UNITED NATIONS: A top Pakistani diplomat Tuesday called for respecting and implementing “in letter and spirit” the 1960 Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan, a lower riparian state, at a preparatory meeting for the UN Water Conference 2023. “Besides climate change,” Ambassador Munir Akram said, “Pakistan’s water-vulnerability is also flowed from its status as a lower-riparian state.” “Many of our catchment areas and their ecosystems traverse boundaries,” he told a large number of delegates attending the meeting. “Changes on the other side of the border have a direct impact on us,” the Pakistani envoy said, referring to India. “It is essential that water sharing agreements – such as the Indus Water Treaty – should be respected and implemented in letter and spirit,” he added. Pakistan is among the top 10 water-scarce countries in the world and has also been among the top ten climate-vulnerable countries. Recurrent spells of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, glacial lake outbursts, cyclones, and heat waves have taken a heavy toll on both life and property and adversely affected Pakistan’s economic growth, Ambassador Akram said. “The recent floods in Pakistan, owing to the extreme heat wave that melted away many of our glaciers followed by “monsoon on steroids”, resulted in widespread devastation of vital infrastructure loss of thousands of lives, and internal displacement of millions of people.” Owing to the recent floods, he said. many of Pakistani farmers have already missed the planting season for the winter wheat crop, adding that this may create serious food shortages. Pakistan, he said, agrees with the themes of the 2023 water conference which are consistent with its national priorities. “We agree that effective water management requires enhancing standards and regulatory limits to govern discharge into water bodies, ensuring ecological standards in water quality, and maintaining the run-off in our rivers in order to maintain ecosystem services.” In this regard, the Pakistani envoy urged the upholding of environmental principles like precaution, polluter pays, and no-harm in maintaining our freshwater resources including transboundary rivers. “We must ensure transboundary water cooperation to ensure the right and obligations of lower and upper riparian states,” he said. Ambassador Akram also underscored the need for investments in water-related sustainable and resilient infrastructures in order to achieve the targets and objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are aimed at zero-hunger and eradication of poverty. Some 1,200 scientists, representatives of the private sector and civil society are meeting at UN Headquarters in New York to discuss potentially game-changing ideas related to water and sustainability. The results emerging from roundtables on governance, capacity development, data and information, innovation and financing, will be shared with national representatives. Noting that the world stands at a watershed moment, the President of the General Assembly, Csaba Korosi, whose Office organized the consultations, told participants that it is time to “transform from reactive water management to proactive, science-based solutions to the water crisis.” Korosi urged participants to discuss game changers from the perspective of “solidarity, sustainability and science”, the motto of the 77th session of the General Assembly.