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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

16 April 2005

Water, climate change on international agenda

Australia's experience in managing water as the driest inhabited continent on earth will be shared with the international community at the 13th United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD13) in New York next week, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell said today.

"Australians are aware of the need to protect and conserve our water supplies, and we are tackling this challenge at every level with the National Water Initiative, supported by the Australian Government's new Australian Water Fund.

"It's important to remember that our problems pale in comparison with many developing nations, where the lack of safe drinking water and sanitation put the lives of millions of people at risk. This is thrown into even starker relief with natural disasters like the recent tsunami and earthquake in our own region.

"One message the Australian delegation will take to the CSD, attended by environment ministers from around the world, will be that good governance in natural resource management is fundamental to water management, as it is to all aspects of sustainable development.

"We'll be aiming to show how Australia's approach to water policy, planning, scientific and technical investment, and management may offer valuable policy and practical lessons for others.

"We will also highlight the role reliable water supplies and adequate sanitation services play in maintaining community health and sustainable development; and the importance of voluntary partnerships between governments, industry groups and communities in reaching common goals." Senator Campbell said that while in the United States he would also take the opportunity to visit senior Administration figures in Washington to discuss climate change issues and progress the Australia-US Climate Action Partnership.

"Australia and the United States are involved in 20 collaborative projects through this bilateral arrangement, ranging from improving scientific understanding to working with our Pacific neighbours to respond to climate change," he said.

"I will also continue discussions on the development of an effective, long-term global response to climate change that covers all major emitters, including the United States.

"Water and climate change are our most pressing domestic and global environmental challenges, and this will be a timely opportunity both to learn from others, and to contribute our own knowledge and expertise in these areas."

Media Contacts:
Renae Stoikos (Senator Campbell's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia