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The Vaal Dam wall. Picture: THE TIMES/MARIANNE SCHWANKHART
The Vaal Dam wall. Picture: THE TIMES/MARIANNE SCHWANKHART

Gathered in New Delhi, India, the leaders of the world’s largest economies reinforced the vision for enhancing global co-operation and sharing of best practices on water. Driven by a shared vision, they acknowledged the importance of addressing one of the most pressing challenges of our time — the urgent need for the conservation, protection, sustainable use and restoration of our ecosystems, particularly when it comes to water.

The 2023 G20 leaders’ declaration recognises the pivotal role of water in our collective pursuit of a more sustainable and resilient future. This is exactly what the kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been calling for ever since it held the presidency of the G20 in 2020, and now more recently with the newly announced Global Water Organisation. 

In 2020 Saudi Arabia adopted water as a critical topic for its presidency. Why? Because water is intrinsically linked to life itself, and thus is relevant to all sustainable development initiatives. The first water dialogue was held in Saudi Arabia in 2020 and thanks to the kingdom’s leadership water is now a central theme of the G20 agenda. And with the announcement of the establishment of the Global Water Organisation, tackling water issues will now be a priority on the international agenda. 

In a world facing growing challenges we must recognise that water scarcity is not a distant threat — it is a stark reality for millions. Communities are already grappling with the profound consequences of insufficient access to clean water, from compromised health and sanitation to economic instability. The crises of tomorrow will be water crises if we do not take swift and decisive action today. 

It is heartening to see the commitment of the G20 towards a more sustainable world. This ambitious direction, when coupled with the enhancement of global co-operation and the sharing of best practices on water, underscores our collective determination to safeguard this precious resource. The initiatives launched at the UN 2023 Water Conference and the G20 Dialogue on Water, initiated by Saudi Arabia, are vital steps in the right direction. 

However, we must do more. And this is where the Global Water Organisation stands ready. By strengthening co-operation between countries and stimulating a collective response to water challenges, all will benefit. The kingdom’s vision is that the organisation will foster collaboration and synergies. Saudi Arabia acknowledges the varying nature of water resource challenges across regions and developmental stages. We adopt context-specific strategies that prioritise tailored solutions for each nation's unique challenges.

By leveraging international co-operation we aspire, through the organisation, to assist developing countries in achieving effective water resource management. Our objective is to ensure that every country progresses towards sustainable global water resources, leaving no-one behind in this critical journey. 

The 2023 G20 leaders’ declaration has set the world on a promising path, one of global co-operation and shared responsibility. Let us seize this moment to inspire meaningful change, for in protecting our water we protect our planet and the generations yet to come. The world can no longer afford the luxury of waiting. The time for action is now. 

Dr Abu-Mouti is deputy regulatory affairs minister in the ministry of environment, water and agriculture of Saudi Arabia. 

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