The Opening Ceremony
Fifth World Water Forum
Monday, 16 March 2009
His Royal Highness,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am delighted to join so many participants from nations around the world at the Fifth World Water Forum in Istanbul.
Istanbul is where the East and West meet and their cultures so splendidly merge. It is also a city that Japanese dream of visiting as in ancient times it was connected to my country through the "Silk Road" . The Fifth World Water Forum taking place here in Istanbul on the theme: "Bridging Divides for Water" has a special significance, as we recognize the urgent need for collaboration in resolving pressing water issues around the world.
I would like to pay my profound respects to the government of Turkey, the World Water Council, the City of Istanbul, the secretariat of the Fifth World Water Forum and all concerned for your unsparing efforts in organizing this meeting.
In retrospect, the three years since the last Forum have seen many important initiatives. It is noteworthy that water issues are now being addressed not only by experts, but by many others who have little concern with water, including heads of state and government.
a. Regional Water Summits
A case in point is the development of regional water summits. The First Asia Pacific Water Summit, the world’s first regional summit dedicated to water and sanitation, took place in Beppu, Japan in 2007. It brought together heads of state and representatives of government, international organizations, civic groups, industries and academic societies to discuss water and sanitation issues common to the region. Having taken part in the Summit myself, I was tremendously encouraged by the serious and constructive deliberations.
As a result of these deliberations, a "Message from Beppu" was adopted, strengthening present initiatives for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Ambitious new goals were set, including specifically that "By 2025, all in Asia and the Pacific will have access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation" .
The African Union Summit on Water and Sanitation in Egypt in 2008 is still fresh in our memory. His Royal Highness the Crown Prince of the Netherlands, Chair of the United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, played a pivotal role in the planning and success of the Summit. The fact that leaders of regions hold water summit meetings, speaks of how crucial water issues are for the development of their countries and regions.
b. Progress at all levels
Apart from summit meetings, there are many concrete activities taking place around the world. In Africa, in the Americas, in Asia and in the Arab region, ministerial level dialogues were held to forge regional collaboration. In the area of water financing, the OECD, the World Bank and regional Development Banks are deepening discussions and exploring ways to increase and diversify financing for the water sector. In the areas of monitoring and capacity building, UN-Water and other international, national and local bodies are at work. They are conducting dialogues, and organizing training and workshops to ensure that appropriate information, human resources and technology are harnessed. Many local initiatives are taking place through cooperation among central and local governments and NGOs to preserve ecosystems and water environment.
It is encouraging to see these activities gaining momentum. My sincere admiration goes to all those who are working untiringly and ardently in these places.
The year 2008 was the International Year of Sanitation. Suffice it to say, that sanitation includes hygiene, such as the habit of washing hands, providing toilet amenities, and processing human waste by installing sewerage facilities. The issue here is how best effectively to promote these measures by adapting them to local conditions around the world. The International Year of Sanitation lasted only twelve months, but much remains to be done.
In my keynote address to the Fourth World Water Forum, I referred to a successful cyclical human waste management system encompassing urban and rural areas in Edo, as Tokyo was known until 140 years ago. The give-and-take system was bridging people’s lives in urban and rural areas as farmers consumed urban human waste whereas city inhabitants consumed rural agricultural products. Human waste in Japan in those days was a valuable resource.
It is now understood, of course, that recycling of human waste for use as a fertilizer must include effective means of killing parasites and disease-causing bacteria. It may, however, be inspiring to remember the history of the treatment of human waste as a useful resource in people’s daily lives.
During the Fifth World Water Forum, five cross-cutting priority issues will be discussed in high-level panels, including "Water and Disaster" and "Finance". I am told that during the Forum, in addition to summit and ministerial meetings, there will also be Regional and Thematic Processes that will take up more than a hundred sessions for discussion.
The theme of water relates to broad issues in our lives. An integrated approach involving decision-makers from all sectors and all levels is therefore required for its sustainable use. Thus it is important for the future of our local and global communities that we, who have come from virtually every corner of the planet, should engage ourselves in free discussion, in spite of differences in our experience and views. We can share our results with the rest of the world.
Lastly, I must refer to the challenge of global warming which is linked to most water issues,
Global warming is a challenge that calls more insistently than ever on the global community to commit itself fully to our sustainable development. Climate changes are affecting water resources and water use differently in all regions, often caused by extreme events. We have seen intensifying floods and droughts, the rise of the sea level causing coastal erosion and water shortages in Pacific island states. There are an increasing number of avalanches and landslides caused by the melting Himalayan glaciers. These represent departures from the already serious water crises of the past, and their mounting gravity is a cause for serious concern.
Appropriate responses to global warming are essential for our very survival. Many such responses will have to be made through the resolution of water issues. Now is the time for us all to combine our knowledge and act to meet this challenge, so that we and our children and all living things can continue to enjoy the rich blessings of our planet.
Ladies and gentlemen, ours is a long journey on which we are entrusted with the mission to bring safe drinking water, appropriate sanitation and water security to every corner of the earth-like a caravan on the Silk Road. In concluding, I pray that at the Fifth World Water Forum the water caravan will gain new wisdom, solidarity and, most of all, the courage to move forward to reach our common goals.
Address by His Imperial Highness The Crown Prince of Japan
at the 36th International Congress of Physiological Sciences
July 27, 2009
Kyoto International Conference Center, Kyoto
Distinguished participants and guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very pleased that the 36th International Congress of Physiological Sciences is being held here in Kyoto, with the participation of so many scientists from all over the world.
I am told that this congress represents the world's oldest international conference in the field of physiological science; the congress was first held in Basel, Switzerland, in 1889. Forty-four years ago, for the first time in Japan, the congress was convened in Tokyo. I feel very happy that Japan is again hosting the congress, this time in the historical city of Kyoto, with the theme, "Function of Life: Elements and Integration."
The recent developments in life sciences have been remarkable. The human genome has been decoded, and progress in computer technology has enabled us to study the fine structure of proteins that compose the human body. Physiology is the basis for many clinical sciences and it is the role of physiology to integrate findings obtained in specialized scientific subdivisions and to understand how living organisms function as a whole. I believe that physiology is more important than ever in order to apply the recent developments in life science as the means of promoting health and advancing the future development of medicine.
William Harvey, who discovered the systemic circulation of blood, is regarded as a founder of modern physiology. I feel I am closely connected to this Congress because William Harvey was at one time Warden of Merton College at Oxford University, where I studied when I was in England.
Finally, I would like to express my sincere hope that this congress will promote the advancement of basic medical research and the related technological development, thereby contributing to the well being of humankind.