The world community is in Brazil’s beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro at the United Nations Rio+20 Conference to push governments to make commitments to a more sustainable future. The theme is “The Future We Want.” GWP Communications Officer Helene Komlos Grill reports.
The Rio+20 conference is significant for the Global Water Partnership (GWP) since we were created and built up to implement the vision of the sustainable development and management of water resources that was born at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. GWP’s work was further defined and reinforced at Johannesburg in 2002, when national governments committed to develop and implement plans for integrated water resources management (IWRM) and water efficiency, by 2005. GWP Partners have worked hard to support national governments to act upon their commitments.
GWP participates in Rio+20 to add its voice to the water messages that must be heard at the negotiations. Our delegation takes an active part in side events and the Water Dialogue, organized by the Brazilian Government. The conference marks another historic moment in building a more water secure world. Twenty years after the first Rio, the integrated approach to water resources management, which GWP promotes worldwide, is still the solution for which many people advocate.
At the Water Dialogue, strong voices for the “right to water” were heard, but little was said about how it can be achieved. How do you do it? Ensuring water for all entails making trade-offs, balancing the need of various water users and sectors and taking a more holistic approach to our shared and essential resource. The IWRM approach entails multi-stakeholder participation, open platforms for dialogue, and integrating various sectors: no other approach has been as helpful for helping to achieve water security. At the closure of the Water Dialogue, “Assert the importance of integrated water, energy and land-use planning and management at all scales” was acknowledged as one of the most important recommendations on water that the Government of Brazil will communicate to the country delegates at the negotiations.
In addition, the global community’s commitment to the integrated water resources management approach was reaffirmed at the launch of the UN-Water “Status Report on the Application of Integrated Approaches to Water Resources Management”, at which GWP Chair Dr Letitia A Obeng was a panelist. This Status Report, prepared by UNEP in collaboration with UNDP and GWP, is one of the official UN reports to the Rio+20 conference, and is based on a survey of countries carried out in 2011. GWP facilitated the completion of Level 1 and Level 2 surveys through our Regional and Country Water Partnerships. The report shows that since 1992, 80% of the 130 countries participating in the survey have embarked on reforms to improve their enabling environment, based on the application of the IWRM approach. Twenty years after the 1992 Earth Summit, an integrated approach is still the answer to ensuring the sustainable development of a water secure world.