Yesterday began the 6th World Water Forum. The water world meets at this forum every three years and this year it is in Marseille, France. It’s easy to be cynical about these forums especially if you give thought to the water footprint it creates, not to mention how the money might have been used for water projects instead of a water conference.
Of course, the total cost is small compared to how much the world invests in water management and supply and even smaller compared to what the world should spend on financing water.
If the speeches say little that is new, there is something to be said for the one-to-one and group interactions which do lead to partnerships and projects that lead to results. There is a lot of sharing of knowledge and exchange of information which probably would not happen via email or phone calls.
The good news is that the top line speakers are sending the right messages which means that the water world is speaking with one voice. And many of those messages are ones that Global Water Partnership, among others, has been pushing for the last 15 years:
Governance is paramount: money is good (see next point), but good governance (political will, water-smart policies, and strong institutions) is indispensable to managing water in the service of social equity, economic efficiency, and in an environmentally sustainable way.
Money is important: we must increase financing for water resources management, development, and infrastructure if we want to live in a water secure world.
Capacity-building: giving people and institutions the technical knowledge and tools to build capacity to solve problems.
Partnerships: most initiatives and policies will fail without multi-stakeholder involvement among the troika of government, civil society, and the private sector.
The theme of this year’s forum is ‘Time for Solutions.’ Each one of the messages above constitute a solution—not quick-fix solutions but important ones nevertheless if pursued vigorously and for the long-term.
Written by Steven Downey, GWP Head of Communications