Naruhito, the Crown Prince of Japan, was one of the members of the panel “Water and Natural Disasters”, which took place on Monday (3/19) as part of the 8th World Water Forum, which runs until March 23 in Brasilia. At his side were other global leaders, such as Myanmar’s Minister of Natural Resources, Ohn Winn, and UN representative Han Seun-soo.
Discussed were topics such as natural disaster risks due to climate change and the importance of equal water distribution for the well-being and balance of society. Naruhito highlighted the evolution of historical cases of environmental degradation in Japan and recalled the large presence of Japanese immigrants present in Brazil – emphasizing how they have always depended on fertile land for the exercise of agriculture.
“Rivers such as the Amazon play a fundamental role in the growth and development of a country and in keeping the climate and the biodiversity on earth in balance,” he said. “Water is one of the indispensable elements for the development of life,” he added. He recalled an exemplary case of egalitarian water distribution that occurred in the Akadake and Gongendake mountainous region between the cities of Nagano and Yamanashi in central Japan.
It is a steep mountain range with an important water source, which springs up near the Yatsugatake volcanic formation. For many years, the region has experienced severe shortages. In 1725, after several meetings among local residents, a change was made to the way the water was distributed. A stone structure was used to channel water through three different communities, equitably, “a fundamental measure to maintain the area’s agricultural activities,” according to Naruhito, who also pointed out that there was a rotation between the population to supervise the division of water.
This case illustrates, according the Japanese Heir, the main theme of this year’s Water Forum: water sharing. “Commitment and sharing are the first steps toward achieving peace and social balance,” said the speaker.
The prince also expressed concern about the current state of the planet: “Its balance is in serious risk due to global warming and climate change. We feel the impacts of the heavy rains, floods and droughts. There is a trend of extreme rainfall in Germany, the USA and Japan, which has been increasing in recent decades.”
The 8th World Water Forum, which takes place from March 18 through 23 at the Ulysses Guimaraes Convention Center and the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia, has as its central theme the sharing water. The Renova Foundation actively participates in the event, taking part in roundtables discussions on management and restoration of aquatic ecosystems, recovery of river basins and sustainable solutions to restore terrestrial and river ecosystems.
Follow our coverage of the event on the event page.