Statement Banner

Rob Altemeyer, MLA Wolseley
April 6, 2009

World Water Day and Earth Hour

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to bring awareness to two very important events which took place in the month of March.

The first was World Water Day, which was observed two weeks ago. World Water Day originated from the 1992 United Nations conference on environment and development in Rio de Janeiro, and is now held annually on the 22nd of March as a means of focussing world attention on the importance of fresh water and advocating for the sustainable management of fresh water resources.

Mr. Speaker, 2009 marked the 17th observance of World Water Day, and this year's theme focussed on trans-boundary water management.

According to the United Nations, by the year 2030, Mr. Speaker, nearly half of the world's population will be living in areas of high water stress. Already, over 40 percent of the world's population resides within internationally shared river basins.

I am proud of our government's strong defence of international water rights regarding the Devils Lake outlet, our many efforts to improve the health of Lake Winnipeg from pollution within and beyond our borders and the recent launch of our highly successful water smart conservation program.

In that regard, Mr. Speaker, I am also very proud to represent the constituents of Wolseley where students at the University of Winnipeg recently voted to end the purchase and provision of bottled water on campus, the first such university in Canada to do so. This bold move recognizes the importance of treating water as a public resource rather than as a private commodity.

The second awareness movement in March that I would like to bring to members' attention was Earth Hour, which took place on Saturday, March 28 at 8:30 p.m. Earth Hour is also an international event, asking households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change.

This year over 80 countries and more than 2,000 cities committed to Earth Hour 2009, including our very own Manitoba government. I thank all Manitobans for their participation in these important events. Our conscious effort to take a stand for the environment demonstrates how a changing world can begin with individual action. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.