Vienna, 9 October 2013 – "The UN General Assembly declared access to water and sanitation a human right in 2010. And yet, more than 700 million people in the world have no access to clean drinking water and more than 1 billion people lack any access to sanitary facilities. This situation is particularly grave in Africa, where 150 children, women and men die every hour because they have no access to clean drinking water and sanitary systems", State Secretary Lopatka said at the "Budapest Water Summit" on 8 October 2013.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who also attended the Summit said that up to fifty percent of the world's population could suffer from water scarcity by the year 2030. The provision of water and sanitary systems must therefore remain a central element of the post-2015 Development Agenda. The Budapest Water Summit is being held, among other purposes, to contribute to the development of a Sustainable Development Goal in this field.
"Water and sanitary systems have been a top priority on the agenda of Austria's development cooperation for years, and flagship projects have been carried out in Uganda, Mozambique, Palestine, Albania and Moldova. However, it is now high time to realise that we need a more comprehensive approach to development. Water, nutrition and reliable energy supply are inseparably linked to health, economic growth and social stability", State Secretary Lopatka said. A study conducted by the World Bank in 18 countries with the support of Austria and some others shows that the economic loss resulting from lack of access to water and sanitation amounts to some 5.5 billion US dollars annually, which is 1 to 2.5% of the GNP of the respective states. "This finding underlines the main conclusion of the Human Development Report 2006 according to which each dollar invested in water and sanitary systems means a 6-dollar economic growth ", the State Secretary said.
Lopatka also met for bilateral working meetings with Hungarian Foreign Minister János Martonyi and the leader of the governing Fidesz party's parliamentary group, Antal Rogán. The cooperation between Austria and Hungary at European and regional level was on the agenda of these meetings, such as cooperation within the Central European Initiative where Austria will take over the presidency from Hungary in 2014. The talks also revolved around the imminent elections to the European Parliament to be held in May 2014 and the issue of how to increase the voter turnout in the EU member states. Lopatka also addressed the current issue of the conditions set for Austrian companies and banks in Hungary: "A reliable legal network and predictability are of the essence for Austrian investors to be successful in our neighbouring countries. As regards the banking sector, I addressed the issue of repayment of foreign currency loans and pushed for a mutually agreed solution between the Hungarian Government and the banks in question. I am of the opinion that reliability for planning, transparency and communication are the necessary prerequisites for successful economic cooperation."
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