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Post-2015 Development Agenda Bulletin
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Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
in collaboration with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
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Volume 208 Number 8 - Monday, 25 March 2013
21-22 march 2013

The High-Level Meeting of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda took place from 21-22 March 2013, in The Hague, the Netherlands. The meeting consisted of the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, also called “Wings for Water,” which took place on 21 March, and the celebration of International World Water Day on the theme of water cooperation, which took place on 22 March. The meetings, hosted by the Netherlands, brought together representatives of governments, international organizations, civil society, religious bodies, the private sector and youth, to discuss the outcomes of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Dutch “Wings for Water” Initiative outcome, the “Wake Up Call on Water.” The high-level segment took place on the afternoon of 22 March with the convening of the High-Level Forum on the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which endorsed the outcomes of the Global Thematic Consultation.

As the final meeting of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water, the High-Level Meeting of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda convened in The Hague to discuss and endorse the outcomes of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water, as presented in the “Advance Summary of the Consultation’s Synthesis Report,” for submission to the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. The Synthesis Report brings together outcomes from “The World We Want” web platform consultations and two meetings, one held in Monrovia, Liberia, and the other in Geneva, Switzerland.

On Thursday 21 March, participants convened for the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Presentation and Discussion of the Results of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water. The day began with a high-level opening session, with keynotes by HRH Willem-Alexander, The Prince of Orange, the Netherlands, and Chair, UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB), and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, Chair, High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (HLP).

Two roundtable sessions took place in the morning and afternoon on water and poverty reduction, equity and sustainability, and on taking action towards inclusive finance for water, sanitation and hygiene, water resources management, and wastewater management and water quality. The day concluded with a presentation on how input from the roundtables would feedback into the Global Thematic Consultation on Water and the presentation of the final “Wake Up Call On Water.”

On Friday 22 March, participants convened for the celebration of World Water Day, including the High-Level Forum on the Global Thematic Consultation on Water. The morning began with an opening session on water cooperation, followed by four thematic breakout sessions on: water cooperation is key to poverty eradication, social equity and gender equity; water cooperation creates economic benefits; water cooperation helps preserve water resources and protect the environment; and water cooperation builds peace. In the afternoon, the high-level segment of the meeting, the High-Level Forum on Global Thematic Consultation on Water convened, discussing how to raise the profile of water cooperation and endorsing the outcome of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water and submitting them to the HLP.

This report summarizes the presentations and discussions held over the two days.


At the High-level Plenary Meeting of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), held in New York in September 2010, governments called for accelerating progress towards achieving the MDGs, and for thinking about ways to advance the UN development agenda beyond 2015. In response, the UN undertook several initiatives aimed at developing a Post-2015 Development Agenda, including: setting up a UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda; launching a High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda; appointing a Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning; and launching national and global thematic consultations.

In addition to the above, other processes that will feed into the Post-2015 discussions include: the work of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG), a 30-member group mandated by the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) to prepare a proposal on sustainable development goals (SDGs) for consideration by the UNGA at its 68th session; regional consultations by the Regional Economic Commissions, which will result in a report on regional perspectives on the Post-2015 Development Agenda; inputs from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, set up by the UN Secretary-General in August 2012 to support global problem solving in ten critical areas of sustainable development; and input from businesses and the private sector through the UN Global Compact.

In order to ensure coherence across these different work streams, an informal senior coordination group of four Assistant Secretary-Generals (ASGs) was established, which includes the ASG for Economic Development at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), ASG for Development Policy at the UN Development Programme (UNDP), ASG for Policy and Programme at UN Women, and the Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning. A “One Secretariat” has also been established to facilitate coordination and coherence across the work streams.

UN System Task Team: The UN System Task Team (UNTT), which includes more than 60 UN entities and agencies, and other international organizations, was set up to assess ongoing efforts within the UN system, consult all relevant stakeholders and define a system-wide vision and roadmap to support the deliberations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. UNTT presented its report, Realizing the Future We Want for All, in June 2012, calling for an integrated policy approach to ensure inclusive economic development, social progress and environmental sustainability, and a development agenda that responds to the public’s aspirations for a world free of want and fear. The report will serve as a reference for broader and inclusive consultations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

UNTT, which is co-chaired by DESA and UNDP, will provide technical support to the OWG. It also aims to support the multi-stakeholder consultations being led by Member States on the Post-2015 Development Agenda by providing analytical inputs, expertise and outreach.

High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda: This Panel was launched by the UN Secretary-General in June 2012. Co-chaired by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, it includes leaders from civil society, the private sector and governments. The Panel, which reports to the UN Secretary-General and is not an intergovernmental process, is expected to publish its report in May 2013, outlining its vision and recommendations on a Post-2015 Development Agenda. This report will feed into the Secretary-General’s report to Member States at the Special Event on the MDGs in September 2013.

Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning: In June 2012, Amina J. Mohammed of Nigeria was appointed as ASG and Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning to coordinate, on behalf of the Secretary-General, the process of developing and building consensus among Member States, UN actors and key external actors. Mohammed also serves as ex-officio member on the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLP), represents the Secretary-General in the Post-2015 debate and advises him on related matters.

National and Global Thematic Consultations: The UN Development Group (UNDG) initiated national and global consultations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda aimed at bringing together a broad range of stakeholders to review progress on the MDGs and discuss options for a new framework. The national consultations are taking place online and offline in more than 60 developing and developed countries, with national stakeholders exchanging information and providing their inputs for a shared global vision of “The Future We Want,” which was also the title of the Rio+20 Outcome.

At the global level, UNDG initiated 11 multi-stakeholder thematic consultations on: inequalities; education; health; governance; conflict and fragility; growth and employment; environmental sustainability; hunger, nutrition and food security; population dynamics; energy; and water.

Each thematic consultation is co-convened by two or more UN agencies with support by governments, working together with representatives from civil society, the private sector and academia. The consultations, which seek online contributions at the “World We Want 2015” website, aim to explore the role each theme could play in a new framework, the different ways in which they can best be addressed, and the linkages among them. A high-level meeting will be held for each thematic area to consider the results and recommendations of the consultations.

In addition, a survey called “MY World” allows citizens to vote online and offline for their development priorities, and acts as the public entry point to the Post-2015 development process.

Global Consultation on Water: As part of the global thematic consultations, the water consultation, facilitated by UN-Water, DESA and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) was launched and further divided into three streams: Water Resources Management (WRM); Wastewater Management and Water Quality (WWMWQ); and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). The WRM consultation addressed five themes: water for energy, energy for water; climate change and water-related risks; water for nature, nature for water; water for food; governing and managing water resources; and water for peace. The five themes around which the WWMWQ sub-consultation was organized were: wastewater in an urbanizing world; impact of wastewater on oceans - nitrogen and phosphorous challenge; wastewater reuse - development, innovation; collecting and treating urban water after use; and economic opportunities in wastewater. The WASH sub-consultation addressed five themes: aspirational objectives of the Joint Monitoring Programme; WASH in schools; WASH and governance - people, power and politics; WASH and environmental sustainability; and WASH and economic development.

Monrovia Consultation: On the margins of the Post-2015 UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons, the Post-2015 Thematic Consultation on Water convened on 29 January 2013, in Monrovia, Liberia. The meeting convened over 50 participants from African governments, development partners, NGOs and civil society to consider the key messages for including water in the post-2015 development agenda. The outcome of the meeting, the Monrovia Declaration, calls for addressing MDG shortfalls, “unfinished business” and neglected issues, including water resources, water quality and hygiene, and water security. Key messages identified in the outcomes include: the post-2015 development agenda for Africa as it relates to water management should be premised on the “Africa Water Vision 2025”; water is essential in the future development framework in order to attain vital economic, health, educational, agriculture/food and energy benefits; water is also a prerequisite for maintaining ecosystems services and supporting resilience to climate change; universal access to sustainable safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in our time is a crucial requirement; making fundamental changes in African water resource management is the basis of water security and sustainable development; wastewater is not wasted water – it is a resource in environmental and economic terms; and we can and we must prevent the polluting impact of wastewater, ensuring its re-use at appropriate quality, and reaping the financial, health and environmental benefits.

Geneva Consultation: The meeting on the Post-2015 Development Agenda Consultation on Water: WRM and WWMWQ convened from 27-28 February 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting brought together over 200 representatives from governments, international organizations, civil society and business to discuss these streams, review the outcomes of the online consultations taking place on the web platform, and debate how issues related to WRM and WWMWQ should be addressed in the post-2015 development agenda. Discussions concentrated on six themes identified during the first day, namely: resilience to climate change and other global pressures; efficiency and reuse; transboundary cooperation; pollution, protection, water quality and ecosystems; balancing uses and allocation; and governance frameworks and integrated water resource management (IWRM). The outcomes of the discussions were forwarded to the High-Level Forum on Water on the Global Thematic Consultation on Water, convening in The Hague, on 21-22 March.




Introducing the session, Moderator Paul Hohnen, Sustainability Strategies, the Netherlands, said the meeting offered an opportunity to sharpen the “water voice” in the post-2015 process, identify gaps in current policy debates and strategize on how to scale up ambition for tackling water challenges. Highlighting the multi-stakeholder nature of the meeting, Co-Moderators Brigitte van Baren, Inner Leadership, the Netherlands and Ama van Dantzig, Dr. Monk, the Netherlands, noted that a variety of discussion formats and multimedia tools would be employed to facilitate balanced and inclusive debate.

In his welcome address, HRH Willem-Alexander, The Prince of Orange, the Netherlands, and UNSGAB Chair, noted that the discussions would feed into World Water Day commemorations on 22 March, on the theme of international water cooperation. He described how his country’s vulnerability to flooding had shaped its unique expertise in water management and governance, which it was ready to share with the world. He stressed that population growth and accelerated climate change make water cooperation a prerequisite to achieving IWRM at sufficient scale.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, and HLP Chair, congratulated HRH Willem-Alexander on his coming accession as King of the Netherlands, noting that his leadership and passion made him “one of the true global water champions.” She noted that the challenge of meeting universal access to water and sanitation is particularly poignant because it is about “the faces of real people with a hope for the future,” underscoring that these are mostly the faces of African women and girls.

Sirleaf lamented that while the MDG water target to halve the proportion of people without access to improved sources of drinking water by 2010 been achieved,, 783 million people still lack access to safe water, and stressed that ensuring universal access to WASH must become a post-2015 development priority. In this regard she welcomed the commitments made by 40 water stakeholders to implement the Monrovia Declaration to the HLP as a step in the right direction.

Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, the Netherlands, described how the water management expertise developed by her country has been applied in other flood-prone countries, most recently in Vietnam, Indonesia, Mozambique and the US. She highlighted three challenges that offer opportunities for strengthening water partnerships as the need: for continuous knowledge sharing and innovation; for IWRM along river basins; and to harness the expertise of water professionals and private companies through public-private partnerships (PPPs). In conclusion, she noted that this was HRH Willem-Alexander’s final international engagement as UNSGAB Chair and thanked him for his contribution to water issues.

Jan Eliasson, UN Deputy Secretary General, via video, noted the challenges that will continue to be faced after 2015 and called for applying the best practices and technologies to ensure that people have “water for life.”

Moderator Hohnen then interviewed Yoka Brandt, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF, Sven Alkalaj, Executive Secretary, United Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and Bert Diphoorn, Director, Human-Settlements Financing Division, UN-Habitat, on the outcomes of the three sub-consultations taking place under the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Brandt said the power of the MDGs is that they have mobilized people around a common set of goals and underscored that these consultations were in the same spirit. On the process, she highlighted that while the MDGs process was top down, this process was bottom up and benefitted from the views of a wide variety of stakeholders, including civil society and youth groups. She noted that although the MDGs focused very heavily on WASH, the thematic post-2015 water consultations cover a much broader set of issues.

Alkalaj noted that during the consultation discussions on the UN’s World We Want web platform were arranged around different weekly themes. Diphoorn said he was very proud of the outcomes of the water consultations, noting the water consultation generated the most number of hits and the highest level of participation in the process of all the 11 thematic consultations.

On the outcomes of the thematic consultations, Brandt presented WASH outcomes noting the strong feeling that universal access should be a goal, in addition to addressing the unfinished business of the MDGs, while ensuring action focuses on equalities and a rights-based approach. Other issues she identified were the importance of WASH beyond households, particularly WASH in schools, hygiene, water safety and sustainability. On WRM, Alkalaj noted that popular themes were water for energy and energy for water, water and food security, nature and water, water and climate change, and water for peace. On WWMWQ, Diphoorn emphasized the emergence of wastewater as a resource and discussions on finance. With Brandt, he called for water stakeholders to continue to be active as the development of SDGs through the OWG continues.

Bernard Wientjes, President, Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers, emphasized that doing business in a socially and environmentally responsible manner is imperative for business success. He noted the large number of specialized water companies in the Netherlands that are ready to deliver sustainable solutions around the world, but stressed that the private sector cannot fill the governance gap in protecting public goods and requires clear “rules of the game” from governments. He cited the Dutch “polder model” as a good example of how to build consensus-based and inclusive governance institutions.

Kitty van der Heijden, Ambassador for Sustainable Development, the Netherlands, called for a greater sense of urgency in water dialogue processes, underscoring that by 2025 half of the world’s population will face water stress. She remarked that participants might want to emulate the Dutch reputation for plain speaking to deliver a true wake up call to the global community.


WATER IN THE POST-2015 AGENDA: WATER AND POVERTY REDUCTION, EQUITY AND SUSTAINABILITY - KEY MESSAGES OF THE GLOBAL THEMATIC CONSULTATION ON WATER: Co-Moderator Hohnen invited participants to discuss cooperation on water and poverty reduction, equity and sustainability in roundtables. He presented a Dutch initiative facilitated by The Broker, an online magazine, which conducted a debate on “Prioritizing Water After 2015” bringing together 45 participants to discuss the role of water in the post-2015 development agenda. The outcomes included a draft “Wake Up Call on Water.” He called on participants to use the draft “Advanced Summary of the Synthesis Report” of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda and draft “Wake Up Call” as the basis for discussions. He said each table would have a Chair and Rapporteur and called for participants to identify issues, review inputs so far, identify what points in the Synthesis Report require sharpening, gaps and how to increase ambition, and identify issues that should be communicated to the HLP. Each roundtable, he said, would identify two or three priority challenges or issues, suggest actions to address them, and submit these via iPad for inclusion in the final “Wake Up Call,” which would be communicated to the HLP.

After lunch, van Dantzig highlighted crosscutting issues and solutions identified during the roundtable discussions. She said discussions focused on addressing the issues of the “bottom billion” whose needs are not being adequately addressed, noting the importance of addressing equality including in access to water.

Among issues identified, she mentioned: implementation and how to get local communities involved; water as a crosscutting issue, noting it is a nexus issue; equality and inequality, and the problem of “water grabbing” by more powerful interests; water as a human right; the need for a bottom-up approach; water as a commodity versus water as a public good; and the role of religious leaders and institutions. On solutions, she noted identification of: monitoring; coherence between policies and approaches; wastewater recycling; an increase in awareness; funding; and leadership.

Maarten Gischler, Deputy Head, Water and Environment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands, said the Dutch “Wake Up Call” initiative submitted an initial draft text to a broad group of stakeholders to serve as a basis for discussions at this meeting saying it is an opportunity to submit a message to the global community on the importance of water. He emphasized that the “Wake Up Call” is in the same spirit as the Summary of the Synthesis Report and Outcome Document of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

During discussions on the outcome of the first roundtable, one participant stressed that the discussion on equity includes the gender dimension and called for strengthening reference to this in the outcome. On key gaps in the two outcome documents, one group highlighted the lack of explicit references to the right to water, while another challenged participants to identify needed “revolutionary changes” in the wake up call.

Another participant emphasized that “water is energy,” noting the importance of cooperative research through the development of centers of excellence. “Tough political choices” were discussed by a participant, who called for referencing the right of each country to grow its own food for subsistence rather than being dependent on trade in virtual water. Others noted inter alia: the role of traditional knowledge and indigenous leaders in managing water resources; the negative impacts of global water trade and war on water; the absence of preserving water quality in many legislative frameworks; and the mindset that collection of water is relegated to women and children and that there is much improvement in how water collection occurs.

Presenting the Water Passport initiative ( Maggie White, Associate Secretary General, International Water Secretariat, noted the objective is to communicate the message that every human being lives on a water basin and shares a common identity with other “basiners.”

TAKING ACTION TOWARDS INCLUSIVE FINANCE FOR WASH, WRM AND WWMWQ – KEY MESSAGES OF THE GLOBAL THEMATIC CONSULTATION ON WATER: In the afternoon, Co-Moderators Hohnen and van Dantzig, introduced the keynote speakers and the second roundtable discussion on inclusive finance for WASH, WRM and WWMWQ, noting it would follow the same procedure as the first roundtable.

Nafisa Barot, Director, Utthan, India, dedicated her address to the memory of Perveen Rahman, a WASH activist working in Karachi’s poorest neighborhoods, who was recently shot dead in Karachi. Noting that her death exemplifies the high stakes in realizing universal access to WASH, Barot reiterated the continuing relevance of the Vision 21 that emerged out of the 2nd World Water Forum in The Hague in 2000. She cautioned that business-as-usual approaches could lead to “the rise of an impatient generation that may see us part of the problem.” In this regard she noted the need to reflect on the question “scaling up for whom?” by putting in place more rigorous metrics based on participatory research to monitor the attainment of WASH targets on women, children and marginalized communities.

Patti Londoño, Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs, Colombia, noted her country’s efforts to secure a more ambitious post-2015 development framework. She stressed that the core issue is not about finding more resources, but identifying and scaling up good practices for increased impact, especially at the local level.  She underscored that Colombia’s initial proposals for a post-2015 development framework recognized the central role that water plays in exploring inter-linkages among the SDGs. She assured participants that their ideas would be included in the final report presented to the UNGA.

From the floor, Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, President, Jacob Soetendorp Institute for Human Values, presented a message from the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, on behalf of religious leaders. He said that religion is “learning again how to be a unifying voice and force,” and reported that religious leaders had met with youth and business representatives ahead of the consultations, demonstrating that it is possible to forge a global partnership “that will enable living water to reach every human being.”

Youth presented their vision of water cooperation, expressing their hope for inclusive, integrated and equitable sharing of water at all levels. 

After roundtable discussions, van Dantzig facilitated discussion of the outcomes. She highlighted crosscutting issues including: decentralized finance to give local communities say in budgeting matters; hybrid financing, looking at finance from different sectors; corporate social responsibility; and on local context, avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach. On new solutions, she identified: payment for ecosystem services; transboundary governance; twin cities; and taxes.

During discussions, one participant from the business community said NGOs and business should combine forces to provide services and create an environment in which these can be scaled up, another highlighted the concept of green GDP. One speaker said a big problem is finding long-term “big capital” rather than small short-term investments to support infrastructure development, while another highlighted capital available in regional development banks, but noted a lack of “bankable projects” that are properly designed in a participatory manner. A participant stressed that it requires persistence to get funding from regional development banks, but underscored it is worth undertaking the rigorous process. One participant called for “smart aid” that accounts for the local context. Another called for ratification for all watercourses conventions, adoption of legislation to implement those conventions, and for financial institutions to channel implementation funding to local communities.

Richard Torkelson, UNSGAB, identified important elements of finance for water calling for the development of local currency markets to finance WASH saying that international finance and PPPs will not ultimately address all WASH issues. He encouraged reducing barriers to activating local currency markets for WASH and developing bankable projects.

Torkelson noted the importance of the development of long-term financing of water projects and called for pooling of small projects at the national level to make them financially viable. He noted the role of reducing political risk, such as through engaging in long-term political agreements, and ensuring coherent legal frameworks in securing financing. He also emphasized engaging finance ministries in WASH.

In additional interventions from the floor, some participants emphasized that the focus should be on effective use of existing resources, not new funding. The role of NGOs in raising awareness about promising business models and best practices on how to support people-centered approaches was highlighted.

Sharing some country experiences, a speaker from Trinidad highlighted her country’s success in securing public-private funding of US$500 million for wastewater management that had inspired neighboring countries to embark on similar initiatives. A representative of a K-Rep Bank, Kenya, noted that the long-term goal was to encourage viable small and medium-sized water enterprises at the local level, and described the experience so far as positive, stressing that the K-Rep business model was enjoying 100% loan recovery.

One youth participant stressed the need for a stronger message on water cooperation in the “Wake Up Call on Water” outcome document. She said the key message from the meeting should be “water water everywhere, only if we share,” the theme of the International Year of Water Cooperation and World Water Day. One speaker challenged water practitioners to quantify the sector’s contribution to economic development, stressing that this is a necessary step in securing additional funding in national budgets.


Cecilia Scharp, UNICEF, highlighted next steps in the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda and informed participants that the outcome document transmitted to the High-Level Forum on 22 March would incorporate their discussions. While welcoming the synergies created among different initiatives, she stressed the need to sharpen the messages in the outcome statement during the Forum. She said the outcome statement would highlight the gaps identified during the discussions, noting these included the need to promote, inter alia: the role of water cooperation in SDGs; the human right to water; the water, food and energy nexus; and the need for sustainable financing mechanisms, especially at the local level. She further noted that these core messages would be conveyed to the fourth HLP meeting, taking place in Bali, Indonesia 25-27 March 2013, and that the overall outcome of the global thematic consultations would be presented to the 68th session of the UNGA. She reminded participants that they are also important stakeholders in ensuring that these messages are included in the post-2015 framework and urged them to remain engaged in the global process.

Presenting the updated “Wake Up Call On Water,” Gischler noted the drafting committee had made a number of changes based on the discussions, highlighting persistent inequalities along gender and poverty lines and the need for a sound evidence base as key issues. He said the updated outcome document would emphasize the cost of inaction and call upon finance ministers to fully account for social and environmental costs in economic calculations.

Youth representatives then presented the text of the “Wake Up Call on Water” to Ambassador Kitty van der Heijden for presentation to the High-Level Forum. In final statements, the youth representatives called for transformative change at the level of individuals and society for the good of the planet and humanity.


The session opened with welcome messages from Co-Moderators Kitty van der Heijden, Dutch Ambassador for Sustainable Development, the Netherlands, and Paul Hohnen, Sustainability Strategies, the Netherlands.

Jozias van Aartsen, Mayor, The Hague, observed that this year’s World Water Day coincides with the first centennial of the Peace Palace in The Hague, which not only symbolizes the role that the Netherlands plays as a center of international law and justice but also helps to draw public attention to the place of water in international diplomacy. He mentioned the upcoming presentation of the results of The Hague Water Peace Dialogues in September 2013 in The Hague, which he said provides a concrete example of the importance of building a dialogue process around mutually trusted knowledge and technologies in order to tackle the water, food and energy nexus.

In a video message, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed that water is essential for the well being of people and the planet. He called on water practitioners to harness the best technologies and share the best practices to get “more crops per drop” and safeguard the human right to water.

Irina Bokova, Director-General, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), emphasized that water is the common denominator in all global development challenges and can also become the common solution if there is sufficient engagement and cooperation among all actors. She noted that water cooperation must take “the widest angle” to effectively manage the many conflicting water interests and needs. This, she said, requires creating new platforms for exchange and research and new forms of governance, which cannot be achieved without building the right capacities. In this regard, she described how the Netherlands-based UNESCO International Institute for Water Education (UNESCO-IHE) and other international initiatives are contributing to training, knowledge exchange and capacity building for effective water management.

Didier Burkhalter, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland, highlighted his country’s role in water diplomacy, noting that water challenges can fuel social tensions and further weaken fragile states and regions. He called for water to be a priority issue in both the post-2015 process and the global security agenda. Supporting calls for a standalone water goal in the post-2015 framework, he stressed that it should be a comprehensive goal that addresses the three pillars of universal access to WASH, WRM and WWMWQ.

Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and UN-Water Chair, thanked all governments and agencies involved in coordinating the global thematic dialogues. He described the process as a practical illustration of international water cooperation in the context of the post-2015 process, noting it had also tested the capacity of the water community to work together towards agreed goals and targets.

He highlighted key messages emerging from the thematic consultation on water as, inter alia: the need for ambitious new targets to build on MDG successes and also address the significant “unfinished business”; the importance of addressing universal access to WASH through the right mix of technologies and governance approaches; the need to build strong legal frameworks for transboundary water management; and additional targets to tackle WWMWQ.

Jarraud then introduced the third edition of the “Water for Life” UN-Water Best Practices Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to sustainable management of water resources and achievement of internationally agreed goals and targets. Ambassador Dámaso De Lario, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Spain, presented the award for “best water management practices” to Kumamoto City, Japan, for its basin-wide groundwater management system. Jarraud presented the award for “best participatory, communication, awareness-raising and education practices” to the Cultural Youth Association of Ormax, Moldova, for building effective partnerships in the Safe Water and Sanitation for All initiative.

Van der Heijden presented the “Wake Up Call on Water” saying it recognizes the need to reduce inequalities, achieve the unfinished business of the MDGs on water, the human right to water and sanitation. She outlined the need for massive investment, addressing tough political choices, better water governance, better policies and stronger institutions, innovation to achieve “more crop per drop” and a fundamental change in mindset to reduce water footprints. She called for political leadership and for administrators, politicians, financiers, the private sector and citizens to “wake-up” to address water challenges.

Youth from the “Wings for Water” Youth Programme then called for mobilizing youth to address today’s challenges.


Van der Heijden introduced HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal, Jordan. HRH El Hassen bin Talal highlighted water challenges including the projected increase in the water intensity of energy, calling for addressing the inter-linkages between water and other sectors, such as energy and agriculture. He said water stress could only truly be defused if these intersections are addressed. He said the key goal of any region should be guaranteeing access to water for the end user and called for ensuring marginalized communities also benefit from large-scale investment projects.

The meeting then split into four breakout-groups on water cooperation: water cooperation is key to poverty eradication, social equity and general equality; water cooperation creates economic benefits; water cooperation helps preserve resources and protect the environment; and water cooperation builds peace. Participants were asked in small groups to discuss key challenges to water cooperation, key solutions to those challenges and present one concrete action. Each small group then presented their challenges, solutions and actions to the breakout group. 

PLENARY WRAP-UP: Van der Heijden opened the session on breakout group outcomes and Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), briefly noted that the 2013 Stockholm World Water Week would focus on water cooperation, including between actors from different sectors, between stakeholder groups, across traditional management to integrate approaches, between jurisdictions and between scientists and end users.

On the theme “water cooperation builds peace,” Lena Salame, UNESCO, identified the main challenge as misunderstanding. She reported the solution proposed is joint capacity building and that the group chose the symbolic action of rehabilitating the Ganges and Jordan Rivers, as they are holy to half of humanity.

On the theme “water cooperation creates economic benefits,” Josefina Maestu, Coordinator, UN-Water Decade Programme of Advocacy and Communication, said the challenge was tension between generations, since investment must be made now to improve future conditions and that the solution is understanding each others needs to overcome barriers to trust. She said the action identified by the group is investment in joint fact finding and evaluation of benefits.

On the theme “water cooperation helps preserve water resources and protect the environment,” Ania Grobicki, Executive Secretary, Global Water Partnership, said the challenge is ensuring that the water cycle delivers ecosystems services to meet people’s needs, and reducing risks. She identified the solution as inter alia: developing a shared benefits approach at the basin scale; integrating ecosystem services into planning; and building decentralized governance structures.

On “water cooperation is key to poverty eradication, social equity, and gender equality,” Chris Williams, Executive Director, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, underscored that the challenge is that business as usual will not work and equity will not just happen by itself. He said the solutions are unity of vision and purpose, and effective management. He said the actions identified were creation of partnerships and strengthening existing ones to unleash human potential.

A short film, titled “Water-Footprint” by Robert Oey, was then showed and Van der Heijden introduced keynote speaker HRH Willem-Alexander, The Prince of Orange, and UNSGAB Chair.

HRH Willem-Alexander reflected the highlights of his work championing water and sanitation issues beginning at The Hague World Water Forum in 2000. He identified the 2008 International Year of Sanitation as the pinnacle of his work with UNSGAB. He underscored that sanitation should not be taboo, but an issue central to discussions on human development, recalling the thousands of personal encounters he had while visiting field sites, which demonstrated the impacts that adequate sanitation can have on people’s lives. On progress since 2000, while lauding that one billion additional people now have access drinking water, he noted that population has also increased by one billion, that progress has been unevenly spread, and that access to drinking water does not guarantee its safety. He underscored that two billion people have access to drinking water of doubtful quality. While emphasizing that 950 million people have improved sanitation, he said that 2.5 billion remain without and that we are far from the original MDG target to halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. He welcomed the extension of UNSGAB through 2015, saying it will continue work on three priorities: universal access; wastewater revolution; and wise and efficient use of water through IWRM. Bidding UNSGAB farewell, he recalled that on this World Water Day 7500 people, mostly children, will die because of lack of access to water, that millions of people, mostly girls, will walk miles for water, and that one aquatic species will disappear.


Co-Moderator Bai-Mass Taal, Executive Secretary, African Ministers’ Council on Water, began by inviting panelists to give their views on whether the outcome statement of the global thematic consultation on water had captured the most pressing priorities.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, and HLP Co-Chair, said the document stresses that water is “a development imperative, an economic necessity and a demand for equity.” Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General WMO, and UN-Water Chair, said water is one of the ultimate crosscutting issues and cannot be effectively addressed without cooperation. He expressed pride at what the consultation had achieved, singling out cooperation with UNSGAB as an important contributor to this success.

HRH El Hassan bin Talal stressed that the nexus of water, energy and the human and physical environment needs to be addressed at the supra-national level. He said the starting point in this is building shared knowledge, institutions and accountability and emphasized that the political economy of refugees must be part and parcel of this process. Noting that the region accounts for 70% of all refugees globally, he stressed that water security can only be achieved “if you take human beings seriously.”

HRH Willem-Alexander noted that “MDGs 1.0” were unique instruments that served their goal but the new set of global targets must deliver on new priorities. He said the “new wording” should underscore that quality, affordability, sustainability and access are the new global issues.

Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever, and HLP Member, said trust and partnerships are critical for addressing water challenges and the inclusive and multi-stakeholder nature of the post-2015 dialogue process has made an important contribution. While welcoming the outcome document, he called for greater attention to remaining gaps in achieving the WASH targets, noting “we still have a job to do in the last 1000 days.”

Francisco Pereira, Vice Minister of Public Works, Mozambique, highlighted the unique challenges faced by his country, which is downstream of nine transboundary water basins. He stressed that the frequent floods that result can only be addressed through cooperation with neighboring countries.

Betty Maina, CEO, Kenya Association of Manufacturers, and HLP Member, described the conclusions in the outcome document as “compelling” but stressed that addressing the identified challenges will require even more cooperation. She underscored the centrality of business in water solutions and management.

Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO, said the document highlights the critical role of knowledge, science and education. She called for greater emphasis of the interdependence between development goals, noting the next World Water Development Report will focus on the energy and water security nexus.

Co-Moderator András Szöllösi-Nagy, Rector, UNESCO-IHE, remarked that a key strength of the outcome document was its holistic approach to water issues, beyond access to WASH and invited the panel to reflect on how water cooperation can help solve governance issues.

HRH Willem-Alexander said governance should always be carried out at the lowest possible level. Noting that water is also a quantity issue, he stressed the need to address rising demand, especially from population growth. With regard to how best to approach nexus issues at the global level, he added that the reality is that “cross-cutting issues get buried” and stressed the need for a standalone WASH goal to maintain ownership among all stakeholders.

With regard to the transition phase towards the post-2015 framework, he stressed there is still time to make progress on the unmet targets and the SDG process should avoid diverting the momentum on the ground. He suggested that the post-2015 development agenda should be viewed as the “new MDGs” with the SDGs as a transitory process in this.

HRH El Hassan bin Talal emphasized that the concept of water security can help to reconnect the sustainability discourse with the values of human dignity. He called for the creation of an “authentic voice” for the West Asia region to advance “lateral thinking” on the energy and water nexus.

Observing that only 19 African countries are likely to achieve the MDGs, President Johnson Sirleaf said the lack of access to clean water and sanitation is “serious African business.” She stressed that access to WASH is an important component of human dignity that needs to be underscored in the post-2015 development agenda. She called on Africa “to use its resources well” and for international solidarity through technology transfer, knowledge sharing, and innovative funding and cooperation mechanisms, such as WASH compacts and sector investment plans.

Polman stressed that mobilizing private sector engagement in the water agenda is more likely to occur if there is a clear prioritization of targets. Describing the political process after September as “our biggest fear” he called for greater ambition in articulating the cost of inaction. He also noted that the private sector “has a longer outlook than many governments,” and should be part of structural solutions.

In general discussions, Rabbi Soetendorp, the Netherlands, said he identified with people who depend on cooperation for survival and described HRH El Hassan bin Talal’s call for a focus on human dignity as “a wonderful encompassing statement.” He called on the international community to “internalize this statement into the urgency of a baby who wants to live – so it will be the breath that is saved and the future that is born.”

Following requests by several speakers for more concrete ideas on how to translate “words” into real actions connecting water, human security and sustainable development, panelists underscored, inter alia: focusing on a few clear targets; investing in the structures of dialogue and cooperation; and awareness raising, especially at the local level.

On how to incorporate climate adaptation strategies, Jarraud said climate change exacerbates the complexity of water issues, especially through its impacts on the hydrological cycle in areas of high water stress, as well as increased incidence of floods. Stressing that traditional knowledge cannot cope with these changes, he called for an emphasis on new knowledge systems to provide better information to all, including farmers, pastoralists and local communities.

He further noted that water is one domain where perfection is the enemy of the good and called for a focus on a few key priorities in the post-2015 development framework. Citing the recently concluded High-Level Meeting on National Drought Policy, in Geneva, Switzerland, which he said had come up with a more ambitious outcome document than earlier drafts, he challenged the water community to be more ambitious. He added that the focus of the meeting on human rights and human dignity “helped to strengthen our ambition.”

Wrapping up, Szöllösi-Nagy stressed the main ideas highlighted by the panel were: the time of easy water is over and we need ambitious new targets that look at water at the center of complex nexuses; water is a very unique medium as it connects neighbors, generations, ecosystems and processes; risk is global but water solutions are local; and “if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” He said the thematic consultation was extremely useful as it brought in a lot of new elements in the debate, all of which underscored the need for a comprehensive SDG on water. The High-Level Forum then endorsed the document for forwarding to the HLP and OWG.

In closing remarks, Bokova reiterated that 2015 is still ahead and called for accelerating efforts to achieve the MDGs, sharing good practices and “aiming high.”

A live link-up was then established with the UNGA Interactive Dialogue taking place at UN Headquarters in New York to allow for panelists in The Hague to present the outcomes of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda to the UNGA. Bokova described the conversation about water cooperation, noting consensus on the need to actively achieve the MDG targets in the time remaining and the important place of WASH in the next set of development goals. She highlighted one solution identified is capacity building and acknowledged the complexity of water challenges, noting that water cooperation is an imperative at this point.

Jarraud presented the outcomes of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water saying it involved the UN systems as well as all stakeholders who desired to participate through social media. While noting the large scale of participation, he said that despite the diversity of stakeholders consensus was easier to achieve than expected, particularly with regard to the central role of water in sustainable development and the need to achieve the unfinished business of the MDGs. He assured the UNGA that they will bring the message of the outcome to all relevant fora and noted the commitment of all UN agencies under UN-Water to achieving the best possible outcome in the post-2015 process.

KEY OUTCOMES AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE THEMATIC CONSULTATION ON WATER IN THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: The High-Level Forum recognized and endorsed the outcomes and recommendations of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Agenda as presented in the “Advance Summary of the Consultation’s Synthesis Report.” The conclusions based on stakeholder contributions to the process include that:

  • water is a key determinant of all aspects of development and must therefore be a central focus of any post-2015 framework;
  • WASH, WRM and WWMWQ are all indispensible elements for building a water-secure world;
  • if water issues are not addressed adequately in the post-2015 development agenda this would not only mean a water crisis, but several other crises in water-dependent sectors;
  • governments play a key role in securing water for competing demands, however the quest for a water-secure world is a joint responsibility and can only be achieved through water cooperation at the local, national, regional and global level and through partnerships with a multitude of stakeholders ranging from citizens to policy makers to the private sector; and
  • building water-related capacity development, both at the individual and institutional levels, will be fundamental in the realization and implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.

On key recommendations for WASH, the outcomes identify, inter alia:

  • universal access to safe and sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene should be the next global target for WASH;
  • hygiene access should be addressed, including hand washing and menstrual hygiene management, which are critical determinants of public health and gender equity;
  • access to WASH services should be secured beyond households to include other settings, particularly schools, health facilities and other public institutions;
  • increased investments in WASH are needed to bring about multiple social and developmental benefits and create incentives for more sectors to work together in an integrated manner; and
  • sustainability of WASH services must be at the heart of any new agenda.

On key recommendations for WRM, the outcomes include:

  • an integrated approach to WRM must be implemented and water governance systems improved;
  • water must be used in ways that are socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial by using water efficiently and balancing needs;
  • economically viable measures for the protection and sustainable management of water resources should be included in adaptation, mitigation and resilience strategies at all levels;
  • establishment of strong and long-term transboundary cooperation, relying on sound legal and institutional arrangements, such as joint basin governing institutions; and
  • water-related ecosystems need to be valued and protected to draw economic benefits, as the return on investment is high.
  • On key recommendations for WWMWQ, the outcomes include:
  • to protect water quality, targets to prevent polluting substances entering water bodies need to be devised and implemented;
  • to protect both people and nature from the pollution, used water and wastewater must be collected and treated before it is returned to nature; and
  • wastewater needs to be considered as a resource and therefore policies, investments and practices for reuse and recycling of water need to be implemented.


Van der Heijden introduced Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, the Netherlands. Ploumen noted progress on the MDGs while saying a world of sustainable water management is still a long way off. She highlighted water challenges, noting their complexity and transboundary nature, and called for addressing water challenges in a different manner. Saying a top-down approach is insufficient, she called for an integrated approach involving stakeholders including local communities. She underscored the Netherlands’ long history of water management and commitment to helping others around the world to reduce water-related disaster risk, and promote systematic and integrated approaches to water management, highlighting a project in Bangladesh to support the development of a Delta Management Plan. She also called for a focus on transboundary water management and the equitable distribution of water across sectors.

Ploumen then presented the endorsed outcome of the Global Thematic Consultation on Water in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, to President Johnson Sirleaf, Enikö Györi, Minister of State for EU Affairs, Hungary, and Rahmat Bobokalonov, Minister of Land Reclamation and Water Resources, Tajikistan, who will carry this outcome to other major fora, including the HLP and OWG meetings, the Dushanbe Water Conference and the Budapest Water Summit.

Györi invited participants to continue discussions on the outcomes at the Budapest Water Summit, taking place in October 2013, identifying it as the last meeting on water in the post-2015 development agenda in 2013 and the last chance to influence the outcomes of the OWG on water.

Sjef Ernes, Managing Director, Aqua for All, launched “Walking for Water International” with Youth who participated in the Walk for Water earlier in the day, walking 6 kilometers with 6 litres of water in backpacks. He noted participants in 22 countries raised EUR1.29 million, throughout the day, to address access to water. Youth then challenged delegates “don’t just talk, take a walk.”

Van der Heijden closed the meeting at 4:16pm.


Fourth Meeting Of The High-Level Panel Of Eminent Persons On The Post-2015 Development Agenda: The fourth meeting of the HLP, hosted by the Government of Indonesia, will convene in Bali, Indonesia, from 25-27 March 2013. The focus will be on “Partnership and Cooperation for Development.”  date: 25-27 March 2013  location: Bali, Indonesia  www:

High-Level Consultation on Food and Nutrition: As part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda Global Thematic Consultations, this High-Level Leadership Meeting will bring together Member States, non-governmental organizations and civil society to discuss and agree on an agenda on food and nutrition for the Post-2015 Development Framework in Madrid, Spain in early April 2013. This consultation is co-led by FAO and WFP, and co-hosted by the Governments of Spain and Colombia.  date: 4 April 2013  location: Madrid, Spain  www:

High-level Meeting on Energy and the Post-2015 Development Agenda: This High-level Leadership Meeting is part of the Global Thematic Consultation on Energy. Participants will consider the results of the online consultations and their recommendations. The meeting is expected to develop an “Oslo Declaration” on key energy recommendations and potential global energy objectives, with the aim of informing and shaping the post-2015 development agenda on energy issues. Participants will also discuss processes for engaging with key national, regional and global stakeholders on energy. The meeting will be organized by UN-Energy and the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Initiative, the co-leaders of the Consultation, in partnership with the Governments of Mexico and Norway.  date: 9 April 2013  location: Oslo, Norway  www:

Second Session of Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals: The second session of the UNGA Open Working Group on SDGs is tentatively scheduled to take place in April 2013.  dates: 18-19 April 2013 (to be confirmed)  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development  phone: +1-212-963-8102  fax: +1-212-963-4260  email:  www:

UNGA Special Event on the MDGs: This special event will follow-up on efforts made towards achieving the MDGs. It is likely to include an opening and a closing plenary meeting, and up to four high-level interactive multi-stakeholder roundtable sessions which will focus in particular on accelerating implementation of the MDGs as well as looking forward to the post-2015 framework.  date: 25 September 2013 (tentative)  location: New York  www:

2013 Budapest Water Summit: The Budapest Water Summit will take place sometime in October 2013 in the context of the International Year of Water Cooperation, and will seek to contribute to the elaboration of water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to discuss solutions to water-related challenges. It will convene under the theme “The Role of Water and Sanitation in the Global Sustainable Development Agenda.” The Summit is organized by the Government of Hungary in cooperation with the United Nations systems and the World Water Council.  dates: 8-11 October 2013 [tentative]  location: Budapest, Hungary  contact: Budapest Water Summit Secretariat  e-mail:  www:


High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda
Integrated water resources management
Millennium Development Goals
UNGA Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals
Public-private partnerships
Sustainable development goals
UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNESCO International Institute for Water Education
UN General Assembly
UN Children’s Fund
UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation
Water, sanitation and hygiene
Wastewater management and water quality
Water resources management
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The Post-2015 Development Agenda Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <>. This issue was written and edited by Wangu Mwangi and Anna Schulz. The Digital Editor is Mike Muzurakis. The Editor is Liz Willetts <>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (in HTML and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, New York 10022, USA.
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