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“Faced with this challenge to the survival of the planet, we have the responsibility to adopt ambitious policies and timely interventions. And we must start from home. Italy is determined in its response to the water crisis in our country”: said the minister Environment and Energy Security, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, speaking at the plenary session of the UN Conference on water, the first after almost half a century (WORLD WATER DAY).
Pichetto Fratin: “We didn’t do enough”
The minister recalled that “a lot has changed in terms of knowledge, tools and strategies. Yet it is evident that we have not done enough to fight what, even today, remains one of the most serious planetary emergencies. No one can feel extraneous to this tragedy, not only out of solidarity with other peoples, but also because of the direct effects that our countries are suffering”, he warned, quoting Nelson Mandela (“Without water there is no future”). “In a context that spares no one, beyond any rhetoric, this Conference is a historic moment to relaunch the international community’s commitment to protect water as a pillar of the sustainability of human society”, he added. “Italy supports with force the Action Agenda on Water, to place water at the center of strategies to fight climate change, according to the approach of the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems nexus and the principles of the 2030 Agenda”, assured Pichetto, recalling then Italy’s national and international efforts in this direction.Furthermore, on the sidelines of the meeting, the minister said he believed a “different agroforestry policy” was necessary to tackle the problem of environmental disasters: “We must use ize the seven thousand members of the forestry corps who monitor the territory. We need a different policy. In the past there was a protection of the territory superior to that of today”.
Pichetto Fratin: “Increasingly recurring drought in Italy”
“Drought periods are increasingly recurring in Italy, as is the case in the broader Mediterranean context, which according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is one of the areas most at risk”, added Minister Pichetto Fratin. “In the Recovery Plan and Resilience we have mobilized funds for water resources amounting to 4.38 billion euros in 5 years. A coordination table was recently set up to respond to the crisis, also with new legal and operational instruments”. Among the priorities of the interventions in Italy, the minister recalled “the strengthening – with an investment of 600 million euros by 2026 – of the water monitoring and risk prevention capacity, also with innovative systems such as the monitoring and forecasting system of environmental and anthropic risks”. On the Integrated Management of Water Resources and Nature-Based Solutions, “we are carrying out an intervention on the largest river in Italy while with the Po River Renaturation project we have invested 357 million euros, with a focus on water quality and biodiversity” Pichetto Fratin then guaranteed that “our international commitment is no less convinced than that at the national level” and that Italy is acting “above all within the framework of the commitments undertaken by the European Union”. Finally, the minister announced that “few weeks ago Italy and Ethiopia signed an agreement worth over thirty million euros for a project to improve water and soil management and create employment opportunities”.
Pichetto Fratin: “Aqueducts lose over 40% water”
The minister said that “it is important that after fifty years we get back together and identify the path for maintaining the system. We have one billion and 200 million from the Pnrr, we have other money from other laws that are struggling to be activated, we realize that the picture is changing, it has been thirty years since the water problem has arisen for many reasons, we have the aqueducts that lose more than 40 percent of water, a serious dispersion”.
Pichetto Fratin: “Education campaign on water”
The environment minister also announced a ministry education campaign on the responsible use of water. “Certainly we can intervene at an educational level. Let’s talk about the rules of daily consumption. We had water, with abundance we don’t look too much at consumption, we need a major education campaign, we will start with an education campaign on what it means to realize that water is not free for everyone”.
UN: “We don’t have a minute to lose”
Meanwhile, the UN has raised the alarm about a “vampiric” consumption of water that puts billions of people around the world at risk. The United Nations has warned of the risks of an imminent global crisis. While in Italy, according to Ispra, in 30 years (from 1991 to 2020) the availability of water resources has decreased by 20%. “We don’t even have a minute to lose”, is the appeal of the secretary general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, during the work of the second Conference on Water (the first was in 1977) opened at the Glass Palace in New York.
World Water Day
World Water Day was established in 1992 and this year’s theme was “accelerating change” to solve the water and sanitation crisis. According to the UN report, around two billion people lack access to safe drinking water, while 3.6 billion lack access to reliable sanitation. Two reasons why, according to a report by Unicef and WHO, every year at least 1.4 million people, many of them children, die. Half of all health care facilities lack soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer solutions. “Water scarcity is becoming endemic,” reads the report, which notes that global water use has increased by about 1% each year over the past 40 years and is expected to maintain similar growth rates until to 2050.