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Hungarian President Warns That “Water Crisis Could Lead To Armed Conflicts”

By Tamás Székely // 2017.09.22.

A water crisis could lead to armed conflicts, Hungary’s President János Áder told news agency MTI late on Thursday, after attending a meeting of the High-Level Panel on Water (HLPW) together with officials including UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and World Bank head Jim Yong Kim. The HLPW was convened in 2016 by UN leaders and the World Bank Group for a period of two years to address global issues connected with water management and sanitation.  

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres (left) shaking hands with Hungarian President János Áder in New York (photo: Noémi Bruzák – MTI)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the meeting that the worldwide water crisis had worsened since the body was convened, Áder said. Citing World Bank figures, he said that over two billion people in the world do not have access to drinking water of sufficient quality and 4 billion lack access to satisfactory sanitation services, Áder said. “If we fail to address the looming water crisis effectively, armed conflicts could ensue”, Áder cited Guterres as saying.

The Hungarian President, who attended the 72nd UN General Assembly earlier this week, cited the case of Jordan as an example. The second driest country in the world now spends 5 percent of its GDP on catering to migrants fleeing conflicts in the Middle East, Áder said. “If we add the consequences of climate change such as the dramatic fall of water quantity per person, rivers drying out and social tensions, as well as another wave of migration from countries hit by climate change, we can appreciate the level of the conflict Jordan could face”, he said.

In the time remaining of its two-year mandate, the HLPW will work to raise awareness of the dangers of an imminent water crisis, János Áder said. “We should not only speak of investing in water management but also put the message across that water management is also a good investment opportunity”, Áder said. “With sufficient political will and support we can find the resources and forms of financing to reduce the risk of a water crisis,” he said.

During his visit to the USA, the Hungarian President also attended the Bloomberg Inaugural Global Business Forum convened in New York by the city’s former mayor, US businessman Michael Bloomberg. The meeting brought together about 40 international business leaders and heads of state and government, 5 to 6 of whom had been personally invited by Bloomberg, Csaba Kőrősi, the directorate chief at the President’s office, told MTI.

The forum is designed to serve as a platform organised in the United States but involving representatives of other leading economies such as China to address issues related to globalisation, he said. The framework of the new forum, an “alternative to Davos”, will need to be worked out over the coming months, and the Hungarian president has been asked to participate as one of the major players in that work,” Kőrösi said. The inaugural forum was addressed by the Canadian prime minister, the French president and former US President Bill Clinton, among others, he said.

via and MTI