly launched the session on irrigated water and management with Turkey and Mexicoto address food security, a critical water-related issue threatening the many parts of the world today in view of global climate change.

"Food security is not only a matter of keeping sustainability in China but a sector of ensuring the world's food security," he said, "because a populous China is one of the world’s major grain producers and consumers," he said.

To ensure the country's food security, the government has treated irrigation as a lifeline of agriculture, particularly grain production by boosting irrigation infrastructures.

Over the six decades since the founding of New China, water authorities have brought 57.8 million hectares of crop-growing land or 20 percent of the world total into effective irrigation.

To date,China has ranked first in the world's countries with so many irrigated farmlands. Although irrigated area only account for 44.4 percent of China's total farmland, it yields 75 percent of its total grains, 90 percent of its total cotton, vegetables and cash crops.

In this way, he made it clear that, "irrigation infrastructure has played a crucial role in ensuring our national security."

Since 2004, the grain yield in China increased for five years in a roll with its annual total grain output reached a record 528.5 million tons in 2008, which, many Chinese experts said, is of vital to the world food security.

However,China is confronted with long-term issues of population growth, farmland shrinkage and water shortage which may be worsened with climate change in the years ahead.

The country will further improve its irrigation facilities as a strategy to secure food security for the people, Chen said, adding "we would work together with other countries to use water more efficiently for the world’s food security.

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