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Economy

Asia-Pacific leaders vow a doubling of water security investment

Summit commits to 'safe and affordable' water, sanitation for all by 2025

Dignitaries view the resolution adopted Tuesday at the third Asia-Pacific Water Summit in Yangon, Myanmar.

YANGON -- Asia-Pacific leaders made a move against flooding in the region at a summit here Tuesday, committing to double investment in infrastructure related to water security as climate change exacerbates the threat to the region.

The roughly 600 attendees, who included government representatives from 24 countries as well as the private sector, issued the Yangon Declaration on the second and final day of the third Asia-Pacific Water Summit. The first was held in Japan in 2007, and the second in Thailand in 2013.

In the declaration, subtitled "The Pathway Forward," participants pledge to double "investment at the regional level in infrastructure and community-based efforts to address water-related disasters and significantly increase water security." Investment related to flood control in the Asia-Pacific region amounts to some $40 billion a year, mostly from China.

The unanimously adopted document lays out more concrete targets than the previous summit's Chiang Mai Declaration. It calls for providing "safe and affordable drinking water and basic sanitation" -- such as adequate toilets -- "for all in the region by 2025" -- five years earlier than the deadline set in the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

Asia faces myriad problems related to the natural resource. Fast-growing cities are running into a lack of tap water and sewage infrastructure, as well as water pollution, while farming areas need more water for irrigation as demand for food increases. And water is a must for economic growth, as Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi noted in opening remarks Monday, as it is used in industry and power generation.

The two-page declaration also touches on funding issues. With water-related facilities seen as harder to handle via public-private partnerships than such other infrastructure as power plants and roads, the document calls for adopting "innovative financial solutions."

Outcomes from the summit will be reported this coming March at the World Water Forum in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia.

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