11 December 2023, New Delhi: The landmark ‘Global River Cities Alliance’ (GRCA) was launched at COP-28 in Dubai by representatives of nine countries.
The GRCA is modeled on the lines of India’s River Cities Alliance established by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) under the Ministry of Jal Shakti and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs in November 2021. The River Cities Alliance currently has 142 river cities in India and serves as a dedicated platform for members to have concerted discussions on aspects related to enhancing the state of urban rivers within their administrative boundaries.
The GRCA is India’s endeavor to scale up the concept of collaborative knowledge sharing to facilitate the transfer of good experiences from one part of the world to another.
The launch of the GRCA took place on 10 December in the Indian Pavilion at COP 28. Three central level national ministers for water resources were present for the occasion. These include H.E. Prof. Dr. Hani Swilam, the Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Government of EGYPT; H.E. Mr. Mark Harbers, the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Government of the NETHERLANDS; and H.E Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the Minister for Jal Shakti, Government of INDIA who made a virtual address.
On behalf of the Indian government, Mr. G. Asok Kumar, Director General, National Mission for Clean Ganga, Ministry of Jal Shakti convened the session.
The other countries who committed their support for the GRCA included DENMARK (represented by Mr. Ole Thonke Under-Secretary for Development Policy); CAMBODIA (represented by Mr. Chuop Paris, Secretary of State, Ministry of Environment); JAPAN (represented by Mr. Takahiro Konami Director for International Affairs Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism); BHUTAN (Represented by Mr. Karma Tshering Secretary of Energy and Natural Resources); AUSTRALIA (Represented by Ms. Karlene Maywald South Australian Water Ambassador); the NETHERLANDS (Represented by Ms. Roos Meilink Chief Resilience Officer, Den Haag) and GHANA (Represented by Ms. Patricia Dovi Samson, Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources)
The event also featured the participation of multi-lateral banks who pledged their support for the GRCA. These include WORLD BANK (represented by Mr Erwin De Nys, Practice Manager, Climate Finance Mobilization); ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK (Represented by Mr. Satoshi Ishii, Sector Director Water and Urban Development) AND ASIAN INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT BANK (Represented by Mr. Ankur Agrawal, Investment Operations Specialist –Urban).
The world renowned Sadhguru, known for his passion for rivers, made a special address in the event.
NMCG and NIUA will take on the role of the Secretariat of the GRCA to generate the initial momentum of the Alliance activities which will include knowledge exchange, capacity development, high-level advocacy, and bi-lateral interactions among member cities.
Speaking at the occasion, G. Asok Kumar, Director General NMCG mentioned said that, “The launch of the GRCA with the support of member countries is a testament to the fact that river management is a matter of global interest. India is happy to lead the efforts in this direction”.
Dr. Debolina Kundu, Director, NIUA highlighted the river-climate change connection in her remarks, “The launch comes at a very opportune occasion, that is COP-28. This is because it is now well established that healthy rivers are vital for both climate change mitigation and adaptation. Hence, investments in healthy rivers have a direct bearing on addressing one of the greatest challenges of climate change facing humankind today.”