Third World Water Forum and Ministerial Conference held in ... - NGLS

Third World Water Forum and Ministerial Conference held in ... - NGLS

and sanitation with food production, transportation, energyand environmental needs. To achieve this, most countrieswill require more effective governance, improvedcapacity and adequate financing, delegates said.The Forum's outcome, the preliminary Summary ForumStatement, commits participants to meeting the goals andtargets identified in the Millennium Declaration, theInternational Freshwater Conference held in Bonn inDecember 2001, and the WSSD, but does not acknowledgewater as a human right. Instead, the final statementreads, “The human right to water was defined in aGeneral Comment by the UN Committee on Economic,Social and Cultural Rights (2002).” It notes, however, thatfreshwater is a precious and finite resource that is centralto sustainable development, economic growth, social stabilityand poverty alleviation.The preliminary Statement says the need for capacitybuilding, education and access to information forenhanced effectiveness in water management is unquestioned,yet it also points out that these elements are oftentreated as an add-on to programmes, with little regard tolocal capacity-building institutions, gender mainstreaming,cultural diversity and traditional knowledge or to long-termcommitment. It also highlights a number of key waterissues, including safe and clean water for all, governance,capacity building, financing water infrastructure,participation, regional priorities, global awareness, politicalsupport and local action. Some of these issues aredetailed below.Water and GovernanceThe Global Water Partnership (GWP) convened thetheme of Water and Governance, which included openingand closing plenaries and 14 other sessions addressingeffective water governance; lessons from multistakeholderpartnership projects; intergenerational water management;the right to water; best practices in water law;and water pricing, among other topics.“Governance determines who has access and under whatconditions, how quality is maintained and how decisionsare made and allocations are done in case of water shortage,”said Margaret Catley-Carlson, Chair of the GWP.“Governance and politics is about who gets what, by whatmeans and by how others are impacted,” said AlvaroUmana of the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP). “One of the difficulties in water governance is thatevery agency thinks the water belongs to them—butnobody wants to protect the water resource.”Ravi Narayan, from the NGO Water Aid, stated that the singlebiggest cause for failure in providing safe water to peopleis lack of good governance. “What is essential in thegovernance discussion is first to accept access to water as ahuman right and to determine the ownership of water,” saidMr. Narayan. “Water is a public good and belongs to thepeople that empower the government to govern it wisely.”Several participants highlighted the importance of stronglegal frameworks and community-based responsesinvolving all stakeholders, particularly women. Manyparticipants said that addressing corruption and providingcapacity building are prerequisites for effective governance,and called for governance dialogues at locallevels. Some participants questioned the legitimacy ofthe Forum's water and governance process and demandeda more participatory dialogue in the future.Many countries face a governance crisis, rather than awater crisis, the preliminary Forum Statement reads.“Good water governance requires effective and accountablesocio-political and administrative systems adoptingan integrated water resources management (IWRM)approach with transparent and participatory processesthat address ecological and human needs.”Financing Water InfrastructureConvened by the GWP and the World Water Council(WWC), the subject of financing the water sector—one ofthe most contentious issues debated during the Forum—was discussed during many sessions, ranging from waterand finance; finance for local water management; publicand private sector management; urban investment; andthe need to mobilize local capital, among others.Forum delegates debated whether there was a place forprofit making in water development and management.Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warned participantsthat the global water crisis could spur “real conflicts”in the future. Some groups shared the opinion thatgovernments should provide water for all with nocharge, while others said that the private sector could bean important partner.“If we put profit first, people come second,” said MaudeBarlow, from the NGO Council of the Canadians. Herargument was that if freshwater becomes a commodity,water will go to those who can afford it and not to thosewho need it. Wenonah Hauter of Public Citizen, the USpublic interest group founded by Ralph Nader, asked, “Ifprivatization does not work in a rich, industrializednation like the United States, how can it work on a globalscale?” Ms. Hauter cited a private company's failure toprovide water for the city of Atlanta.Canadian activist Claude Genereux said the term “publicprivatepartnership” was code for “privatization” andwarned of the perils of such strategies, using the exampleof a US firm whose abandonment of a filtration projectled to the pollution of Lake Ontario.The Forum's preliminary Summary Statement recognizesthat, “Despite the link between water security, developmentand poverty alleviation, overall investment in waterresources management has been seriously neglected.According to…estimates, developing and transitionalcountries will require US$180 billion annually in order toproduce global water security over the next 25 years.This will require greater efficiency and better financialmanagement. Several models for combining public,donor and/or private funding have been attempted, andthe results have been mixed. The debate concerningpublic-private partnerships has not been resolved.”2NGLS Roundup 101, May 2003

ParticipationIn many regions, countries and local communities havealready recognized that water is a multistakeholderissue, and that partnerships of all interested and affectedparties are a viable mechanism to translate IWRM intopractice. According to Forum participants, MajorGroups—including business, unions, indigenous people,water journalists, parliamentarians, and youth and children—allhave a point of view and deserve the right tobe heard. Yet large segments of society, especiallywomen and the poor, are not given a voice.The preliminary Summary Forum Statement calls for theempowerment and involvement of local people, localauthorities, the research community, farmers, industry,women and minority groups in the development ofbasin and aquifer strategies, agreements and institutions.It emphasizes the need for stakeholder representativesand local authorities to be given a permanent and officialrole in decision making and implementation, andthe inclusion of community knowledge, practices andrights in water management.Water, Nature and the EnvironmentThe theme of Water, Nature and the Environment, convenedby the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and theUnited Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)through opening and closing plenaries and 17 sessions,discussed a number of issues, including biodiversity andlakes; wetland and river basin management; mountainousareas; oceans and freshwater; ecosystem approachesto water management; environmental flows; and waterand forests.Lake habitat deterioration and invasive species are theleading causes of aquatic species extinction andrequire urgent attention, speakers said. Lakes arethreatened by changes in land use, water diversion,nutrient and toxic pollution, sedimentation and overharvesting(within the watershed). They also facethreats from outside their watersheds including invasivespecies, global climate change, atmospheric depositionand unsustainable trade. “Future extinction rates areestimated to be five times higher for freshwater animalspecies than for terrestrial species,” said Laurie Duker,Conservation Director of the NGO LAKENET, a globalnetwork working on the conservation and sustainablemanagement of lakes.During the discussions, several participants called for considerationof the environmental impacts of increasingwater supply and sanitation on ecosystems and proposeda number of priorities in this regard, including: compensatingthe upstream poor; maintaining environmentalflows; and empowering the poor. Setting environmentalcriteria for financing water projects was also highlighted,as well as the need for interaction and cooperationbetween different water-related conventions and theapplication of ecological economics to valuing water.Water, Food and the EnvironmentThe theme on Water, Food and the Environment—convenedby the Secretariat of the Dialogue on Water,Food and Environment—discussed water needs fornature and food production, including water managementfor agriculture; on-farm assessments of livestockproduction for environmental improvement; managementof water resources and biological production incoastal environments.One of the main issues discussed was the challenge offeeding the world's growing population, especially thepoorest areas, while accomplishing it in an environmentallyacceptable way.The Forum made a number of recommendations onwater and food, including adopting water resourcesmanagement at the river basin level as the guiding principlefor striking the balance between water for foodand water for environmental security; considering theenvironmental, social, economic and political implicationsof using virtual water trade as a strategic instrumentin water and food security policies; elaborating theconcept of environmental flow requirements; and adoptinga target for productive use of water.FloodsConvened by the International Flood Network (IFNet)Preparatory Unit, the issue of floods was the subject ofanother session at the Forum. Worldwide, floods afflicted20 million people between 1973-1977, while 130million were afflicted between 1993-1997. RyosukeKikuchi, Director General of the Water and RiversSecretariat in Japan, opened the session, saying, “Theincrease is due to a combination of two factors. First,the frequency and intensity of floods are increasingdue to global warming. Second, more and more people,mainly the poor, are living in dangerous floodproneurban centres.”Discussion centred on integrated flood management;urban flood risk mitigation; poverty and floods; floodwarning dissemination; and people, floods and vulnerabilityin South Asia. Participants also discussed the roleof international cooperation programmes in reducingflood-related casualties and destruction.Several speakers said that due to the adoption of preventivemeasures, the total numbers of deaths related tofloods have steadily decreased over the past threedecades. However, according to Godwin Obasi,Secretary-General of the World MeteorologicalOrganization (WMO), much more still needs to be done.“With more information, preparedness plans and managementstrategies, we can mitigate the impacts offloods more effectively. In particular, there is a need tobuild capacity in developing countries so they can usethe latest flood forecasting tools, including satellite feedsand computers.”The session's statement calls for integrated flood managementwithin the context of IWRM, and notes that betterplanning and re-direction of investment can mitigate thepoor's vulnerability to water-related hazards.NGLS Roundup 101, May 20033

INDIGENOUS PEOPLEIndigenous delegates expressed demands for rights onwater and land that are their heritage and formulated anIndigenous Peoples' Kyoto Water Declaration. Their declarationcalls for indigenous peoples' right to water andself-determination. Paragraph 9 states: “We IndigenousPeoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue ofthat right we have the right to freely exercise full authorityand control of our natural resources including water.We also refer to our right of permanent sovereignty overour natural resources, including water.”Under the section on Consultation, paragraph 16 of thedeclaration reads: “To recover and retain our connectionto our waters, we have the right to make decisionsabout waters at all levels. Governments, corporationsand intergovernmental organizations must, under internationalhuman rights standards require IndigenousPeoples free prior and informed consent and consultationby cultural appropriate means in all decision-makingactivities and all matters that may have affect. Theseconsultations must be carried out with deep mutualrespect, meaning there must be no fraud, manipulation,and duress nor guarantee that agreement will bereached on the specific project or measure.”The Indigenous Peoples' Kyoto Water Declaration isavailable online ( the more than 100 commitments reached during theForum, the climate theme accounted for more than 20commitments, and gender issues produced 13 commitments.A number of wide-ranging commitments weremade, and a few examples are listed below.n The World Water Council committed to developingand implementing with a number of internationalfinancial institutions, UN agencies, internationalNGOs, and research institutions a programme whichwould aim to identify and highlight the benefitsbrought by sound water management and providegovernments with appropriate tools and analysis sothat they may be considered in priority setting,planning, development, management, and budgetingfor the water sector.n UNDP committed to a Community Water Initiative,aimed at building on the power of the localcommunity to solve water and sanitation challengesand aims to provide communities with small grants toexpand and improve their solutions to the water andsanitation crisis. The Initiative has an estimated targetbudget of US$50 million for 2003-2008.n Through the Indigenous Peoples' Kyoto WaterDeclaration, the indigenous participants of the 3rdWorld Water Forum committed themselves to forminga network on water issues that will strengthen thevoice of indigenous people generally, and helpempower local communities struggling to protecttheir water rights.n The Water and Sanitation Programme (World Bank)committed itself to funding national capacity buildingprojects for MDG monitoring (more information isavailable online: MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE AND FINAL DECLARATIONThe Ministerial Conference, held from 22-23 March, discussedfive themes in sub-groups: safe drinking waterand sanitation; water for food and rural development;water pollution prevention and ecosystem conservation;disaster mitigation and risk management; and waterresources management and benefit sharing.During the segment on safe drinking water and sanitation,many developing countries identified the lack ofcapacity and financial resources as the main obstacles toachieving supply and sanitation goals. Some countriesstressed that water should be prioritized in national budgetsand in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs).Participants also emphasized the need for national wateraction plans and targets, and a greater focus on genderparticipation in water management and decision making.Regarding public private partnerships (PPPs), a numberof delegates highlighted the role of NGOs in capacitybuilding and stressed the importance of confidencebuilding, flexible financing options, and partnershipframeworks.During the other ministerial segments, a number of commonthreads emerged, including the need for legislationensuring transparent decision making; gender-responsivewater management activities; increased financialresources for effective water management in developingcountries; information sharing; and strengthening internationaland local knowledge systems and promotingpublic awareness and communication.On 23 March, the Ministerial Conference adopted aMinisterial Declaration and a Portfolio of Water Actions,a compilation of over 400 actions, submitted by 36countries and 16 international organizations. Mostactions are on water resources management and benefitsharing, and safe drinking water and sanitation.The declaration affirmed that governments are still determinedto meet the Millennium Development Goals. Toachieve them, they “will address water supply and sanitationin urban and rural areas in ways suitable for therespective local conditions and management capacities.”Other significant themes in the declaration are the needfor community-based approaches in managing water,the recognition that cooperation is essential amongcountries that share rivers in order to avoid future conflicts,and that countries must improve the “efficiency ofagriculture water use.”4NGLS Roundup 101, May 2003

Although the declaration acknowledges that “Water is adriving force for sustainable development includingenvironmental integrity, and the eradication of povertyand hunger, indispensable for human health and welfare,”and says prioritizing water issues is an “urgentglobal requirement,” it did not produce a clearly definedprogramme of action, nor did the final text recognize theright to water as a human right.Furthermore, the Ministerial Declaration does not mentionthe need for a global mechanism to monitor theprogress being made to solve water-related problems,particularly the lack of safe drinking water and adequatesanitation. Instead, it says that “Each country has the primaryresponsibility to act.”The role of the private sector in access to a basic goodlike water—including its role in financing water projectsin the developing world, for safe drinking water, irrigationand hydroelectric power, as well as the need tobuild large dams—was debated during both the Forumand the conference. The ministers' resulting declarationcalls for exploring “the full range of financing arrangementsincluding private sector participation in line withour national policies and priorities.” The text states: “allsources of financing, both public and private, nationaland international, must be mobilized and used in themost efficient and effective way.” It adds that it “takesnote” of the report of the World Panel on FinancingWater Infrastructure, which backs greater private sectorinvolvement in water services in the developing worldand calls on governments to reform laws to ensure thewater companies are guaranteed security. (The WorldPanel report is available online: REACTION TO THE FORUM AND MINISTERIAL CONFERENCENGOs at the Forum issued a statement to the MinisterialConference denouncing the efforts underway to privatizewater. They objected to the development modelbeing given legitimacy at the Forum that stresses “thecommodification of water and the renewed push forlarge-scale infrastructure projects that undermine local,participatory, decentralised actions.”A number of NGOs said that the Ministerial Declarationdid not go far enough and avoided reference to controversialissues, such as the construction of large-scaledams. “The public has been badly served by their govern-International Rivers Network and Friends of the Earth Briefing KitThe California-based International Rivers Network (IRN)and Friends of the Earth Japan created a briefing kit entitledDammed Rivers, Damned Lies: What the WaterEstablishment Doesn't Want You to Know for the ThirdWorld Water Forum. The briefing kit includes six sections,including the case against large dams; possible solutionsto the world's water problems; energy options for the 21stcentury, among others.The section entitled A Crisis of Mismanagement points toinefficient irrigation and wrongheaded agricultural policiesthat have encouraged farmers to grow water-intensivecrops in dry areas with subsidized irrigation water ratherthan in locations where rainfall is plentiful as a problemarea. It also calls attention to the fact that in urban areas inmany parts of the world up to 40% of water supplied isbeing lost to leaks or thefts, and says that in 2000Malaysia's Selangor state lost around one billion litres ofwater to theft and leakage each day.The section makes a number of recommendations:n Irrigation: reducing the water consumed byirrigation by 10% could double the amount ofwater available for domestic supply worldwide.Other solutions include converting to waterconservingirrigation systems; switching to lessthirstycrops; taking the poorest lands out ofproduction; and reducing fertilizer and pesticideuse. Installing drip irrigation systems couldpotentially save more than 40% of the amount of waternow used in agriculture.n Urban waste: demand-side management couldsubstantially reduce urban water use at a fraction of thecost of building new infrastructure. Such practices wouldinclude encouraging households to install water-efficientfixtures and appliances, and providing incentives forindustry to reduce water waste. Progressive water pricingsystems can also reduce demand. Upgrading andimproving urban distribution systems is critical to reducethe large amounts of water lost through leaks and theft.Recycling wastewater and urban rainwater harvesting canalso add to urban supplies without the need for newdam-and-pipeline projects.n Small, decentralized and technologically appropriatesolutions are the best options for providing water torural people. Such solutions include rainwaterharvesting and decentralized groundwater recharging.Going against the promotion of private investment as thesolution to the management of water, the text says,“Rather than continuing to push the failed strategy ofwater supply privatization, policy makers should supportviable public utilities. Public water providers have oftenbeen poorly run, have not been accountable and havefailed to address the needs of the poor or the environment.These utilities need to be restructured and madeaccountable—and evidence shows this can be done.There are many well-run public providers. ‘Public-publicpartnerships' can help poorly performing utilities by providingmanagerial and technical assistance from well-runproviders.”Contact: International Rivers Network, 1847 Berkeley Way,Berkeley CA 94703, USA, telephone +1-510/848 1155, fax+1-510/848 1008, e-mail , website( Roundup 101, May 20035

ments at this Forum, who have adopted a MinisterialDeclaration that is a backward step from previous commitments,”said Jamie Pittock, Director of World WildlifeFund's (WWF) Living Waters Programme. “We have toask how credible a Forum like this is when governmentsdo not draw on the 12,000 water specialists gatheredtogether to identify common sense solutions to waterproblems, but instead continue to promote massive infrastructureas the sole solution to the world's water crisis.”Making reference to the findings of the WorldCommission on Dams' global research on the effect ofdams and its guidelines for dam developments, WWFsaid one “glaring” omission in particular will affect millionsof people, fisheries, wildlife and water sources: thefailure by governments to commit to review dam developmentprojects. “The Ministerial Declaration could havebeen a blueprint for averting further human sufferingcaused by inadequate water supply and sanitation,instead it is marked by reticence to put protection ofecosystems first,” said Mr. Pittock.On 24 March 2003, Amnesty International issued a publicstatement expressing “deep disappointment” at the failureof the international community to recognize the humanright to water in the declaration, adding that “Disputesover water must then be resolved in ways that guaranteeaccess, and do not for example, make it conditional onone's relative wealth, social status, or nationality.” Thestatement also states, “Recognizing the right to watermakes it clear that governments have duties to fulfil thatright. Whatever arrangements are put in place regardingprivate sector investment and ownership in deliveringwater, governments cannot sub-contract this responsibility.The rights approach also gives us the opportunity to thinkof scarcity of water in terms of the non-fulfilment of rightsand this could giver added urgency to efforts to addressthis scarcity.”The World Water Forum, organized by the World WaterCouncil, is held every three years in a different country.The 1st World Water Forum was held in Marrakech(Morocco) in 1997, the second Forum was held in TheHague (Netherlands) in 2000. Brazil, Egypt, Mexico andTurkey are the main candidates to host the 4th WorldWater Forum, scheduled to be held in 2006.SOCIAL WATER FORUMThe Social Water Forum, held on the outskirts of SaoPaulo (Brazil) and similar gatherings in Florence (Italy),New Delhi (India), and New York were also held at thesame time as the Third World Water Forum, bringingtogether non-governmental organizations and individualsto discuss the social issues surrounding the globaldebate on managing water.Organized by environmental groups and social movements,the parallel social forums were held to protestthe approach taken by the Kyoto Forum and to defendwater as a human right and a common resource, whosemanagement, they argue, must be under public control.“Today war is being waged over oil, tomorrow it will befor water,” said Leonardo Morelli, organizer of the SocialWater Forum and also the coordinator of the BrazilianShout for Water Movement. Conflicts on a planetaryscale could arise from the fact that the developing Southhas the world's greatest reserves of freshwater, while“those who have the money are in the industrializedNorth,” he warned.As a “patrimony of humanity,” water must not be governedby market forces, but by public systems based onthe concepts of cooperation and solidarity, due to thepossibility of growing shortages caused by pollution andthe wasteful use of water, he argued.The Social Water Forum Statement outlines a number ofguiding principles, including: fighting for transparency,accountability and participatory communitarian managementof the national and international resources forenvironmental projects; promoting the globalization ofscientific knowledge for eco-efficiency on a daily basis,thinking globally and acting locally; and promotingawareness that global equilibrium is related to the consciousnessof human ecology, among others.Contact: Secretariat of the 3rd World Water Forum, 5thFloor, 2-2-4 Kojimachi Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 102-0083,Japan, website ( Water Council, Les Docks de la Joliette, Atrium 10.3,10 Place de la Joliette, 13002 Marseille, France, telephone+33-4/91 99 41 00, fax +33-4/91 99 41 01, e-mail, website ( World Social Forum on Water, LeonardoMorelli, telephone +55-11/5575 6525, e-mail ,or , website( edition of NGLS Roundup was prepared by the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS). The NGLSRoundup is produced for NGOs and others interested in the institutions, policies and activities of the UN system and is not anofficial record. For more information or additional copies write to: NGLS, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10,Switzerland, fax +41-22/917 0432, e-mail or NGLS, Room DC1-1106, United Nations, New York NY10017, USA, fax +1-212/963 8712, e-mail . The text of this NGLS Roundup and other NGLS publications arealso available online (website: on recycled paper6NGLS Roundup 101, May 2003

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