President Jacob Zuma, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the Heads of State Committee on the United Nations (UN) High Level Panel on Water, on Wednesday, 22 March 2017, officially opened the United Nations (UN) World Water Day Summit and Expo in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
The Summit is held under the theme, “Wastewater: The untapped resource”.
South Africa hosts the Summit and Expo through the Department of Water and Sanitation, in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government and United Nations Water.
The Summit will also provide an opportunity to launch the 17th edition of UN’s World Water Development Report, which focuses on the critical role of wastewater management for vibrant economies, resilient societies and the maintenance of healthy environments across the globe.
President Zuma also presented a Declaratory Statement on roll-out activities of the High-Level Panel on Water at domestic, regional and global levels.
The UN Director for world water assessments, Stefan Uhlenbrook, says the report focusing on the re-use of waste water will be a game changer as many countries battle with drought conditions.
Water Research Commission CEO Dhesigen Naidoo says they support the report, adding it could revolutionize water use.
Naidoo says the country has the knowledge and technology and can take the lead in bringing in new water solutions.
“We have an opportunity to meet with our African and our global partners because if we continue to do things the way we used to do we will not be able to meet our Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We have to do things differently and take advantage of the new knowledge”.
Naidoo further said that South Africa has to bank on that fact that they are the biggest producers of new knowledge in the water research space, ranked 18th in the whole world.
"We have the technological means to organise for us to re-use 90% of the waste water that we chuck away in this country every single day; To have dry sanitation and low flush sanitation available to all the citizens in the country. That will not only save us water, it will not only give people access to dignified sanitation; But it will also save energy and it will also organised for our carbon budget to go down. This is the future we have the capacity already we need to realise it."
The Summit further provides South Africa with an opportunity to outline progress that the country has made in meeting water and sanitation goals since 1994 and is also a platform for sharing knowledge and experience on risks in water provision induced by drought and climate change.
For more on the conference follow us on our social media pages @WaterResearchSA Facebook: Water Research Commission. For free downloads of report visit the WRC Knowledge Hub www.wrc.org.za