Water interconnectivity for sustainable development sought

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The essential role of water in achieving UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was up for discussion as Lao and foreign experts exchanged views on water interconnectivity in the capital.

At a reception in Vientiane, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Director General Mr Jeremy Bird stressed that efforts “must be smart and inclusive if we are to achieve sustainable development”.

The SDGs reflect an unprecedented initiative by governments across the world to promote balanced development and place economic gains within a framework of social and environmental health, he said.

The individual goals and targets are naturally interconnected, especially in relation to water.

Taking action on water SDGs could help achieve other development goals, but focusing solely on water without taking into account mitigating factors could also lead to unexpected and unintended consequences.

For example, investing in solar irrigation pumps provides clean renewable energy and reduces carbon emissions, but given the low energy costs, could lead to excessive groundwater extraction, depleting a valuable resource.

In cases like this, it is important to provide the right mix of incentives for farmers to use groundwater more efficiently.

According to the remarks at the reception of the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Phouangparisak Pravvongviengkham stressed the importance of SDG1-No Poverty, and SDG 2-No Hunger as they relate to agricultural production in Laos.

Improved access to water is critical to achieving these goals.

In this context, irrigation is a central component of the Government’s poverty reduction strategy, he said.

Dr Phouangparisak highlighted the importance of community-based irrigation schemes while citing a need for an overall water resources strategy in Laos that is crafted in cooperation across the environment-related ministries of the government.

He indicated that research organisations such as IWMI have an important role to play in policy-related research and strengthening national research capacity for the benefit of evidence-based policymaking.

Following the views from the experts at the recent reception hosted by IWMI in Vientiane had expressed that the SDGs offer a unique opportunity to advance the country’s development in a strategic and timely way while placing sustainability and inclusive growth at the centre of such developments.

However, efforts to implement each of the SDGs in isolation would be problematic and likely compromise the likelihood of success, according to the IWMI.

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