DAVOS, Switzerland: The world needs to find solutions that can solve both the water and climate crisis at the same time, as both issues are intertwined, said Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Wednesday (May 25).
“What's happening now is that climate, water, food and energy are becoming more and more insecure at the same time," said Mr Tharman at a panel session on A Fresh Water Future at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
"They're feeding into each other. If we keep over-extracting water, we keep polluting water, it affects the wetlands and affects the natural carbon sinks. It makes it even more difficult to address the climate crisis. So we're in a vicious cycle now,” he said.
The panel included Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte and The Coca-Cola Company CEO James Quincey, among others.
Mr Tharman said that the world needs to recognise that water is already the “first casualty” of the climate crisis, but that it can also be part of the solution.
“If we think of climate by itself, we can solve the problem with the right will, with the right resources, the right pricing," said Mr Tharman.
"But we might be creating an even larger problem on water, so we've got to think of them together and find solutions that basically solve both of them together,” he added.
He said that the water problem can be solved through technology, and with the right governance, investments can be made in an equitable fashion to scale up these solutions.
"In water, the technologies exist, by and large. They have to be made affordable, and you make it affordable by adapting the technologies so they're suitable for every village, in every country, but we can also make it affordable through scale and we need to scale this up," said Mr Tharman.
“It requires some finance but the finance will come, if in fact the technologies are working to deliver value. And value is not just the commercial value, it's how it's changing people's lives,” he said.
Mr Tharman, Transport Minister and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S Iswaran and Communications and Information Minister Josephine Teo are on a four-day visit to Davos.
They will meet government and business leaders from various countries at the WEF.
They are accompanied by officials from the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Communications and Information.
Officials from the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore and the Economic Development Board will also join the group.