EghtesadOnline: Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian stressed the need to focus on adopting pragmatic approaches for judicious water consumption so as to achieve sustainable development. "Water [shortage], inflicted on many countries in the past few years, has become a major challenge to sustainable development … Governments need to pay closer attention to solve the problem," Ardakanian was also quoted as saying by ILNA on Thursday.
He was speaking at a two-day international conference titled “International Decade for Action—Water for Sustainable Development 2018-28” held in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe from June 21-22.
The conference was organized by Tajikistan's government in cooperation with the United Nations and affiliates, particularly the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs.
Tajikistan is planning to hold the meeting biannually to facilitate the implementation of water-for-sustainable-development program, according to Financial Tribune.
According to the minister, Iran has been actively engaged in projects to fulfill its commitments in this field.
"The Energy Ministry is set to establish a workgroup on managing water scarcity … The group's agenda is set in line with national plans on sustainable development and the decade's strategies," he said.
Ardakanian did not elaborate on the workgroup's strategies and approaches.
Iran has held several rounds of talks with neighboring countries, including Tajikistan and Turkey, last year on finding solutions to curb water wastage in key sectors such as agriculture.
Gripped by low rainfall, persistent drought and dwindling water resources, Iran is facing a severe shortage of water with its agriculture sector suffering due to outdated cultivation and irrigation methods that require unacceptably huge amounts of water. Official data show that more than 90% of Iran's water resources are used in the agriculture sector with a mere 30% efficiency, which pales in comparison to the global average of 75%.
Ardakanian also called for raising awareness about the problem and creating new ideas and strategies to mobilize the world to achieve such goals.
"Together with our member countries and other development partners, we can find the best solutions to the worsening water challenges," he said.
Nearly 750 million people do not have access to clean drinking water globally, whereas 2.5 billion lack access to basic sanitation. Annually, water disasters cause $60 billion in economic losses while drought and desertification threaten the livelihoods of more than 1.2 billion people worldwide.
Pointing to Iran's critical water situation, he said, "In the past four decades, several factors, including high population growth and unregulated agriculture, have worsened the issue."
However, according to the minister, "climate change and demographic situation" are among the main reasons leading to the ongoing challenge.
During his two-day stay in the country, Ardakanian sat down with senior officials in Tajikistan to improve mutual cooperation with relevant Tajik organizations.