Policy makers pledge commitment to water challenges

Ministers and delegation heads have signed a Ministerial Declaration at the World Water Forum in Marseille, underlining that they are "determined to address water challenges at all scales".

The document reiterates and confirms previous commitments, including Millennium Development Goals, rather than setting new targets. It emphasises the role water has to play in the wider sustainability agenda and the interdependence between water efficiency, energy and food. It says:

“Water has a critical role in all environmental, social and economic systems and should therefore be recognized as such in economic development in conjunction with its social and environmental benefits. In the framework of sustainable development, the contribution of water to policies towards a green economy should be promoted in a manner which leads to achievement of poverty eradication, growth and job creation while preserving ecosystems and tackling climate change.

“A new approach to water, food and energy based on a better understanding and more systematic recognition of their inter-linkages in decision-making and planning has the potential to improve the production and sustainable management of these scarce resources. A more efficient use and reduced waste can improve access to water, food and energy. We intend to enhance policy coherence, adapt existing institutional arrangements and establish frameworks to maximize benefits and synergies across sectors.”

However, the tone of the document, which contains 32 separate clauses, makes it clear that collaboration, integration and ‘trans-boundary’ co-operation is key in addressing the water challenges the world faces. It calls on all stakeholders to work together to address the global issues:

The declaration states: “we expect to foster inclusive partnerships between scientists, policy makers, service providers and other stakeholders, to meet the policy needs and facilitate the science-policy interface, through the provision of state of the art technical tools and methods, the involvement of partners in the formulation of research questions to boost innovation and the dissemination of knowledge and the transfer of technology.”

“Capacity development, based on partnerships between public authorities, international and non-governmental organizations, utilities, private institutions and communities, is required to face the multiple challenges associated with emerging issues.:

Plans proposed to facilitate this include a “helpdesk mechanism to enable exchange of best practices on water laws, regulations, standards and budgets, among and in support of Parliaments”, training solutions for water professionals and consumer engagement initiatives.

The World Water Forum 2012 Ministerial Declaration can be read in full here.

Will Parsons

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