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4th World Water Forum

Mexico City | March 16-22, 2006

World Water Forum Opens in Mexico

The 4th World Water Forum opened on Thursday, 16 March 2006 in Mexico City, Mexico, and will continue until Wednesday, 22 March 2006. As the main international event on freshwater, the Forum seeks to enable multi-stakeholder participation and dialogue to influence water policy making at a global level, in pursuit of sustainable development.

The Forum's main theme, "Local actions for a global challenge," will be addressed through five framework themes: water for growth and development; implementing integrated water resources management (IWRM); water supply and sanitation for all; water management for food and the environment; and risk management. Over 200 thematic sessions are scheduled, and more than 11,000 participants are expected to attend, representing governments, UN agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academia, industry, indigenous groups, youth and the media.

Above: President Vicente Fox Quesada of Mexico addressed participants during the opening plenary.


Thursday, 16 March
Opening Plenary

Cristóbal Jaime Jáquez, Co-Chair of the 4th World Water Forum, emphasized the importance of water to national security, the need for long-term vision on water management, and the need to enable people to face water and development challenges based on cooperation and tolerance.

Loïc Fauchon, President of the World Water Council (WWC) and Co-Chair of the 4th World Water Forum, stressed that lack of access to safe drinking water and poor water quality are unacceptable, and that the right to water is indispensable to human dignity.

Prince of Orange Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands stressed that global water challenges must be met with local actions. He highlighted water-related findings of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, urged implementation of IWRM, and stressed consideration of water issues in energy, agriculture and other policies.
King Hassan II Prize

Mohamed Eyazghi, Morocco's Minister of Environment, introduced the King Hassan II Great World Water Prize. He announced that the international jury had selected Torkil Jønch-Clausen (Denmark) for his scientific excellence and support for international cooperation and solidarity in the field of water. In his acceptance remarks, Jønch-Clausen stressed that his award is a result of cooperation between the Danish Government, the DHI-Water & Environment and the Global Water Partnership, and announced that the Prize money would be used to fund women from developing countries to study water issues.
Roundtable: Introduction to the 4th World Water Forum


Margaret Catley-Carlson, Chair of the Global Water Partnership, introduced the panel and the Compendium's six vital areas: water operators partnership; financing; sanitation; monitoring and reporting; IWRM; and disaster measures.

José Angel Gurría Treviño, incoming Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), emphasized that although practices and commitments have been adopted, flows of financing have not occurred.

Sojo Garza-Aldape speculated on the implications of showing the real price of water transport as a subsidy that is mainly given to high-income areas, and underscored the need for transparency in information for improved decision making.

Pedro Arrojo Agudo, President of the New Culture of Water Foundation, stressed that access to drinking water is not so much a financial but a political and democratic problem. Drawing attention to the various values assigned to water, he said that part of the problem has been prioritizing profit above access to water as a human right.

Julia Carabias Lillo, Coordinator of the Programme on Water, Environment and Society, National Autonomous University of Mexico/El Colegio de Mexico, said that although there have been various attempts at decentralization, experience is scarce. She stressed the need for real participation to enable legitimate organization.

On actions that can be taken at the UN level, Manuel Dengo said the problem is the absence of a mechanism that can accelerate the translation of global policies into actions that reflect local needs. He said local demands must meet top-level policies at a common point of agreement.
Special Presentation "From the 3rd to the 4th Forum"
Ryutaro Hashimoto, Chair of the UN Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, said the world is experiencing a water crisis that demands immediate action, and that most of the Millennium Development Goals cannot be achieved without solving water problems. He underlined recent global water-related developments since the 3rd Forum, including: the launch of the UN 2005-2015 International "Water for Life" Decade; the establishment of the UN Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation; discussions at the twelfth and thirteenth sessions of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) focusing on water and sanitation; and the African Ministerial Conference on Water. Hashimoto highlighted shortcomings in meeting the 3rd Forum's commitments, and concluded by calling for concrete action to resolve global water problems.
Around the Forum

IISD's Xenya Cherny Scanlon and Kimo Goree congratulated Achim Steiner, IUCN Director General, on his election minutes before by the United Nations General Assembly as the new Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).



The opening ceremonies featured music and traditional dances of Mexico.


More Information

4th World Water Forum Site
Conference Program
World Water Council

Related Links

3rd World Water Forum,
Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka, Japan, March 2003
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
Ramsar COP-9,
Kampala, Uganda, November 2005
3rd Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands,
Paris, France, January 2006

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