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Volume 82 Number 17 - Wednesday, 18 March 2009
5TH WORLD WATER FORUM HIGHLIGHTS
TUESDAY, 17 MARCH 2009
On Tuesday, participants convened in plenary to hear a keynote address by the Crown Prince of Japan. They attended the Americas and European regional presentations, high level panels, and sessions related to the themes “global change and risk management” and “governance and management.” Numerous events on finance also took place, while side events convened at lunch and in the evening.

KEYNOTE ADDRESS

The Crown Prince of Japan addressed the high-level panel on disaster and climate, welcoming the Action Plan, which sets out means for implementing the Hyogo Framework for Action. He said the Action Plan captures the need to establish targets to articulate actions for reducing loss of life and livelihoods and providing adequate drinking water and sanitation during disasters. Addressing the history of flood management in Japan, he noted that civilizations have always had to prioritize between disaster management, sanitation and water supply. He concluded by emphasizing the need to learn from past experiences and to bring creative minds together to chart long-term visions for the management of individual river basins.

HIGH-LEVEL PANELS

WATER AND DISASTERS: Opening the session, World Water Council (WWC) President Loïc Fauchon listed the urgent imperatives called for by the Hyogo Framework for Action, which are to: galvanize and mobilize before disaster strikes; prioritize systems to forecast; inform, alert and evacuate; incorporate disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in development planning; improve disaster response; and provide safe water and toilets quickly when disaster or conflict strikes.

Han Seung-soo, Prime Minister, Republic of Korea, highlighted the need to increase global resilience by: sharing hydrological data; minimizing the damage caused by sea level rise; facilitating studies on infrastructure construction; creating appropriate legal and policy frameworks; and establishing processes to identify the progress and shortfalls in the Framework for Action. UN Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang noted the work of various UN agencies to assist developing countries create and implement national disaster plans.

During the first panel discussion, Sayid Yakub, Tajikistan, said dams and reservoirs are the most efficient way to mitigate the impact of drought and inundation. Robert Van Antwerp, US, emphasized the importance of shifting from a reactive to a proactive and preventive disaster management strategy. Sadik Yamaç, Turkey, outlined Turkey’s disaster management and preventive action strategies. Shaikh Wahid uz-Zaman, Bangladesh, noted the need for additional resources in disaster management to secure the future of vulnerable groups.

During discussions, panelists raised issues regarding: education and knowledge development; priority setting for the international community; forecasting and early warning systems; stricter zoning laws; capacity-building, financial and technical assistance for developing countries; prompt international assistance during disaster events; technology transfers; and cooperation between Afghanistan and Tajikistan over their common lake basin.

Margareta Wahlström, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, noted that UN-ISDR has received 90 country reports on disaster risk thus far and that major areas of progress include political support and capacity building in disaster preparedness and response, while the major weakness is addressing the root causes of disasters, such as land use and poverty.

During a second panel, panelists addressed, inter alia: the role of the World Bank in mitigation and adaptation; the importance of ground observations; the complementarity of emergency response and prevention; government response to disasters; and organizational preparedness.

FINANCE: In the High Level Panel on Finance, Chair Mehmet Şimşek, Minister of State, Turkey, explained that while there is increased stress on funding due to the economic crisis, there are ways to address and secure finances for water and sanitation for those who need them most, including through the private sector and international financial institutions.

In the first session, Prince of Orange Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands emphasized the need to recommit to the MDGs, most notably on water and sanitation, and called for: political will; increased or leveraged funds; local currency-based debt markets; and targeted official development assistance (ODA).

Noting that 1 billion people lack access to water and 2.4 billion to sanitation, UN Under-Secretary-General Sha Zukang said it is a moral imperative to provide these services, and that these issues must be mainstreamed into discussions on financing for development. Angel Gurría, OECD, stressed the need to act quickly to encourage governments to incorporate water projects into fiscal stimulus packages.

Simon Brooks, European National Bank, highlighted difficulties in achieving decentralized management without fragmentation and the importance of developing blended financing strategies. Arjun Thapan, Asian Development Bank, stated that sustaining water and sanitation supply gains in Asia requires a focus on governance and efficiency.

Participants discussed: the need to account for social and environmental policies; whether multilateral financial institutions have different standards for developed and developing countries; and whether private companies will invest in infrastructure for developing countries.

In the second session, Katherine Sierra, World Bank, described the water sector as chronically underfunded, emphasized the need to avoid a “lost decade” in water and sanitation investment, and recommended linking water and energy efficiency initiatives.

Alexander Müller, FAO, focused on the need for investment in water for agriculture, stressing the role of agricultural activities in food production and poverty reduction. He listed benefits from irrigation, including: increased crop yields, stabilized output, and increased farm incomes. Kazushi Hashimoto, Japan International Cooperation Agency, discussed mobilizing local financial resources for water and sanitation, and described the importance of using ODA to leverage private funds.

Patrick Cairo, Suez Environnement, identified four key aspects of water provision affected by the financial crisis, namely: capital improvements; cash flows; revenue streams; and low-income assistance programmes and social support agencies. He stated that the private sector has an important role to play in management, infrastructure development and capacity building.

Questions from participants addressed, inter alia: the role of technology in addressing water scarcity and in improving agricultural production and water storage; water demands of energy sources, including renewable sources such as biofuels; and demand management.

LAUNCH OF OECD REPORT

Presenting the OECD report, “Managing Water for All: An OECD Perspective on Pricing and Financing – Key Messages for Policy Makers,” Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, called for a political focus on freshwater in addition to the areas of finance, fuel and food, and for using tariffs, taxes and aid transfers (3Ts) for sustainable cost recovery.

Hasan Sarikaya, Undersecretary, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Turkey, stated that access to irrigation technology and infrastructure must accompany training and education to improve efficient water use in agriculture.

Loïc Fauchon, WWC President, stressed the links between demand and supply policies, and between pricing and financing of water. He proposed that future discussions focus on developing specific approaches for financing energy for water access.

Gérard Payen, UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB), emphasized building the capacity of water utilities, ensuring predictability of public funding, and developing sustainable cost recovery measures to leverage investments in the sector.

Arjun Thapan, Asian Development Bank, said the Bank has achieved the Camdessus target of doubling water investments in the region. He highlighted raising tariffs and scaling up environmental sanitation services in Asia’s megacities as potential win-win strategies, and cited the privatization of Manila Water and a twinning programme for utilities in the region as success stories.

During the discussion, panelists and participants discussed, inter alia: risk management and other incentives for private-sector involvement; positive experiences in cost recovery in developing countries; and the need to improve benchmarking of cost recovery.

EXPERT PANEL

TECHNICAL EXPERTS PANEL ON WATER AND THE FINANCIAL CRISIS: Jamal Saghir, World Bank, introduced the session as one of twelve panels focusing on water financing during the Forum, and stressed that panel participants were speaking in their personal capacities. He called the intersection of the financial crisis with the existing climate change, energy, food and water crises, a “perfect storm.”

Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General, said the financial crisis provides an opportunity to advance water sector reforms. Stressing that every dollar invested in water and sanitation saves 4-12 dollars in health and social costs, he stated that the challenge confronting the sector is to use available research to “tell the good story.” Usha Rao-Monari, International Finance Corporation, highlighted measures being taken by international financial institutions and partners to attract long-term finance and equity capital. José Frade, European Investment Bank, underscored the need to minimize risk and increase affordability of water services in developing countries.

On national and local initiatives, Sergio Soto Priante, National Water Commission, Mexico, discussed measures to attract private capital in Mexico’s stimulus package, including “stapled credit” to boost private investments. Speaking on water reforms, Cafer Uzunkaya, Istanbul Sewage and Water Administration, underlined the need for efficient finance and water resources. Jeremias Paul, Department of Finance, the Philippines, suggested that to attract more funding from finance ministries, water projects should emphasize their ability to deliver health, education and poverty alleviation benefits.

Patrick Cairo, Suez Environnement, highlighted the financial crisis’ impact on water utilities funded through municipal bonds in the US, including reduced “willingness to pay” by domestic and industrial consumers.

Participants discussed: the appropriate balance of the “3Ts;” the role of institutional mechanisms; balancing payments for water and water as a right; and reducing the risk of water investment in developing countries.

REGIONAL PRESENTATIONS

Americas: Benedito Braga, WWC Vice-President, opened the Americas session. Loïc Fauchon, WWC President, said the regions must propose to the WWC means to follow up on regional work.

During the opening session, Maria Concepcíon Donoso, UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme, introduced representatives from the sub-regions of the Americas to report on key sub-regional outcomes. State of Mexico Governor Enrique Peña Nieto said innovative approaches are needed to address the growing burden of recharging and transporting water. Gerald Sehlke, American Water Resources Association, said the US must develop a national water vision within its federal system.

Tomás Vaquero, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Honduras, Horace Chang, Minister of Water and Housing, Jamaica, and Patricia Aquing, Caribbean Environmental Health Institute, stressed that the Central American and Caribbean regions are vulnerable to climate change and require support from developed countries. Luis Zurita Tablada, Vice-Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Guatemala, said his sub-region is developing a Central American Action Plan to access and manage water resources.

José Luís Genta, Ministry of Housing, Land Planning and Environment, Uruguay, called for an international water pact and stressed that water must be a public good. José Machado, National Water Agency, Brazil, emphasized that all stakeholders must be involved in integrated water resource management to avoid conflict over water resources.

In a panel on sub-regional case studies, panelists noted increased stresses on transboundary water resources due to economic development, population growth and climate change. They highlighted pressing issues for transboundary water management, including the need for, inter alia: flexible legal frameworks that incorporate international cooperative bodies to avoid “diplomatic gridlock”; institutions to ensure that laws are mediated and implemented; water management to prevent conflict; and regional knowledge sharing. They also highlighted the importance of international groundwater agreements.

In a final panel, representatives from the Ibero-American Water Training Program, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Global Environment Facility highlighted financing and capacity-building initiatives in Central and Latin America, including partnerships with the Spanish government through the Spanish Water and Sanitation Fund. They addressed, inter alia, the need for: training, capacity building and technology transfer of low-cost, low-investment technologies; improving water operator efficiency; and financing wastewater treatment.

Jerome Priscoli, US Army Corps of Engineers, introduced the Americas Regional Document, describing the multi-stakeholder process from which it was created. He said it contains twelve recommendations, which include: promoting social inclusion and poverty eradication through universal access to water supply and sanitation, and through productive water use; and developing good regulation and economic incentives to ensure water sustainability.

While some participants lauded the participatory process by which the Americas document was created, others said the process was not sufficiently inclusive and that its recommendations were not new. Some stressed the need to prioritize amongst the recommendations, while others suggested the need for sustained financing, not only for short-term water supply. Discussions continued at the WWC Pavilion over lunch.

EUROPE: Tom Vereijken, European Water Partnership, introduced the European process in preparation for the 5th World Water Forum, which led to: a European water vision; the water stewardship and awareness programmes; and the realization of a European water-house to share technologies and best practices.

During keynote presentations, WWC President Loïc Fauchon stated that it is the role of political leaders to take up solutions proposed in the Forum, and emphasized the importance of regional cooperation. Marta Moren, Water Director, Spain, presented on water scarcity and drought in the EU within the context of the European Water Directive. Jacqueline McGlade, European Environmental Agency, noted that no part of Europe is immune to water scarcity and said supply-led management is unsustainable.

A first panel addressed “Europe’s achievements and challenges on water.” Renske Peters, Ministry for Transport, Public Works and Water Management, the Netherlands, stressed the need for a long-term and inclusive governance framework for sustainable water use.  Anna Tsvíetkova, Water and Sanitation Programme, Ukraine, spoke on the role of water partnerships in initiating water dialogue in her country, while José Pascual Gil, City of Castellón, Spain, highlighted innovations by the irrigation sector in the Valencia region. Diane d’Arras, Suez Environnement, highlighted technical innovations to enhance wastewater treatment and reuse. Jean François le Grand, Country Council of Manche in Normandy, France, emphasized the need for locally adaptive solutions. Doris Köhn, KPW Bank, Germany, noted that risk-management tradeoffs need to be made in improving water infrastructure, while Matthias Kollatz Ahnen, European Investment Bank, stressed that macroeconomic stability at the national level contributes to the “bankability” of water projects.

Sascha Gabizon, Women in Europe for a Common Future (WECF), introduced the session on European actions to achieve sustainable sanitation for all and highlighted key drivers for reform, including health issues, funding and incentives for sanitation. Helmut Blöch, European Commission, described key principles of EU policy on sanitation, wastewater treatment and drinking water standards, citing the protection of rivers as a key achievement. Blöch said groundwater pollution remains a problem.

Panelists presented and discussed four case studies on: the 2008 Swiss national awareness campaign; water treatment and sanitation innovations in the Paris metropolitan area and the Netherlands; and the promotion of ecosan toilets in rural areas of Moldova.

Summarizing the key challenges facing the future development of the sector, Peter Cook, European Water Association, identified mitigating climate change, coping with population movements and upgrading infrastructure.

Laszlo Kothay, State Secretary for Water, Hungary, chaired the final session on basin management and transboundary cooperation. In his keynote address, Jean François le Grand, International Network of Basin Organizations, highlighted that many basins, lakes and rivers are shared in Europe and noted that the European Water Directive provides a common framework for harmonization of practices.

Panelists made presentations on the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River; the role of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Water Convention in Central Asia; the EU-China River Basin Management Programme on assisting China in the Yellow and Yangtze river basins; and the implementation of basin management for the Senegal river.

THEMATIC SESSIONS

THEME ON GOVERNANCE AND MANAGEMENT

FROM RIGHT TO REALITY – GOOD GOVERNMENT PRACTICES FOR IMPLEMENTING THE HUMAN RIGHT TO WATER AND SANITATION: Chair Uschi Eid, UNSGAB, noted that action on the human right to water has gained momentum in the last five years. Santha Sheela Nair, Ministry of Rural Development, India, emphasized that people need to ensure the recognition of the human right to water, and a right to water for all life. Kerubo Ikioga, Centre On Housing Rights and Evictions, Kenya, emphasized that legal entitlement is a prerequisite to gaining benefits from the rights to water and sanitation. Lucinda O’Hanlon, Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, presented the UN Independent Expert on Water and Sanitation’s mandate, stressing that she wants to advance the dialogue on the right to water and sanitation.

Celestine Kaseve, Nairobi Water Company, Kenya, said the Company is recognizing the right to water by ensuring affordable water pricing for informal settlers, who comprise 60% of Nairobi’s population. Vibhu Nayar, Minister for Water, Tamil Nadu, India, emphasized the challenge of addressing discrimination at the individual and institutional levels in order to implement the right to water.

Ivan Lanegra, Ombudsman Office of Peru, described his Office’s efforts to upgrade sewage services, especially in rural and non-urban areas, and to monitor whether the services meet those areas’ needs. Francesca Bernardini, UN Economic Commission for Europe, discussed Europe’s Protocol on Water and Health, a legally binding agreement that pairs environment and health with the objective of universal access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Panelists discussed the need for the 5th World Water Forum’s Ministerial Declaration to reflect the “world’s mood” that water is a human right and the need for a legal framework and multi-sectoral approach to implement the right to water.

Cyprian Mazubane, South Africa, highlighted the strong language in South Africa’s constitution on the protection of the right to water and said “water is life but sanitation is dignity.” Simone Klawitter, German Organisation for Technical Cooperation, described the experience of providing water and sanitation in Zambia through the establishment of a pro-poor “basket funding” instrument.

Henry Smets, French Water Academy, proposed that each country should use an index to calculate water affordability. Sabin Intxaurrage, Basque Water Ministry, described the forthcoming “Water for Life and Sustainable Development Basque Initiative” to implement the right to water as a human right. Francois Muenger, France, noted that the “human rights approach” forces the identification of discrimination by highlighting the problem of access to water and sanitation for those who live in slums.

Adriana Marquisio, Union for the Public Water Company, Uruguay, urged creating a complementary declaration to the Ministerial Declaration that expresses the need for the right to water. Shaddad Al Attilli, Palestinian Water Authority, said the mention of a right to water in the Ministerial Declaration would help his Authority to provide water to users.

Participants discussed, inter alia: transboundary water rights; drawbacks and benefits of water privatization; and the need to recognize water as a human right at the national and international levels.

THEME ON GLOBAL CHANGE AND RISK MANAGEMENT

MANAGING WATER-RELATED RISKS IN A CHANGING CLIMATE: Kwon Do Youp, Vice Minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, Korea, opened the session by highlighting the increase in disasters caused by climate change and the need to minimize damages and increase resilience through: effective responses; construction of infrastructure; implementation of integrated flood management; and exchange of information.

Avinash Tyagi, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), outlined the nature of climate change-related water risks and Toshio Okazumi, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan, noted the ways in which Japan is implementing risk-based flood management. 

Chris Zevenbergen, UNESCO-Institute for Water Education, stressed the need to bring about action by: changing risk perception, communication and human behavior; learning from best practices and failures; and building networks and relationships. He emphasized that extreme events may create the potential for disaster, but that disaster is created by human response to those extreme events. Zevenbergen underscored the need, inter alia, to focus on impacts rather than probabilities and on knowledge dissemination. He proposed the establishment of an international flood resilience center to demonstrate and share innovations in management and technology.

Panelists and participants then discussed: new water-related disasters; the economic costs of climate change; creation of an adaptive resilience center; the inclusion of urban meteorology in urban planning strategies; and cross-border river basin flooding.

Saeed Nairizi, Iran, described activities undertaken by the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage related to drought, water scarcity and risk management. He said past work has addressed drought management strategies and indices and suggested that future work include implementation and redefinition of conventional definitions of agricultural water use.

Mary-Jeanne Adler, Romania, presented her country’s efforts to address potential water-related climate change disasters. Highlighting the Danube basin disaster response mechanism, she emphasized the importance of forecasting and sharing experiences when dealing with potential disasters and stressed the need for a culture of quick response to disasters.

Soontak Lee, Korea, gave a presentation on the design of infrastructure for climate change resilience in Korea. He observed that the effects of climate change in his country have been abnormal, and highlighted the rehabilitation of dams as an example of designing hydrological structures based on projected climatic change.

Cees van de Guchte, the Netherlands, said his country is an example of successful risk management. On climate risk mitigation, he emphasized the roles of innovative and unconventional technologies, regular reassessment of risk and the concept of “building with nature.”

Basanta Shrestha, Nepal, stressed the unique challenges faced by mountain communities, and highlighted the importance of reducing uncertainty, increasing adaptive capacity and enhancing the resilience of those communities.

Participants then discussed the responsibility of national governments and raised issues concerning the need to: address factors that lead to climate change; address climate change holistically; ensure efficacy of early warning systems; and improve financing of projects.

Zafar Adeel, United Nations University, concluded by noting the need to focus simultaneously on mitigation and adaptation, look at policy responses at the national level and invest in infrastructure. He also emphasized the critical need to downscale climate models.

SIDE EVENTS

PRINCE ALBERT II OF MONACO FOUNDATION: PROJECTS AND INITIATIVES WITHIN THE FIELDS OF INTEGRATED AND SUSTAINABLE WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: A Partnership Initiative for integrated and sustainable water resource management in the Mediterranean region, led by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, was presented by the Prince. He stressed the need for projects that span international, national and regional levels.

Bernard Fautrier, Vice President and CEO of the Foundation, listed its priorities, which include biodiversity, climate and water, and outlined three focal areas for the Mediterranean region, namely: access to water; sustainable water and knowledge management; and experience sharing.

Partner organizations to the Initiative described their envisioned contributions and ideas. Several speakers noted the challenges of reconciling the mismatch between ecological systems and political borders for water management, and saw the project as an effort to make decentralized and locally-based management compatible with basin-level considerations. Lucien Chabason, Blue Plan, said that while the project addressed financial and technical concerns, it also recognized the importance of addressing governance at multiple levels. Jocelyn Fenard, UN Institute for Training and Research, emphasized the concrete and practical nature of the initiative, and discussed how the research might be translated into action. Dominique Heron, Veolia Environment, highlighted the added value of the project partners’ cross-cutting expertise. In closing, practical experiences from Mexico and Togo were presented.

The World Water Forum Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <info@iisd.ca>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <enb@iisd.org>. This issue was written and edited by Robynne Boyd, Claudio Chiarolla, Alexandra Conliffe, Tallash Kantai, Wangu Mwangi, Kate Neville, and Anna Schulz. The Photographer is Leila Mead. The Digital Editor is Diego Noguera. The Editor is Lisa Schipper, Ph.D. <lisa@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the 5th World Water Forum Secretariat. IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (in HTML and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <http://www.iisd.ca/>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11A, New York, New York 10022, United States of America. The IISD team at the 5th World Water Forum can be contacted by e-mail at <alexandra@iisd.org>.
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