Conserving water resources offers more opportunities for cooperation than disputes, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has stated.

He affirmed that Vietnam will prioritise the sustainable conservation and management of water resources as it is an important part of the nation’s 2011-2020 development strategy and the 2020 national strategy on water resources.

Dung made the remarks in a speech to open the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM) workshop on water and river basin management - a green growth approach - in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on March 21.

Vietnam will actively take part in and contribute to international efforts through various cooperation levels, he said, adding that the nation pays due attention to raising cooperation efficiency along the Mekong River .

However, he said challenges relating to water resources have become more urgent due to the direct impacts the issue has on every nation and its citizens.

He suggested that conserving water resources in a sustainable manner be included in every nation’s sustainable development and green growth strategy, and combined with the implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

ASEM should be more active in assisting and linking its members’ regional and sub-regional programmes, he said, adding that orientations should be planned so that ASEM’s activities contribute to the international community’s sustainable management and development of water resources.

“Only if joint and drastic actions are taken today, can the predicted challenges be reduced or prevented,” PM Dung emphasised.

According to forecasts, 1.8 billion people could experience water scarcity and two thirds of the world’s population will have difficulties accessing fresh water in 2025.

In addition, the degradation of water resources will worsen due to rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and extreme w eather conditions caused by climate change.

At the two-day event, 150 delegates from 51 ASEM member nations and relevant organisations will discuss water resources and sustainable development, food and energy security, and improving the efficiency of Asia-Europe cooperation in water resource management.

The participants are expected to adopt a report detailing proposals to be submitted to the 11 th ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting in India in November, 2013, and the 10 th ASEM Senior Officials Meeting in Belgium in 2014.-VNA