World Water Day 2023
World Water Day Event
Afla Garden, Qanatir, 12 March 2023
Opening remarks by
Ambassador Christian Berger, Head of the EU Delegation to Egypt
Your Excellency, Dr. Hani Sweilam, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Morning,
While standing here and looking at this fantastic scene, I recall the words of Herodotus calling Egypt “The gift of the Nile” ‘δῶρον τοῦ ποταμοῦ’.
The Egyptians themselves went a lot further. They said that their sacred river had its source in heaven. Egypt is blessed with the Nile River, and we see every day the importance of water. Water defines life; it’s existential for all organisms on this planet. On the occasion of World Water Day, let’s reflect together on its importance.
Today, many threats endanger our water, from climate change to plastic pollution. Unprecedented in the history of human kind, water has become a geopolitical issue, a strategic good, that can trigger migration, hamper food security, and even cause wars.
As we have seen during COP27 we need to embrace a new approach towards sustainability, and we need to move fast.
This is particularly important in Egypt, as during the next decade, the average portion of Nile water for every person will decrease by 22%, only due to population growth. This might lead to a significant danger to water quality, and hence the overall quality of life.
In response to these challenges, and as a sign of high commitment and following Egypt's Sustainable Development Strategy, the EU keeps supporting the Egyptian government. With more than €550 million in grants, leveraging concessional funds of nearly €3 billion thanks to European Financial Institutions, we have been supporting the response to these challenges since 2007. Our existing co-funded programmes cover 16 Governorates, providing jobs, mainly in rural areas. This shall help improve the quality of life for nearly 20 million inhabitants in Egypt.
There is still a lot to be done to match the existing and future needs. That is why today's celebration is also the occasion to discuss the way forward.
The EU and Egypt are close neighbours and strategic partners with a long history of friendship. The agreement on the EU-Egypt Partnership Priorities last year, showcases the breadth of our cooperation in all areas of common interest: food security, green and digital transition, job creation, renewable energy and natural resources, especially water.
The water sector is, indeed, a top priority for the EU. It is – and will remain – one of our main pillars of intervention: investing in human capital, supporting investment in infrastructures, ensuring strong public awareness on water saving and preservation, will go hand-in-hand with the support to strong public-private partnerships.
In Egypt, the Team Europe Initiative for Integrated Water and Food Security has been created already to address main challenges in the water and agriculture sectors. Such as water productivity and scarcity, adapting to climate change, improving environmental protection and strengthening rural communities.
During the European month of May we will organise a high-level event involving the Egyptian government. The EU, the EU Member States and the European Financial Institutions will discuss the national water and food security initiatives to promote sustainable development and will showcase the European support for the National Water-Food-Energy Nexus Initiative (NWFE), in its water and food pillar.
The EU and its Member States are committed to continuing working with the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation and other partners. We can achieve shared goals together and secure water as a valuable, sustainable resource for Egypt.
Without water, there can be no life. I wish you a very Happy World Water Day.