Wednesday, August 22, 2007

SIWI-World Water Week Report

World Water Week/Stockholm
A comprehensive and thorough report of the events from each day of the conference.

Strong Messages As 2007 World Water Week Ends

It is Time to Do Better on Global Poverty, Sanitation, Water Scarcity and Climate Change

Stockholm, Sweden — A 2007 World Water Week in Stockholm that began with a call for governments around the world to better manage their existing water resources concluded Friday morning with the 2,500 participants from 140 countries saying, collectively that progress is being made, but in the face of global poverty, critical lack of sanitation, water scarcity and climate change, we all need to do much better. The date, theme and location for the 2008 event was also announced: “Progress and Prospects on Water: For a Clean and Healthy World,” to be held August 17-23, 2008, at the Stockholm International Fairs centre.

Anders Berntell, Executive Director of the host Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), while assessing at the end of the event the efforts to improve the world water situation, said: “There is progress, but there is still far too little action and now when climate change is upon us and we need to adapt even faster. None of us can say we are prepared but it’s clear that poor people will again suffer the most. Changes in water availability are what will hit us first with an altered climate; rising sea levels and floods in certain regions but drought in others. The pressure on infrastructure and physical planning will be considerable. Ecosystem management will be fundamental. The question remains relevant: Why is water still not high enough on the political agenda?”

Climate, sanitation and hygiene, water management, ecosystems and biodiversity, technology and business issues were prominent programme focal points throughout the week. SIWI itself called for governments around the world to better manage how they use their existing water resources, taking necessary and sometimes painful measures to decrease losses in water delivery infrastructure and irrigation, to cut subsidies to agriculture, and to put in place realistic water-pricing measures – all before attempting to boost water supplies. The World Water Week, which included 140 co-convening organisations, witnessed the launch of a number of new and groundbreaking studies, reports and initiatives designed to improve a global situation where billions of people are without sustainable access to safe drinking water or suffering ill health due to poor sanitation, where bioenergy demands are diverting water from food production, and where global climate change is affecting the overall water balance.

Studies, reports and initiatives and announcements to be made during the week include:

UN-HABITAT, the United Nations agency working with human settlements, launched the 1) Global Water Operators’ Partnership and the 2) Water and Sanitation Trust Fund.

SIWI and the Swedish Water House launched four new reports: Making Anti-Corruption Approaches Work for the Poor; On the Verge of a New Water Scarcity; Agriculture, Water, and Ecosystems; and Planning for Drinking Water and Sanitation in Peri-Urban Areas.

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) launched the Global Water Tool.

The Water Supply and Sanitation Council (WSSCC) and SIWI announced the opening of the nomination period for the WASH Media Award.

British charity WaterAid launched Global Cause and Effect: How the Aid System is Undermining the Millennium Development Goals.

The Global Water Partnership announced 1) Letitia A. Obeng as the new Chair of GWP and 2) released the policy brief Climate Change Adaptation and Water Management, and 3) the book Sustainable Sanitation in Eastern and Central Europe.

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida, released a position paper named Natural Resource Tenure.

The Asian Development Bank released Dignity, Disease and Dollars: Asia’s Urgent Sanitation Challenge.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) South Africa presented new technology for removing heavy metals and subsequent radioactivity from mines.

The Co-operative Programme on Water and Climate (CPWC) released Water, Climate, Risk and Adaptation, and presented its new resource centre on water, climate, risk, adaptation and mitigation.

The World Water Council (WWC), the General Directorate State Hydraulic Works for Turkey (DSI) and the Secretariat of the 5th World Water Forum released the First Announcement of the 5th Forum, to be held in 2009.

Borealis and Bororouge became a Founder of the Stockholm Water Prize.

The International Institute for Environment and Development issued two briefing papers that summarise new research on payments for watershed services in developing nations.

The International Foundation for Science released Strengthening Capacity for Water Resources Research in Countries with Vulnerable Scientific Infrastructure.
The Government of Singapore and the World Health Organisation (WHO) signed a new partnership agreement to jointly promote the safe management of drinking water globally.

The Water Environment Federation and the International Water Association introduced the revamped World Water Monitoring Day initiative and provide kits to Stockholm Junior Water Prize participants.

The International Water & Film Events Istanbul 2009 issued the official call for entries.

The Water Integrity Network launched new website to fight corruption in the water sector.

The closing session on August 17 looked eastward to China, where the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics and China’s increasing emergence as the world largest developing economy were in focus. Chinese Vice Minister of Water Resources, Zhou Ying, presenting China’s contributions to the conference’s theme, Striving for Sustainability in a Changing World, stating: “China remains the face of industrialisation. Shortage of resources is a bottleneck for development, so we will work to harmonize resource saving, clean production, and integrate water management into our sustainable social and economic development.”

In the week that preceded the closing session, a number of interesting topics were taken up in seminars, workshops and side events. These and all other events will be summarised in the Synthesis Report to be made available in the late Fall of 2007.

SOURCE: The World Water Week
Per this conference and this report our choice as human beings is clear: if we do not move now to conserve this precious resource and stop polluting our waterways and freshwater supplies, we will embark upon an era of water scarcity not yet seen in our world. Poverty, population increases, waste, political indifference, corruption, mismanagement, privatization, climate change, and using water and other resources for biofuels such as ethanol over sustaining our people and other species will cause us to move backward instead of forward.

And while this conference brought out many reports that bring these stark facts to our consciousness, the implementation of sound and economical steps to ensure that water is available to all who need it is our constant challenge. Another challenge for us is to make this crisis a part of the global political and moral dialogue as it does not get nearly the amount of attention it deserves as the foremost environmental challenge we will face in the 21st Century.

There is no more important charge that we have as human beings than to preserve our planet and to work to see a day when all children in our world regardless of location or circumstance never have to go a day thirsty, hungry, or in need of this life giving resource that replenishes their bodies and souls. This is my mission in life, for water to me is a miracle that we can no longer take for granted.


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