On March 22, World Water Resources Day is celebrated, which has been approved by the UN General Assembly since 1993. On this day, the UN Information Center in Moscow organized a round table in an online format, in which Lake Baikal Foundation took part.
The ceremonial start was given by Vladimir V. Kuznetsov, Director of the UN Information Center in Moscow, who read out a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery as part of his welcoming speech:
Water! You have no taste, no color, no smell, you cannot be described, you enjoy yourself without understanding what you are. You are not just necessary for life, you are life. With you, bliss spreads throughout the whole being, which cannot be explained only by our five senses. You are returning to us the powers and properties that we have already given up on. By Your mercy, the dried-up springs of the heart are opened again.
You are the greatest wealth in the world, but also the most fragile — you, so pure in the bowels of the earth. You can die near a spring if there is an admixture of magnesium in it. You can die two steps away from a salt lake. You can die, even though there are two liters of dew, if some salts got into it. You do not tolerate impurities, you do not tolerate anything foreign, you are a deity who is so easy to scare away… But you give us infinitely simple happiness.
Emphasizing the indispensability of water, the speakers recalled the number of people who do not have access to this priceless wealth, to safe drinking water. Their number is about 2 billion people. One of the consequences caused by the lack of access to safe water is diarrhea, from which about 525 thousand children under five die every year. This problem was identified by Manukhina Olga Vladimirovna, a specialist in non-communicable diseases and communications of the World Health Organization office in the Russian Federation.
6 The UN SDG addresses the issue of clean water and sanitation and calls on all countries to make significant progress in this direction through joint efforts by 2030. Natalia Nikolaevna Ryazanova, Head of the Laboratory of Geoecology and Sustainable Nature Management of the Department of International Complex Problems of Nature Management and Ecology of MGIMO of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, who moderated the discussion, drew attention to Russia’s achievements in this area. Rosstat monitors this direction in Russia: 27% or 3 tasks for 6 SDGs are in development, 18% or 2 tasks are in the process, and 54% or 6 tasks are not being developed.
Anastasia Tsvetkova, General Director of Lake Baikal Foundation, underlined the potential that Russia has:
Our country ranks second in the world in terms of water availability, so it has all the prerequisites to take a leading role in the water agenda and become a guarantor of water security for countries experiencing water scarcity.
Anastasia Valeryevna also stressed that there is still much to be done on the way to becoming Russia as a leader of the water agenda: for this it will be necessary to develop and adopt a new national strategy for the long-term development of the water complex, which is not available today, to increase the interest of the younger generation in the water resources management industry, to train highly qualified personnel of both narrow and wide profiles. To solve the issue of increasing the interest of young people and training highly qualified personnel, Lake Baikal Foundation proposed to create a Youth Parliament on Water:
The idea of youth parliaments on water is not new. The first World Youth Parliament on Water was established 20 years ago under the auspices of the UN and was timed to coincide with the Year of Freshwater, which was declared 2003. The purpose of this parliament was to unite young people from all over the world for joint actions in the water sector at all levels: from practical local actions to representing the interests of young people at UN water agenda events. In addition, the World Youth Parliament on Water has become a platform for the exchange of experience and knowledge, as well as for supporting youth projects and conducting scientific and analytical research. There are now 30 national and regional parliaments. Russia is part of the European Youth Parliament on Water. We believe that an independent national youth parliament on water should appear in Russia, and Lake Baikal Foundation is ready to organize this process.
This idea was supported by Natalia Nikolaevna Ryazanova, who added that in the Russian context it would be more appropriate to use the term “council”, because there are already many active public councils in the country, but there is no youth council on water yet. Lake Baikal Foundation invites everyone interested to join us to work together on the creation of this institute.
The round table ended with answers to questions from students from leading Russian universities. The children were interested in the role of NGOs in solving environmental issues, threats to Lake Baikal, measures to prevent aridization, and others.
The event turned out to be very rich in the range of topics of discussion and invited persons. In addition to the mentioned speakers, representatives of international organizations in Russia spoke at the round table: Vladimir Moshkalo, Head of the Russian Representative Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Eduard Porvatov, FAO Office for Communication with the Russian Federation, as well as representatives of national organizations — Alla Volynskaya, Head of educational programs and Projects of the Vernadsky Non-Governmental Environmental Foundation , Galina Shandurenko, Chief Librarian of the Center for Documents of International Organizations of the Russian State Library (RSL), Angelina Polygalova, Head of the Secretariat of the ESG Solution Cup.
Take care of the water, the gold of the 21st century!
If you want to take part in the work on the creation of a Youth Parliament on Water or support this idea, contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org