Princess Maha’s urgent call for improved water management in Asia-Pacific

Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post

Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, FAO Special Goodwill Ambassador for the Asia-Pacific, has stressed the urgency of combating water scarcity and improving water management systems throughout the region.

The Princess voiced her concerns during the Asia-Pacific World Food Day Observances at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Asia-Pacific headquarters in Bangkok.

Her Majesty pointed out that approximately 2.5 billion inhabitants currently reside in countries struggling with water stress. With fresh water becoming increasingly scarce, competition over this invaluable resource intensifies.

“This is a call to action. We must not leave anyone behind. We must begin to better manage, and share, our water wisely. We must produce more food with less water. And we must make sure that water is distributed equally so that food security is ensured for everyone.”

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Expertise in water resource management has raised alarms over escalating competition for access to fresh water in the Asia-Pacific region. They warn that this could have severe implications for the vast agricultural sector in the region and could potentially disrupt affordable food access for millions of its residents.

In the Asia-Pacific region, agricultural activities account for approximately 90% of freshwater consumption. This figure significantly surpasses the global average, where agriculture consumes around 75% of freshwater. Three-quarters of the region’s water supply is insecure, with over 90% of the region’s population already on the brink of a water crisis.

This rising demand for water can be attributed to population and economic growth, urbanisation, and an increased demand for water-intensive agricultural products. Meanwhile, the supply of fresh water is dwindling due to escalating water pollution and the effects of climate change.

Assistant Director-General and FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, Jong-Jin Kim, highlighted the importance of sustainable freshwater resource use during the event’s opening remarks.

“We know that ensuring the sustainable use and access to our precious freshwater resources is key to achieving the overall 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

“Unfortunately, we are far off track in that regard. Water scarcity is increasing at an alarming rate.”

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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