December 11, 2014

Presidential call to solve world’s water challenges

Taiwanese President Ma, addressing the International Water Association’s 7th International Young Water Professional Conference in Taipei, has called on young water professionals to contribute their expertise to solving global water challenges.

Citing Taiwan’s own situation, dealing with an increase in extreme climate events such as floods and droughts, President Ma said, “Taiwan’s Young Water Professionals should share their breakthroughs, particularly in flood control and drought measures.”

Speaking to a packed auditorium at the opening of the meeting, President Ma described the preciousness of water as a finite natural resource unevenly distributed across global regions. This challenging situation was made worse by the threats of climate change and water security to sustainability and human welfare.

Ma cited more and more frequent occurrences of droughts due to global warming and contamination of water by industrial waste, as areas of concern in Taiwan but also issues that the international community needed to urgently address.

Specific to Taiwan, Ma pointed to major and rapid changes in the pattern of rainfall as a major challenge. Taipei City has recorded 20 percent more rainfall over the past decade compared to the last century, yet the current record low rainfall threatens severe water shortages and has already led to water rationing. Taipei’s case illustrates increased vulnerability to both flooding and droughts because of the more extreme discrepancies in rainfall, President Ma warned.

Water rationing, irrigation control and artificial rainfall strategies are being implemented in response to this year’s drought, but Taiwan’s lowest rainfall since records began in 1947 was a significant challenge, one being faced in many countries and regions worldwide.

Addressing one of the conferences major themes, taking innovation from research to practice, Ma highlighted Taiwan’s record in the area of innovative water management. This includes the construction of “sand dredging canals” on the top of dams, facilitating the faster removal of sediment in order to extend the service life of dams.

Tobias Barnard, Chair of the Conference Programme Committee, said, “In the last few years our attention has continuously focused on the many challenges the global water sector faces. The IWA Young Water Professionals, using events such as the International IWA YWP conference, has enabled conversations between Young Water Professionals from around the world, both to understand the challenges better and to work on solutions for a world that we want to live in when we are older.”:

“A country like Chinese Taiwan has many challenges, but is focused on finding the solutions to those challenges. There are many lessons we can learn and share from those experiences.”

The conference has attracted a large audience. 280 research papers were submitted, of which 100 were accepted as presentations and an additional 82 as poster presentations. All are currently under consideration for publication in international periodicals.

Find out more about Young Water Professionals here