The Hungarian government supports the principle that polluters of transboundary rivers should be made to pay for the damage they cause, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó said in New York late on Monday.
At a conference on developments in mountainous areas, the minister noted that Hungary did not have high mountains but neighbouring countries did, and “it is especially important to treat mountainous regions and neighbouring areas in an integrated way”. Fully 95% of Hungary’s rivers have their sources in other countries, and “it would be unbelievably important to have an integrated international plan in the interest of managing and protecting our waters”. He called for cooperation to secure the quality and quantity of the water available, adding that sustainable development in the mountains was not possible without sustainable water management. Everybody should honour the principle that when a river is polluted, the polluter “should pay the bill”, he said, but added that it required international coordination. “If we cannot enforce this, communities not at all responsible will pay for the damage, which is unacceptable,” Szijjártó said. Issues around the development of mountainous areas should be kept high on the agenda internationally, since a quarter of the world’s drylands is in the mountains and home to 15% of the global population, mostly in developing countries, Szijjártó said. Ecosystems of the mountains are important supply systems for billions of people living in lower areas, with special regard to plants produced at higher altitudes, he added.
Hungary is an active supporter of the 2030 Water Resources Group, and has contributed three million dollars to its operations, Szijjártó said, adding that the Hungarian government had called on the United Nations to set up a special rapporteur position for water management.