In this edition we continue giving account to the conclusions of the meetings that have taken place in several parts of the world, comprising part of the preparatory process. This information will serve as input for the Regional Committees and Beacons in the preparation of the thematic documents and regional positions that will be presented during the Forum.
The Plata Basin Dialogue
This event, organized by the Itaipú Binacional Company, the International Green Cross civil organization and the Coordinating Inter-Governmental Committee of the Plata Basin countries (CIC), with the support of the Secretariat of the 4th World Water Forum, hosted interest groups from the five nations that comprise the Plata River Basin —Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay— this past November 23, 2005, in the city of Foz de Iguazú, Brazil.
During his intervention at that meeting, the General Secretariat of the 4th World Water Forum, Cesar Herrera, indicated that “the Plata River Basin is an experience that should be known by the world water community in the framework of the 4th Forum, as an example of a collective effort in the Integrated Management of Water Resources in a trans-border basin that contributes to the integration of the South American Common Market (Mercosur).
Several local initiatives from this basin will be presented during the 4th World Water Forum, in March 2006 in Mexico, such as the “Agua Buena” community and environmental project, developed by Binacional Itaipú, as well as the Guaraní Aquifer experience.
NGO Workshops in San Salvador, Buenos Aires and Mexico City
During the November preparatory meetings on the American continent, the participating civil organizations agreed to jointly present local actions and positions in the Americas regional document, as well as at the thematic sessions and the call to action addressed to the Ministers. Around 120 organizations and networks from Latin America and the United States participated in these events.
These organizations have participated in previous preparatory meetings, specifically in the meetings organized by the Water Consultation Council, the Coordinator of the Central American Network for Water Action (FANCA), the CLAEH-Argentina and by IPANEMA-Brazil for the American continent, during the month of November in Buenos Aires, San Salvador and Mexico City. These hosting cities were chosen in order to include Northern, Central and South America.
In an interview, Jorge Mora Portuguéz, Regional Coordinator of the Central American Network for Water Action (FANCA), commented on the preparatory work made by civil organizations for the 4th Forum: “The relationship between FANCA and the preparatory process was born in Kyoto, when we saw the need of having a larger presence of social organizations and other Latin American local actors, than the one we had at Kyoto or the Johannesburg World Summit. We decided to become involved and to contact the people we knew were in the organization process of the world forums, and then we contacted the Secretariat of the Forum and expressed the need to include components from the civil society in the organizational process. That’s when the regional committees were born, specifically the Operative Committee of the Americas. We wish to contribute by generating a link between civil society and the Americas organization committee.
Afterwards, in order to foster representation of the three regions, other South American organizations were included, like the NGO Brazilian Forum and the Latin American Center for Civil Studies from Buenos Aires, as well as FAN Mexico, just recently created”.
According to Portuguéz, it is very important that, for the first time, these social organizations participated in a preparatory process for a World Water Forum, since several common goals have been achieved on a number of subjects, such as: water as a human right that is compatible with the principle that recognizes the economic value of water; the need for incorporating citizen participation in the decision-making processes regarding water management; and finally, the concern on the participation of free enterprise in drinking water supply services and their social and environmental impact.
Regarding the participation that social organizations had during these meetings, he said that “the Secretariat has an area focused on civil society, coordinated by Alejandra Ghigliazza, who is trying to establish a link with the NGO interest groups that FAN International is coordinating, although limited to open spaces to civil society participation directed to guaranteeing their presence at the World Water Forum, and not to develop a previous process like the one we are involved in. I believe this can serve as a model for future World Water Fora and other international events, on how to articulate with the civil society, but I believe that for this Forum the spaces of participation for civil society are limited. Still, I believe that this Forum includes important differences regarding previous Fora, because I do perceive an important effort in generating new spaces, although unfortunately too late. Still, there they are and that’s what’s important”.
In the three regional events, a great diversity of organizations participated, such as South American research centers formed by sociologists, social workers, and even Indians from Chile, Bolivia and Peru. From Central America a number of peasant organizations and local groups have participated, and here in Mexico we’ve seen a wide gamut that will enrich the 4th World Water Forum.
The 21st World Water Congress by the International Water Resources Association (IWRA)
This event took place in New Delhi, India, from November 22 to 25, with the participation of around one thousand experts from 50 countries. During the Congress, the Secretariat of the 4th World Water Forum informed about the development of the preparatory process in different parts of the world, as well as regarding other activities that have taken place, so that more people understand the global challenges posed by water, inviting them to participate with proposals for local actions and solutions.
During the inauguration event —attended by 12 Ministers and Viceministers from several countries of Asia, Africa and the Middle East— Aly Shady, president of the IWRA, stated that different national and international organizations, as well as governments, NGO’s, civil society and the water community, will be present during the 4th World Water Forum, in order to share and debate on local experiences to confront the most urgent challenges in different parts of the world.
The 21st World Congress of the IWRA was also the framework for making proposals to the 4th World Water Forum. Among the themes discussed during these sessions were: the prevention of conflicts derived from the inadequate management of water; water governance; the global future of water; dams and water transfer; development of water infrastructure; Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and the application of science and technology; the management of water-related meteorological risks, etc.
On November 24, a special session took place specifically organized to promote the 4th Forum, attended by the IWRA’s Aly Shady; the WWC’s Ben Braga; Taeko Yokota, in charge of the preparatory process in the region of Asia; Torkil Jonch-Clausen, beacon for the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) framework theme; and Alvaro Aldama, general director of the Mexican Institute for Water Technology (IMTA), and leader of the cross-cutting issue on Application of Science, Technology and Knowledge. During this session, advances in the preparatory process were presented.
Conclusion of the Regional Process in Africa
On December 8 and 9, a meeting of the Africa Regional Directive Committee for the 4th World Water Forum took place in Windhoek, Namibia. Government Ministers, top functionaries of regional water management institutions, water experts and groups of interest from several African countries participated. The purpose of the meeting was to conclude the Africa Regional Report, and the contribution of this continent to the Ministerial Declaration that will be sent to the dialogue table during the 4th World Water Forum. The African Ministers met and spoke with a single voice, and the meeting included, for the first time, technical experts and political leaders in an effort to face questions related to the supply of water and sanitation.
Access to water and sanitation in Africa is the lowest in the world. Currently, around 300 million human beings from Africa lack access to drinking water, and 313 million lack sanitation services. To fight poverty and hunger in Africa, an annual investment of over 4.7 billion dollars is needed. The Africa Regional Report identifies problems and challenges regarding the availability of water, and establishes a commitment to reach full access to water and sanitation services by the year 2025. The Africa Regional Directive Committee was in charge of drafting the document with which Africa will contribute to the Ministerial Declaration, and it expresses the challenges that must be faced by African nations in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in regard to water and sanitation:
• Increase efforts to decentralize services of water supply and sanitation to appropriate managerial levels, and generate a transparent and efficient government at all levels of
• Prioritize sanitation, including extensive and intensive health services, hygiene and education at the community level.
• Invest in the development of equal opportunity institutional, technical and directive capabilities at all levels of the professional ladder, from artisans to planners and designers.
For more information, see the Forum’s European Process website at: www.wwf4.europe.org