Speech by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Tavio at the 10th World Water Forum 22 May 2024

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to address you today here in World Water Forum Basin segment. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Government of Indonesia for hosting us here.

Despite many positive developments, it is a well-known fact that the world is still badly off-track to reach the Sustainable Development Goal 6 on Water. The latest stocktaking in that front was publication of SDG 6 Synthesis last year. The Synthesis Report lays out blueprint on putting Sustainable Development Goal 6 back-on-track. This includes five topics, two of them closely linked to water information systems: “Data and Information” and “Innovation”.

Finland is a global forerunner in digitalization with solutions ranging from Internet of Things, big data to Artificial Intelligence. Finland has invested in innovative technologies for water monitoring and forecasting such as remote sensing, satellite imagery, and real-time monitoring systems.

One of the key features of water information systems is their ability to integrate data from a wide variety of sources. Satellite imagery, ground-based sensors, and crowd-sourced data all contribute to a comprehensive picture of our water resources. By harnessing the power of big data and artificial intelligence, we can analyze this information in real-time and identify patterns and trends that would be impossible to detect otherwise. By integrating data from various sources, including weather data, sensor networks, and consumption patterns, water utilities can optimize water supply, identify inefficiencies in hydropower production, and make informed decisions for sustainable water management.

At the moment, in Finland, we have a flagship project building a transition towards the digital representation of real-world water systems, so called Digital Twins, to reproduce hydrological storages, their states, fluxes and processes, as well as ecosystem responses with novel options for improved scenario analysis, planning and governance.

Colleagues,

Extreme weather and climate events are ever more common and dangerous. However, accurate weather forecasts and early warnings can save lives and livelihoods. As we know, water plays a central role, but neither water nor weather events know boundaries. That is why transboundary cooperation, data sharing and early warnings are essential in both weather and water domain.

Data needs to be shared on every level, between local and national agencies and institutions and across borders globally. Early warning systems, which rely on real-time data sharing, can provide crucial information to communities downstream, helping them prepare for and mitigate the impacts of floods and other disasters. The improved monitoring and data sharing on water quality is also important.

In Finland, national watershed forecasting system utilizes digital information that we receive from our neighbours and that allows us to model and forecast existing and possible changes in our water resources. And in turn, share our forecasts with our neighbours. The data exchange benefits all riparian countries.

In countries where there is still a need for building basic monitoring infrastructures, development should be started step-by-step taking account of competence and resources available for sustainability. Finland is a forerunner in meteorological cooperation, having financed the improvement of weather and climate services of over 50 national meteorological and hydrological services around the globe during the past two decades. Our contribution consists of high-quality products and services for effective weather and climate services, trusted and long-term partnerships technical assistance, as well as of gender inclusive approach. The Finnish Meteorological Institute and Finnish private sector, such as Vaisala Corporation, are leaders in the field. Finnish Environment Institute has been supporting development of surface water quality monitoring and laboratories in Central Asia and Latin America.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All data that is needed to realize the human rights to water and sanitation should be freely available, including data related to disaster warning such as floods and droughts. In Finland, we promote a policy of open data, and most environmental and hydrological data collected in Finland is openly available. By making data freely accessible to the public, researchers, and policymakers, we can foster innovation, promote accountability, and build trust. Open data platforms enable stakeholders to collaborate, share insights, and develop innovative solutions to water challenges.

To summarize my words: key elements for achieving water secure world are data, cooperation and data sharing in basin level, early warning systems and informed decisions.

Thank you.