Water, Oceans and Wetlands
Geneva WASH Week 2003 and the WASH Partnership Meeting
The Geneva WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) Week 2003 and the WASH Partnership Meeting on “Action planning for the water and sanitation Millennium Development Goals” convened from 15-19 December 2003 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The meetings brought together more than 150 participants, including ministers, heads of UN agencies, and representatives from international organizations, academia, resource centers, the private sector, NGOs and other civil society groups. Participants discussed how local and national coalitions can be established between governments, NGOs, community organizations, the private sector and local governments. The meeting also marked the formal handover of the Chair of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) from Sir Richard Jolly to Jan Pronk (see related story in “comings and goings” section). For more information, visit: http://www.wsscc.org/load.cfm?edit_id=456
ECA Regional Implementation Meeting: Pan-African Implementation and Partnership Conference on Water
December 2003: The Pan-African Implementation and Partnership Conference on Water convened from 8-12 December 2003 at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, bringing together some 1,000 delegates to address Africa's water crisis and to collectively implement actions envisaged in the African Water Vision, the Water Agenda of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).
Throughout the week-long conference, delegates met in thematic sessions for two days to discuss: water, sanitation and human settlements; water and food security; protecting ecosystems and livelihoods; water and climate; financing water infrastructure; integrated water resources management (IWRM); water allocation; water wisdom; and water governance. They also met in multi-stakeholder sessions to discuss: achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and targets agreed upon at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD); the Africa-EU Water Partnership; the Third World Water Forum; and water and gender. A special session on African inputs to CSD-12 also met in a parallel session.
In a concluding Plenary, delegates considered African ministerial commitments on implementation and partnerships for achieving water and sanitation targets, and a report of the African regional implementation review for CSD-12. The meeting's outcomes and recommendations will be transmitted for CSD-12 consideration.
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin's
coverage of the meeting can be accessed at: http://www.iisd.ca/csd/rim/eca/
Deep Sea 2003 Conference
International experts from the scientific, academic, fisheries management, international law, environmental and fishing industry communities of 40 countries met from 1-5 December 2003 in Queenstown, New Zealand to address the governance and management of the world's deep-sea fisheries.
Noting the need for urgent action to prevent further depletion of the deep sea resources, delegates recommended: using existing international organizations to introduce marine protected areas in deep sea areas, prohibit destructive fishing methods in sensitive areas, and regulate the activities of fishing vessels on the high seas; establishing new international arrangements to control the impacts of fishing on deepwater areas of the high seas; and establishing a global framework in the long-term to manage the impacts of fishing in the deep sea of the world's oceans. Further information about the event is available online at: http://www.deepsea.govt.nz/
50TH SESSION OF IMO MARINE ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION COMMITTEE
Delegates to the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting, which took place from 1-4 December 2003 in London, agreed to amend the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships by phasing out single-hull oil tankers by 2010.
Other measures agreed to include an extended application of the Condition Assessment Scheme (CAS) for tankers and a new regulation banning the carriage of Heavy Grade Oil (HGO) in single-hull tankers (MARPOL 73/78). The amendments are expected to enter into force on 5 April 2005.
Under a revised regulation 13G of Annex I of MARPOL, the final phasing-out date for Category 1 tankers (pre-MARPOL tankers) has been brought forward to 2005 from 2007. The final phasing-out date for category 2 and 3 tankers (MARPOL tankers and smaller tankers) was brought forward to 2010, from 2015. In addition, the CAS is to be made applicable to all single-hull tankers of 15 years or older. Previously it was applicable to all Category 1 vessels continuing to trade after 2005 and all Category 2 vessels after 2010.
In order to prevent oil pollution from HGO-carrying oil tankers, delegates adopted a new MARPOL regulation that bans the carriage of HGO in single-hull tankers of 5,000 tons dwt and above after the date of entry into force, and in single-hull oil tankers of 600 tons dwt and above but less than 5,000 tons dwt, not later than the anniversary of their delivery date in 2008. Further information about this meeting is available online at: http://www.imo.org/home.asp
Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands
The Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands convened from 12-14 November 2003 at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) headquarters in Paris, France, bringing together some 250 water experts representing governments, IGOs, NGOs, academia and civil society.
During the three-day conference, participants met in Plenary, roundtable and working group sessions to examine the commitments on oceans, coasts and islands made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), as well as strategies for achieving implementation of a global oceans agenda, which include mobilizing private sector involvement and involving small island developing States (SIDS). Outcomes from the Global Conference will be included in a Co-Chairs report, containing WSSD implementation perspectives, progress initiatives and summaries of papers presented at the Conference. For Sustainable Development's
coverage of this meeting, visit: http://www.iisd.ca/crs/sdune/
ESCAP Regional Implementation Meeting
October 2003: At its eleventh session, the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) invited the United Nations Regional Commissions to consider organizing regional implementation meetings to contribute to the work of the CSD. In response to this invitation, the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) convened a Regional Implementation Meeting from 27-28 October 2003, at the UN Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. This meetings aimed to provide input on CSD-12's thematic focus, namely water, sanitation and human settlements.
Approximately 90 participants representing 28 governments and several UN bodies, intergovernmental organizations and Major Groups attended the ESCAP forum, which was jointly organized with the DESA and in collaboration with the UN Development Programme. Participants heard panel presentations, engaged in multi-stakeholder discussions, and shared experiences and lessons learned in the CSD-12 thematic issue areas. Three break-out sessions focused on experiences in the Asia, Central Asia and the Pacific regions. Participants also heard a presentation on and discussed partnerships for sustainable development.
Meeting coverage by Earth Negotiations Bulletin
can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/csd/rim/escap/
ESCWA Regional Implementation Meeting Prepares for CSD 12
October 2003: At its eleventh session, the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) invited the United Nations Regional Commissions to consider organizing regional implementation meetings to contribute to the work of the CSD. In response to this invitation, the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) organized a Regional Implementation Meeting from 19-21 October 2003, at the League of Arab States (LAS) headquarters in Cairo, Egypt. This meetings aimed to provide input on CSD-12's thematic focus, namely water, sanitation and human settlements.
This meeting was held within the ambit of the Joint Committee on Environment and Development in the Arab Region (JCEDAR), a committee composed of representatives from ESCWA, the Technical Secretariat of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment (CAMRE), the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), and the United Nations Environment Programme's Regional Office for Western Asia (UNEP/ROWA). Fifty participants from 14 governments, joined by representatives from intergovernmental and academic organizations, industry and NGOs, attended the meeting.
Participants adopted 10 decisions on, inter alia: follow-up measures to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) outcomes and the Arab Initiative for Sustainable Development; follow-up activities to the Abu Dhabi Declaration on the future of the Arab Environment Programme; a work programme for the environment up to 2005; priorities and achievements in the field of sustainable development; incentives to the private sector to invest in environmental projects; and the establishment of an Arab environment fund. [Earth Negotiations Bulletin
Second Meeting of the CSD-12 Bureau
October 2003: Bureau members for the twelfth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-12) gathered for their second meeting on 3 October 2003 in New York.
They learned that agendas of previously scheduled meetings of the Regional Commissions have been adjusted to include discussion of the CSD-12 thematic cluster of water, sanitation and human settlements. These meeting's outcomes will be submitted to CSD-12 as a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the relevant conclusions and recommendations. The Bureau stressed that the High-Level Segment, which is scheduled to convene at the end of CSD-12, should pave the way for effective policy discussions in the lead-up to the Policy Year. Major Groups representatives will meet with the Bureau at its third meeting, on 18 November 2003.
For more information see the notes from the Bureau meeting: http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd12/CSD12_bureau_meeting...
and the ENB summary of CSD-12 Chair Børge Brende's briefing following the Bureau meeting: http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/csd/csd12/CSD12_Briefing_10.3.03...
First Meeting of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the Global Environment Monitoring System/Water Programme (GEMS/Water)
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) convened its first Technical Advisory Group (TAG) meeting for the Global Environment Monitoring System/Water Programme (GEMS/Water) in Burlington, Canada on September 29 to October 1, bringing together technical and scientific experts from 11 UN counterparts and other partners.
The purpose of the TAG is to examine in detail a wide range of technical aspects of, and projects for GEMS/Water, with a view to improving global water quality monitoring.
The meeting discussions led to the accomplishment of three central objectives: 1) agreement and support for the direction and four core activities articulated in the new strategic business plan, from a scientific and technical perspective; 2) ideas and new projects to develop alone or in partnership with other organizations – especially new technologies and data sources; and 3) identifying and strengthening communications and networking opportunities. Participants worked on key themes such as global coverage, access to data, emerging issues, the role of water quality in IWRM and in the international policy agenda, and opportunities for developing country capacity building. Details and plans for fulfilling the objectives are the substance of the group's first Technical Advisory Paper, the main product of the meeting.
The next TAG meeting is tentatively scheduled for spring 2005, at a location to be determined. The UNEP GEMS/Water Programme is a multi-faceted water science centre oriented towards knowledge development on inland water quality issues throughout the world. For more information visit: http://www.gemswater.org
or contact: email@example.com
NINTH INTERNATIONAL DRAINAGE WORKSHOP
With the theme of “Drainage for a Secure Environment and Food Supply,” some 120 participants from 25 countries met from 10-13 September 2003 in Utrecht, the Netherlands, to discuss the role of drainage in integrated water resource management (IWRM) in agriculture and to formulate action plans on how to convey the significance of this role to the international community, especially non-drainage experts.
Participants drafted a declaration concluding that, inter alia: drainage is an integral part of integrated water resources management; the drainage community needs to come up with new innovative ideas and build capacity for drainage within the context of IWRM; drainage experts should get more involved in agenda setting of water policies; and long-term partnerships involving all stakeholders are effective conduits for joint action to solve critical water management problems. Click here for a copy of the workshop's Declaration: http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/home/icid_declaration.htm
Sixth Water Information Summit 2003
The Sixth Water Information Summit, organized by the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) and the Water Web Consortium, took place from 9-12 September 2003 in Delft, the Netherlands.
The Summit focused on strategies to overcome the ‘digital divide' between North and South, and to share knowledge and information in support of the management of the water and sanitation sectors. Bringing together communication specialists, information managers, website managers, academics, scientists, policy-makers, and other water information users and providers, participants considered the future of water portals, web-based interactive sites that make it easy to find water-related web sites. Other themes discussed included: use of information by different target groups; the role of information in reducing health and poverty; information, water and gender; closing the ‘digital divide'; and implementation of actions relating to water information taken at the 3rd World Water Forum. For more information visit: http://www.irc.nl/news/wis6.html
DUSHANBE FRESH WATER FORUM
Reaffirming the importance of the International Year of Fresh Water, this international water forum brought together more than 500 participants from 53 countries to increase public awareness of issues relating to freshwater from 29 August - 1 September 2003 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
Under the theme of “Water, Environment and Security,” participants met in plenary sessions and working groups to discuss: water and interstate cooperation; water, health and sanitation; water conservation and productivity in agriculture; and information sharing for strengthening water partnership. During the high level ministerial segment, the Dushanbe Water Appeal was drafted, reiterating the importance of freshwater resources and calls on the United Nations, governments, organizations and stakeholders to commit themselves more fully to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the targets agreed upon in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation. The Appeal also invites the United Nations to declare 2005-2015 the International Decade of ‘Water for Life'. For more information visit: http://www.freshwaterforum.org/index-eng.htm
SECOND EARTHWATCH CONFERENCE ON WATER
Participants to Earthwatch's second water conference held on 26 August 2003 in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, focused on the theme of Bacteria in Drinking Water: Public Health Implications, with papers presented by experts from academia, water boards, multi-national, and test laboratories.
Participants noted the following recommendations, including, inter alia, the need for: federal, state and local governments to ensure the provision of potable water by the year 2010; improved efficiency and proper monitoring of public water supply systems; proper waste disposal and management techniques be put in place to handle daily waste generation; relevant authorities to draft and pass into law drinking water standards governing drinking water quality and reporting requirement for public water systems; and the need for adequate geophysical surveys and studies to determine the location and production of boreholes to ensure that quality water is provided to the people. These recommendations will be forwarded to government agencies and other water industry stakeholders.
The first EarthWatch Conference took place in 1997 at Port Harcourt, with the theme - Financing Rural Water Supply Projects in Nigeria. A third water Conference in Nigeria is currently being organized. More information about the Earthwatch Institute can be found at: http://www.earthwatch.org/
First International Dry Toilet Conference
The first international Dry Toilet Conference attracted 168 registered participants from 30 countries to its 20-23 August 2003 meeting in Tampere, Finland.
Participants discussed obstacles to dry sanitation, existing technology and its deficiencies, and waste treatment, among other issues. The conference secretariat has compiled and is distributing the proceedings. For more information see the conference website: http://www.drytoilet.org/
or contact the secretariat: firstname.lastname@example.org
SECOND MEETING OF THE FAO AQUACULTURE SUB-COMMITTEE
Under the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Committee on Fisheries (COFI), the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture met from 7-11 August 2003 in Trondheim, Norway to improve the framework for the sustainable development of the world's aquaculture sector.
During the meeting, representatives from FAO member countries addressed a range of issues, including the environmental impacts of shrimp-farming, the use of antibiotics by aquaculture, the introduction of non-native fish species into new regions, harmonization of trade standards, and the need for better monitoring of product safety. At the conclusion of the meeting, delegates agreed that the FAO will develop detailed guidelines for the responsible management of fish farms aimed at both improving the quality of fish farmed and at reducing the negative environmental impacts of fish farming. A reference compendium of aquaculture-related legislation will also be produced. Other activities that were highlighted for FAO action, inter alia: developing capacity-building programmes that will help governments strengthen efforts to monitor and improve the safety of aquaculture products; providing technical support to help countries conduct environmental impact studies of proposed aquaculture operations and better handle the introduction of non-native exotic fish species by fish farmers; conducting studies on the emerging practice of tuna fattening and its environmental consequences; and performing a case-study based-analysis of the environmental and social impacts of different kinds of aquaculture operations for use in long-term planning by governments.
FAO will also work to improve information sharing between importing and exporting nations and, via the international Codex Alimentarius Commission, to develop international standards for the safety of fish products. In addition, FAO will evaluate various labeling systems being used to certify aquaculture products as safe and environmentally friendly, with a view to encouraging worldwide adoption of a single set of science-based standards. The meeting's official report will be available on the FAO Fisheries Department website starting in September. For more information visit: http://www.fao.org/fi/NEMS/events/detail_event.asp?event_id=...
HELCOM/OSPAR Ministerial Meeting
Invited by the Federal Republic of Germany, the Baltic Marine Environment Commission (Helsinki Commission - HELCOM) and the Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) held their first joint meeting at the ministerial level in Bremen, Germany from 25-26 June 2003.
This meeting aimed to improve the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic and the Baltic Sea. Participants stressed the need for: an ecosystem approach to the management of human activities that affect the seas; collaboration between all national and international authorities to protect the seas, in the context of the EU's European Marine Strategy; and joint action to protect threatened and declining species and habitats. Ministers also considered the environmental impact of fisheries and shipping.
Prior to this joint meeting, the Helsinki and OSPAR Commissions held separate Ministerial meetings. HELCOM addressed oil pollution and eutrophication symptoms, prioritizing safe of navigation and emergency-response capacity, curbing deliberate illegal oil discharges and examination of the possibilities of designating the Baltic Sea as a “Particularly Sensitive Sea Area” by the International Maritime Organization. The OSPAR Commission adopted an instrument to ensure that all offshore installations in its area have, by 2005, environmental management systems that meet the highest international standards, as well as a new monitoring and assessment strategy to prepare for the next overall assessment in 2010. It also identified species and habitats in need of protection, established the basis for a network of marine protected areas, and reviewed implementation progress of the Radioactive Substances Strategy. Members also agreed to set a deadline for taking action on the conservation and protection of cold water corals.
For more information, see:
The meeting's joint press statement is available at:
WWF's press release on the meeting is available at:
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM EXTRAORDINARY ANNUAL MEETING
Water management was one of the key issue areas discussed at the World Economic Forum's Extraordinary Annual meeting, which took place in Amman, Jordan from 21-23 June 2003.
During a session on 23 June 2003, panelists discussed a wide range of water issues, including political barriers and opportunities for cooperation, water as a lever of social and economic development, the role of public-private partnerships, public health, integrated water management, and desalination. Much attention was give to water issues in the Middle East. Hazim El-Naser, Jordan's Minister of Water and Irrigation, told participants that there are more elements of cooperation than barriers to water issues in the region. The Minister pointed to Jordan's 1994 Peace Treaty with Israel, which covers water issues, as an example of a bilateral agreement that could serve as a model for regional cooperation. Avishay Braverman, President of Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, commented that water is an excuse for war, not a cause for war. “We cannot afford to wait for the politicians to respond to a crisis because they are myopic,” he said. “We must put a public private-partnership agenda in place and it must be long term.” Other speakers addressed water issues as they related to poverty alleviation, health and energy. For a summary of the meeting, see: http://www.weforum.org/site/knowledgenavigator.nsf/Content/W...
55TH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE INTERNATIONAL WHALING COMMISSION
The 55th Annual Meeting of the International Whaling Commission took place from 16-19 June 2003, in Berlin, Germany.
Among the meeting's accomplishments was the formalization of the Commission's role as a conservation body through Resolution 2003-1, the Berlin Initiative on Strengthening the Conservation Agenda of the IWC. With votes 25 in favor, 20 against and 1 abstention, it established a Conservation Committee to prepare and make recommendations on the IWC's conservation agenda.
The Commission also established an intersessional group to explore ways to move the Revised Management Scheme forward. Two proposals for sanctuaries in the South Pacific and South Atlantic failed to gain the necessary majorities and were rejected. The Commission rejected a proposal by Japan for catch limits of 150 minke whales and 150 Bryde's whales to be taken by coastal community-based whaling. On scientific permits, it passed a resolution urging countries to terminate or not to commence special permit catches, and another one asking Japan not to continue its special permit catches of Antarctic minke whales. For more information, visit: http://www.iwcoffice.org/2003_meeting.htm
and the meeting's final press release: http://www.iwcoffice.org/FinalPressRelease2003.htm
THE FIFTH MEETING OF THE MEDITERRANEAN WETLANDS (MEDWET) COMMITTEE
The fifth meeting of the Mediterranean Wetlands Committee (MedWet/Com-5) convened from 12-15 June 2003 in Izmir, Turkey.
MedWet/Com-5 met to discuss country reports on the implementation of the Ramsar Convention in the region and to discuss the MedWet Coordination Unit's proposed work and communications plans. A technical session considered the interaction of wetlands, agriculture and water use as part of the Conventions strategy of socioeconomic development and wetlands conservation. In addition, a small number of expert presentations were delivered with the aim of refining the implementation of relevant Ramsar resolutions in the Mediterranean Region and designing new paths of collaborations on the subject. During the meeting, participants visited the nearby Gediz Ramsar site. For more information visit: http://www.cevre.gov.tr/birimler/ck/medwetweb/ana.htm
13TH MEETING OF STATES PARTIES TO THE CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA
The 13th meeting of State Parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea met from 9-13 June 2003 at UN Headquarters in New York to discuss the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and its budget.
At the onset of the meeting, Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland was elected as meeting president, succeeding Don McKay of New Zealand. Parties adopted the 2004 budget for the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in the amount of $8,039,000, together with the staffing table for the Registry containing 16 Professional and 21 General Service posts. The new budget represents a significant reduction in comparison to the proposed amount of $8,614,900, which had been presented at the opening of the session. A total of six draft decisions were adopted on various budgetary and administrative questions, including death and disability benefits for judges of the Tribunal, the court's expenses in 2004 and its staff assessment fund. Delegates also discussed the application of article 319 of the Convention, pursuant to which the Meetings of States Parties are convened, and heard a statement by the Director of the Centre for Seafarers' Rights, who requested the Meeting to place on its agenda a thorough review of the Convention's protections for persons employed at sea, and review how States implemented them. More information can be found at the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea at: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/meeting_states_parties/meeting_s...
DEFYING OCEAN'S END CONFERENCE
The Defying Ocean's End (DOE) conference took place from 30 May to 3 June 2003 in Los Cabos, Mexico.
Supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, this event brought together scientists, economists, conservationists, and senior government representatives from more than 20 countries with the aim of developing a comprehensive and achievable agenda to reverse the decline in health of the world's ocean. The meeting resulted in several preliminary recommendations, including, inter alia, the need to: promote a World Ocean Public Trust; expand the global system of marine parks; and to create an ocean ethic. To ensure that the DOE's agenda becomes a reality, an anonymous donor has provided Conservation International, the coordinating organization of the conference, a US$5 million, five-year grant. The grant requires $4 million in matching funds, to bring the total to $9 million of funding. More information is available at: http://www.conservation.org/xp/news/press_releases/030303.xm...
MIDDLE EAST WATER AND ENERGY WORKSHOP
The World Bank-organized roundtable on water and energy in the Middle East convened from 27-28 May 2003 in Beit-Meri, Lebanon, bringing together 150 participants from governments, the private sector and the donor community to address critical financing and policy needs for the water and power sectors in the Middle East and North Africa.
Participants discussed several critical areas for improving water and power infrastructure, such as private sector participation and regulation. Many noted that the private sector will play a significant role in meeting the financing needs of both sectors, and recognized that in order to attract the private sector, proper regulatory frameworks based on transparent procedures need to be in place. Private sector participants also called for more streamlined procedures for transactions and enhanced upstream involvement of the Bank in risk sharing. For more information visit: http://web.worldbank.org
INTERNATIONAL GROUNDWATER INDICATORS MEETING
This meeting, organized by UNESCO's World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the International Association of Hydrologists (IAH), convened from 25-26 May 2003 in Vienna, Austria to discuss ways and means to better develop international groundwater indicators.
The expert group identified nine indicators to be developed, including two recommendations that highlighted groundwater as an intrinsic part of the hydrological cycle and proposed that groundwater should be integrated within a broader economic and social dimension. The WWAP, a UN system-wide global assessment of the world's freshwater resources and their uses, has issued a call for public participation in developing indicators to assess the global water situation. For more information, visit: http://www.unesco.org/water/wwap/news/index.shtml#call_indic...
ICRI COORDINATING AND PLANNING COMMITTEE MEETING
The International Coral Reef Initiative's (ICRI) Coordinating and Planning Committee (CPC) meeting, hosted by the Ramsar Convention Bureau and IUCN–The World Conservation Union, met in Gland, Switzerland from 8-9 May 2003.
The meeting was highlighted by the transfer of the ICRI Secretariat to the United Kingdom for the next two year period, starting July 2003, with the Seychelles as the developing country co-host. The complete meeting report, including resolutions and recommendations, will be made available in the ICRI Forum at: http://www.icriforum.org
ATHENS WATER CONFERENCE - An international conference on sustainable development for lasting peace
An international conference on sustainable development for lasting peace was held from 6-7 May 2003 in Athens, Greece under the auspices of the Greek government.
Attended by approximately 150 participants representing governments, the private sector and civil society, delegates conducted a thematic review of opportunities and constraints related to cross-border management of river basins, lake basins, and shared aquifers. The Athens Declaration endorsed a new form of Diplomacy for Environment and Sustainable Development to enhance cooperation on water at all levels of foreign and domestic policy, among governments, international agencies, private industries, and the full array of nongovernmental organizations. Discussions also included the creation of two new potential cooperative water programmes - the Southeastern Europe Transboundary River Basin and Lake Basin Management Programme, and the Mediterranean Shared Aquifers Management Programme. More information can be found at: http://www.gwpmed.org/athens_may_2003/concept_note_athens_ma...
Third World Water Forum Adopts Ministerial Declaration
March 2003: Participants at the 3rd World Water Forum met in 351 sessions organized around 33 themes and five Regional Days. Theme issues encompassed a range of topics including: supply, sanitation, hygiene and water pollution; cities; governance; floods; integrated water resources management; peace; agriculture and food; poverty; financing water infrastructure; and dams and sustainable development.
In many sessions, delegates debated the human right to water, and financing water infrastructure, with no agreement on either matter. The Forum concluded on Sunday, 23 March, following issue of a preliminary Summary Forum Statement. On Saturday, 22 March, and Sunday, 23 March, delegates to the Ministerial Conference discussed five themes in sub-groups: safe drinking water and sanitation; water for food and development; water pollution prevention and ecosystem conservation; disaster mitigation and risk management; and water resources management and benefit sharing. The Conference closed on Sunday following adoption of a Ministerial Declaration and a Portfolio of Water Actions.
Preliminary Summary Forum Statement:
This statement commits participants to meeting the goals and targets identified in the Millennium Declaration, the International Freshwater Conference in Bonn and the WSSD. It notes that freshwater is a precious and finite resource that is central to sustainable development, economic growth, social stability and poverty alleviation. It identifies key water issues including safe and clean water for all, governance, capacity building, financing, participation, regional priorities, global awareness, political support and local action.
In relation to partnerships, participation and dialogue, the Preliminary Forum Statement calls for the empowerment and involvement of local people, local authorities, the research community, farmers, industry, women and minority groups in the development of basin and aquifer strategies, agreements and institutions. It emphasizes the need for stakeholder representatives and local authorities to be given a permanent and official role in decision making and implementation, and the inclusion of community knowledge, practices and rights in water management.
With regard to nature and ecosystems, it recommends: protecting and restoring ecosystems and aquifers; implementing environmental flows; developing multistakeholder approaches; integrating land, mountain, forest and water resources management; developing basin-wide pollution prevention and treatment plans; creating innovative financing and legal frameworks; and prioritizing water-demand management.
On financing and investment it recommends that governments translate water laws, strategies and plans into realistic budget estimates and financing plans for water in all WEHAB sectors. It suggests that governments and local authorities take adequate measures to reduce risk and improve cost recovery, and stresses that the primary responsibility for such investments rests with national governments. It encourages governments and donors to give particular attention to pro-poor, affordable and appropriate technologies in their investment strategies.
Noting the need to prioritize water issues in policy and strategic planning, the Statement underscores the importance of preparing IWRM plans by 2005 in accordance with the WSSD's outcomes. It also encourages national and local governments to develop and implement basin-wide pollution treatment and prevention plans, and adopt financial, legal and institutional incentives for pollution prevention. Underscoring the need to adopt strategies that mitigate effects of climate variability and natural hazards, it recommends the development of comprehensive and integrated flood and drought management policies. It notes the importance of considering appropriate targets for the productive use of water through increasing food production, and of achieving targets for decreasing malnourishment and rural poverty.
With regard to institutions and legislation, the Preliminary Summary Forum Statement recommends that governments start or continue reforms of public water institutions, and emphasizes good governance, cost-efficiency, transparency and accountability, stakeholder participation and public-private partnerships.
Ministerial Recommendation on Water for Food and Agriculture:
This Recommendation, which was negotiated by senior officials on 20 March, identifies food security and poverty alleviation, sustainable water use and partnerships as key challenges for the agricultural sector. It outlines a plan of action, including commitments to: modernize and improve agricultural water use; increase water productivity; promote better governance; consider environmental aspects; undertake research and development; and foster international cooperation.
The Declaration takes note of the thematic and regional statements and recommendations from the Forum and declares that water is a driving force for sustainable development. With regard to general policies, it emphasizes that Ministers should ensure good governance with a stronger focus on community-based approaches addressing equity, mobilize private and public financing, promote IWRM, and identify and develop PPPs, while ensuring the necessary public control and legal frameworks to protect public interests. It affirms that Ministers are committed, in the long term, to fortify capacity with assistance from the international community.
Regarding water resources management and benefit sharing, Ministers encourage riparian States to promote cooperation on transboundary and boundary watercourses, and to recognize hydropower as a renewable, clean energy source. The Declaration states that Ministers will assist developing countries with the aim of developing IWRM and water efficiency plans by 2005, encourage scientific research on the global water cycle, promote demand management measures, and endeavor to develop and deploy non-conventional water resources.
On safe drinking water and sanitation, the Declaration notes that basic hygiene practices should be encouraged and efforts to promote technical breakthroughs related to the provision of safe drinking water and basic sanitation should be intensified. It calls on Ministers in all countries to develop strategies to halve the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and the proportion without access to basic sanitation by 2015.
Regarding water for food and rural development, the Declaration stipulates that every effort should be made to reduce unsustainable water management and improve the efficiency of agricultural water use, and that freshwater fish production should be addressed through intensified efforts to improve riverine water quality and quantity. It encourages international cooperation and investment, research and development for the progressive improvement of agricultural water management, and the promotion of community-based development.
On water pollution prevention and ecosystem conservation, the Declaration recognizes the need to intensify water pollution prevention, and to protect and use in a sustainable manner ecosystems that naturally capture, filter, store and release water. It urges countries to establish and review appropriate legislative frameworks for the protection and sustainable use of water resources and for water pollution prevention, and to concentrate efforts to combat deforestation, desertification and land degradation.
On disaster mitigation and risk management, the Declaration notes the need for a comprehensive approach to mitigate the growing severity of floods and droughts, and says Ministers will enhance where appropriate the sharing and exchange of data, information, knowledge and experiences at the international level.
The Sustainable Developments report outlining these discussions in detail can be found at: http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/sd/3wwf/
FIRST PEOPLE'S WORLD WATER FORUM
Participants to the First People's World Water Forum met from 21-22 March 2003 in Florence, Italy.
Convened as an alternative forum to the 3rd World Water Forum held in Kyoto the same week, the Peoples' Water Forum called for recognition of water as a legally enforceable human right and urged an end to the trend of water privatization. This Forum was also organized as a follow-up to the World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre every January, an event which in itself is held as an alternative response to the Davos World Economic Forum. More information on the 1st People's World Water Forum is available online at: http://www.contrattoacqua.it
29th session of the Ramsar Convention Standing Committee
The Ramsar Standing Committee convened for its 29th meeting from 26-28 February to select regional experts for the Convention's scientific subsidiary body – the Scientific and Technical Panel (STRP).
Together with BirdLife International, IUCN-The World Conservation Union, Wetlands International, WWF International and other invited experts from NGOs and MEA Secretariats, these 14 new regional experts will serve as full members of the STRP for the triennium 2003-2005. The STRP will review priorities set by the Standing Committee and consider the way forward at the Panel's first meeting, which is scheduled for 8-11 April 2003 in Gland, Switzerland. Max Finlayson and Heather MacKay were appointed to serve as STRP's Chair and Vice-Chair respectively. More information is available at: http://ramsar.org/w.n.strp_named_2003.htm