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Speech by President von der Leyen at the opening ceremony of the 9th World Water Forum

Speech given yesterday by President von der Leyen at the opening ceremony of the 9th World Water Forum.

"Check against delivery"

Dear President Sall,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Around the world, communities are working together across borders to prove that fresh water is not a source of conflict, but a symbol of partnership and hope. Deepening that cooperation is why we are here today. And it is why this Forum is such an important marker on the road to the 2023 UN Water Conference.

This is not just a sectoral conference. Because water is about our climate and nature, our energy sources, our health and our food supplies. It is about the cities we live in, the security of our regions, and the equality of our societies. Take gender equality, for example: Having access to sanitation and hygiene at home and at school is especially important for women and girls. It protects them against gender-based violence and provides privacy and dignity. The right to water is a human right. And we must always uphold it. And we also know that water flows through almost all of the SDGs and Paris climate goals. This is why water is so central to the EU's partnerships around the world.

So today I am glad to announce that Team Europe is launching a new flagship initiative on transboundary water management in Africa. Together, Team Europe is making over 400 million euros available for cross-border water projects in Africa. And we will team up with the African Union, the European Investment Bank and other partners to ensure those projects make a real difference on the ground. Like in the Senegal River basin not far from where you are today. This is a success story. And it proves that cooperation works.

But this is just the beginning. The EU's new Global Gateway Investment Package is a game changer. It is the global arm of the European Green Deal. Team Europe will raise up to 300 billion euros towards 2027 to support large-scale projects in Africa and around the world. These investments will be sustainable and deliver tangible benefits for local communities.

Take the new Rwanguba power plant in Virunga National Park. It is a symbol of hope in a region recovering from conflict. For the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, cooperation is transforming the Virunga area into a clean source of electricity. That protects the region's rich biodiversity. These are the kinds of projects the EU wants to fund with Global Gateway.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Cross-border water cooperation is about sustainable development. It is about making progress through partnerships. It is about peace and security. But above all it is about people and about our future.

There is no greater need for the world to work together.

And you can count on Europe to do just that.

I wish you a successful summit.

Thank you!

Click here for the full press release


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