November 7, 2018
Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, and friends – welcome to Villa Richardson!
I’d like to thank our Vatican partners for being here this evening, and for organizing tomorrow’s important conference on clean water.
I’d also like to acknowledge our diplomatic colleagues from France, Italy, Monaco, and Peru for helping make this event possible.
As President Trump has said, “Water may be the most important issue we face for the next generation.”
Today, nearly two billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Many more lack access to appropriate sanitation facilities.
Without improved sanitation and sustainable water, many countries will continue to suffer from increased poverty and disease, food and energy insecurity, and cross-border and regional tensions.
Safe water is fundamental to solving challenges to human health, economic development, peace and security.
Yet, as the agenda for tomorrow’s conference notes, our global water crisis, “has not been addressed with sufficient ambition, consistency, determination, and universality.”
To address these issues, we need to first understand where and why we’re falling short. It’s encouraging that conference participants will assess the progress, road blocks, and failures in supplying water to those most in need.
As we know, water problems are difficult to solve. In some countries, local infrastructure is often weak and financial resources are limited. Some governments do not prioritize water-related issues, particularly sanitation.
But water is also an opportunity. Governments that deliver basic water and sanitation services create a more stable environment for their people.
Cooperation on water issues between neighboring countries can reduce tension and conflict.
Water and sanitation networks have been effective in strengthening responses to challenges such as Ebola and other global health epidemics.
Water is also an entry point to advancing democratic values and strengthening civil society.
Last year, the United States released its first U.S. Government Global Water Strategy. Our vision is a water-secure world, where people have sustainable supplies of water to meet human, economic, and environmental needs.
Over the next five years, the United States will work with other countries, the private sector, and like-minded partners to advance four strategic objectives:
- First, to increase sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation services;
- Second, to encourage the sound management and protection of freshwater resources;
- Third, to promote cooperation on shared water resources; and,
- Fourth, to strengthen water-sector governance, financing, and institutions.
More than 17 U.S. government agencies and departments engage internationally on these objectives. Our private sector plays a major role as well.
Finally, I’d like to mention how fortunate we are here in Rome to have the support and partnership of the Holy See. Our collective engagement with the Vatican helps raise the priority of clean water and sanitation services around the world.
Again, thank you for being here this evening.