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Volume 82 Number 18 - Thursday, 19 March 2009
The 5th World Water Forum continued on Wednesday, 18 March in Istanbul, Turkey. Participants attended regional presentations on Africa and the sub-region “In and Around Turkey.” Parliamentarians met throughout the day to prepare their output as part of the political process. Participants also attended thematic sessions and side events, while the Water Fair and Expo continued at the Forum’s two venues.


IN AND AROUND TURKEY: Haydar Koçaker, Director General of Turkey’s State Hydraulic Works, said preparation for the sub-regional process included 22 preparatory sessions based on full stakeholder consultation.

Loïc Fauchon, WWC President, lauded the Turkish government for the high quality of the 5th World Water Forum, highlighting the many “firsts” at this Forum, including engagement in the political process of government actors across four levels: local authorities; parliamentarians; ministers; and heads of state. He said the Forum’s outputs will demonstrate the importance of water to the world.

Veysel Eroğlu, Minister of Environment and Forestry, noted that “environmental fluctuations” necessitate implementation of adaptation and mitigation strategies, especially for droughts and flooding. He welcomed water management-related partnerships, stressing that Turkey has centuries of experience in managing water, with Istanbul being the “center of water management technologies.”

Süleyman Demirel, former President, Turkey, stressed that human beings have an obligation to protect the earth through better water management practices, emphasizing that “water is the centre of the universe.” Affirming that potable water is scarce, he noted that population growth could exacerbate the plight of millions of people without access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation. He highlighted the importance of dams for economic growth and social advancement.

Veysel Eroğlu then led a ministerial panel on climate change impacts in the region. He stressed the importance of legislation, early warning systems, adaptive strategies and cooperation. Raed Abu Saud, Minister of Water and Irrigation, Jordan, stressed the importance of cooperative mechanisms and legal regimes for transboundary waters. Baratli Koshmatov, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Processing Industry, Kyrgyzstan, described measures undertaken in his country to facilitate adaptation to climate change.

Abdelkbir Zahoud, Moroccan Secretary of State, Water and Environment, emphasized the importance of science and technology for bridging partnerships between countries. Said Yokubzod, Minister of Water Resources Management, Tajikistan, highlighted the need to consider the MDGs and the goals of the International Decade for Water in the regional process, and urged naming 2012 the International Year for Water Diplomacy.

Hüseyin Gökçekuş, Deputy Rector of Near East University, Turkey, said the World Bank’s Global Water Partnership highlights multiple challenges in the Mediterranean, including drought in northern Cyprus. Eroğlu highlighted a project to deliver water from southern Turkey to the region via a suspended pipeline.

A technical session, moderated by Doğan Altinbilek, Middle East Technical University, heard a number of presentations regarding the water situation in Istanbul. Ünal Öziş, Ege University, described hydraulic works in Turkey, which he said include dams, cisterns and canals, some of which have been in use for more than 500 years. Hasan Sarikaya, Istanbul Technical University, presented on “regional climate change scenarios for Turkey and its surrounding areas,” underscoring the need for the region to embrace mitigation and adaptation strategies. He highlighted the rise in temperature in the summer and the drop in precipitation in the winter, and projected that Turkey will experience water scarcity in the future.

Levent Kavvas, University of California, Davis, described a hydro-climatic model of the Tigris-Euphrates watershed for the study of water balances, noting that increased temperatures within the basin and the surrounding area has led to the melting of snow and subsequent rise in water levels in the basin. He said these will necessitate the construction of large water-storage facilities.

Aynur Gerzile, Istanbul Water and Sewerage Administration (ISKI), presented “From Past to Present, the Golden Horn,” which described the Golden Horn Environment Protection Project. She said severe pollution due to industrialization and population growth necessitated the US$653 million project, which entailed restitution, rehabilitation and beautification of the land surrounding the Golden Horn, with the waste collected from the water being recycled and reused in other city projects.

Ömer Özdemir, State Hydraulic Works, Turkey, presented the Metropolitan Drinking Water Initiative, which provides fresh drinking water to Istanbul residents, while Raif Mermutlu, ISKI, spoke on the Istanbul drinking water supply project. Mermutlu noted that with the current population growth rate, provision of drinking water will soon present a major challenge to the city.

AFRICA: Bai-Mass Taal, Executive Secretary, Africa Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), said the meeting would serve as a launching pad for the Africa Regional Paper and aimed to mobilize broad regional and international support to consolidate existing commitments to bridge water and sanitation divides in Africa. Asfow Dingamo, Minister of Water Resources, Ethiopia, noted that the World Water Forum offers an opportunity to announce Africa’s successes, “not just doom and gloom.”

Prince of Orange Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, chair of UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB), noted that there is a growing consensus on key water issues, and urged Africa and its partners to move quickly to deliver on their commitments. He underscored that donors have a moral imperative to enhance the effectiveness of their Official Development Assistance (ODA), and offered UNSGAB’s support in leveraging such funds.

Oktay Tabasaran, 5th World Water Forum Secretary General, said the Forum has placed water firmly on the international agenda and provides decision makers with a place to debate, create links and advance water-related issues. Sfara Giorgio, Chairman of the G8 Expert Group for Water and Sanitation, announced the G8-Africa Alliance on Water, launched during Italy’s Presidency, saying it would build on the lessons learned from the Evian and Toyako G8 Summits.

Observing that “we are looking closely and listening carefully,” Loїc Fauchon, WWC President, encouraged reinventing Africa’s water institutions based on African experiences and priorities, which should include finding an African “expression” of the right to water. Delivering the keynote address, Erastus Mwencha, Deputy Chairperson, African Union (AU) Commission, welcomed the inclusion of the outcomes of the Sharm el Sheikh AU Summit in 2008, in which African Heads of State endorsed 25 commitments to tackle water security and sanitation goals. Concluding that Africa speaks with one voice and “without the distinction of some being donor babies or orphans,” he urged all stakeholders to act immediately to bridge the continent’s daunting water and sanitation divides. 

Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), highlighted the WMO’s work to strengthen African institutional capacity, which includes developing a hydrological framework to make water management systems more affordable and sustainable.

Mandla Gantsho, Vice President, African Development Bank (AfDB), presented the Africa Regional Paper: “Bridging Divides in Africa’s Water Security: An Agenda to Implement Existing Political Commitments.” He underscored that the report is the culmination of a comprehensive consultative process and complements the Africa Water Vision 2025. Gantsho welcomed the increase in water funding in recent years, but stressed the scale of the problem, which includes: expanding the percentage of irrigated arable land; delivering improved sanitation to 60% of Africa’s population; and tackling capacity gaps.

Presenting on “Financing a Sustainable Expansion of Africa’s Water Infrastructure,” Andrian Rakotobe, AfDB, said US$50 billion annually will be needed to meet targets in three key areas: access to drinking water and safe sanitation; water for agriculture; and hydroelectric power multipurpose storage.

Reginald Tekateka, African Networks for Basins Development, noted that systems that can adapt to climate change require investments in knowledge and learning, diversity, proper institutional arrangements and adequate infrastructure.

In the closing session, South Africa announced that it would host the 7th session of AMCOW and the 2nd Africa Water Week in November 2009. They also expressed interest in hosting the 6th World Water Forum in three years.



OPENING SESSION: Köksal Toptan, Turkish Grand National Assembly, welcomed parliamentarians from around the world, noting the gravity of the global water crisis and the important role of effective legislation in water governance. Pierre Victoria, WWC, on behalf of Loïc Fauchon, WWC President, addressed the 200 parliamentarians, emphasizing the need to translate the principles agreed upon in the 5th World Water Forum’s parliamentary output into concrete action.

Celestion Leroy Gaombalet, Central African Republic, noted that “sharing water” is “sharing opportunities,” and that new solutions and approaches are critical to meeting freshwater demand in Africa. Cho Jin Hyeong, Republic of Korea, argued that drought and desertification cause decreasing vegetation and food availability in Asia, while restoration and prevention lessen stress from cyclical drought and floods.

Narcio Rodriguez, Brazil, called for the creation of a permanent global water parliament, under the aegis of the WWC and UNESCO-International Hydrological Programme (IHP), to coordinate efforts of parliamentarians addressing water issues around the world. He emphasized, inter alia, that Latin America faces: inequitable access to water; inadequate legislation on groundwater resources; and ineffective regulation on water services, pricing and payment for ecosystem services.

Alan Meale, UK and Council of Europe, highlighted the impacts of climate change on water availability, aquatic ecosystems and the occurrence of water disasters. Adnan Mohammad Badran, Jordan, emphasized that access to water is a basic human right, which should be implemented by parliamentarians in national laws.

Moderator Victor Ruffy, Switzerland, opened discussions on four topics being considered by parliamentarians: global change; transboundary waters; decentralization; and the right to water and sanitation. In a keynote address, William Cosgrove, World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), discussed water issues identified in the 3rd UN World Water Development Report (WWDR-3).

TOPIC SESSIONS: Mustafa Öztürk, Turkish Grand National Assembly, introduced a session on global change. He argued that developed countries should not see climate change adaptation and mitigation mechanisms as tools for profit, and emphasized the need for collective action.

During the ensuing discussion, a parliamentarian from Iraq called for a trilateral agreement on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to enhance regional cooperation, while one from Hungary emphasized linking politics and science promising to use Hungary’s upcoming EU Presidency to advance a more effective framework for sustainable water use in Europe. A parliamentarian from Bolivia lamented lack of access to technologies to harness the potential of water from glaciers. Some parliamentarians stressed the importance of avoiding water pollution and the effect of conflict on water quality, and others said that in Central Africa, conflicts and environmental problems are greater threats than natural scarcity.

Ursula Eid, Germany, introduced the session on transboundary waters. She urged ratification of the UN Watercourses Convention and using ODA to strengthen river basin organizations in developing countries.  Osman Coşkunoğlu, Turkish Grand National Assembly, recommended, inter alia, passing national laws to facilitate transboundary “benefit sharing” and developing a treaty on transboundary waters with an acceptable balance between upstream and downstream riparian states.

During discussions, a Turkish parliamentarian highlighted the difference between transboundary and international watercourses, and recommended the negotiation of separate agreements on these distinct resources; other parliamentarians noted the importance of work by the International Law Commission on transboundary groundwaters.

Salwa el Magoli, Egypt, introduced the session on decentralization. Some parliamentarians emphasized the role of effective legislation in avoiding corruption and other potential problems associated with decentralization. Others suggested that decentralization should take place along catchment boundaries. Others supported the establishment of a “world water parliament,” and proposed a database of good practices and law. Parliamentarians then discussed the benefits of dams as well as the potentially damaging impacts on neighbouring countries of damming transboundary waters.

Ali Riza Alaboyun, Turkish Grand National Assembly, introduced the session on the right to water and sanitation and stressed that parliamentarians should endeavor to ensure affordable water and sanitation to citizens without discrimination. David Ebong, Uganda, argued that effective water governance is the basis for a human right to water, and should include: public resource monitoring; access to courts to enforce rights; compliance; and partnerships.

In discussions, some parliamentarians emphasized that water is a universal human right and that provision of water is the responsibility of the public sector. Others noted the challenges in constitutionalizing water as a human right and the difficulties faced by developing countries in providing water and sanitation services.

The session ended with a video from Richard Durban, Senator, US, on legislation in the US Senate that could contribute ODA to efforts to provide clean water for 100 million people in developing countries.



CAN ADAPTATION TO CLIMATE CHANGE BE ADEQUATELY FINANCED?: Juergen Welschof, KfW Development Bank, opened the session on “Bridging the Financial Gap for Adaptation,” stressing that the development of projects that use funding effectively are as important as new sources and mechanisms for financing. As a lead author, William Cosgrove, World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), offered an overview of the WWDR-3 report, commenting that governments must prioritize water investment if donor communities are to support the sector.

In the first panel, chaired by Christoph Gleitsmann, European Investment Bank, three country experiences of national-level adaptation planning were presented. Mohamed Ben Sakka, Ministry of Agriculture and Hydrological Resources, Tunisia, described his country’s action plan for adaptation, noting its focus on long-term strategies instead of short-term crisis management. Eberhard Goll, German Organization for Technical Cooperation, highlighted the importance of a multi-level approach to adaptation, involving local-, regional- and national-level plans. Pavel Puncochar, Ministry of Agriculture, Czech Republic, called for well-designed, viable projects for attracting government and public support. Niels Vlaanderen, Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, the Netherlands, stressed the need to: secure long-term, predictable funding; develop monitoring strategies; and enlarge the scope of  adaptation. Questions arose on, inter alia: the impacts of the financial crisis on financing from governments; the establishment of budget plans for adaptation; and decentralized decision making and local participation.

During the second panel on priorities and adaptation options, Vahid Alavian, World Bank, observed that while water managers routinely deal with uncertainty, there is a need to upgrade and diversify the range of tools and management practices available to them. In their joint presentation, Nanki Kaur and Roger Calow, Overseas Development Institute, questioned the distinction between adaptation and development, noting the similarities in responses, entailing, inter alia: climate-proofing development; strengthening disaster response; infrastructural investments; and integrated water resource management mainstreaming. Discussing a comparative study, they noted that the key issue for sub-Saharan Africa is accelerating access to available water resources, while China, with a much higher adaptive capacity, is focused on balancing competing demands. Nadia Abdul, Alexandria Water Utility, Egypt, highlighted water efficiency, infrastructure and scaling up of desalination programmes as key adaptation measures in the Nile Delta. Joppe Cramwinckel, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, underscored the need to diversify available analytical tools to enhance sound decision making.

In the third panel, Chair Ron Hoffer, World Bank, described traditional cost-benefit assessments and technical approaches as inadequate for addressing climate change adaptation, and stressed the consideration of social concerns for equity and burden sharing. Marloes Bakker, Co-operative Programme on Water and Climate, the Netherlands, noted that the confusion between adaptation and development has hindered project design and funding, and stressed that funding for adaptation must be sufficient, predictable, equitable and effective.

Jan Schrijen, Dutch Association of Regional Water Authorities, the Netherlands, described the “Dutch model” for flood management financing, in which the central government manages large-scale investments in infrastructure, regional authorities oversee maintenance and smaller-scale infrastructure, and local stakeholders pay regional water taxes to support water management activities. Schrijen and Vasile Pintilie, Water Authority, Romania, discussed the viability of using the Dutch model in Romania and the European Union’s support of decentralized water management.

Tefera Woudeneh, African Water Facility, AfDB, offered strategies for securing resources for adaptation in Africa, including further mobilizing local resources, encouraging cleaner energy development, and calling for compensation from outside the region. Rafael Lazaroms, Association of Dutch Water Boards, the Netherlands, discussed design principles for targeted water taxes, noting that these provide reliable sources of income for water management activities and leverage for loans from banks. He emphasized the importance of communicating with local taxpayers during this process.

In the final panel, participants considered key policy messages. Some debated whether setting a ballpark price for adaptation based on weak data sends the right signal to decision makers. Others noted that while there is a need to improve existing models, there is sufficient “low-hanging fruit” in terms of agreed interventions that can be scaled up as a first step. Several speakers pointed to the importance of strong and accountable institutions for ensuring equitable access to water and sanitation. In his concluding remarks, Geert Aagaard, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Denmark, said the outcomes of the session echo the five key principles to be considered at the UN climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009, namely the need for: alignment with development goals; resilience building to cope with climate change; a strong governance framework; robust data and information exchange; and adequate financing.


WATER RIGHT IN EMERGENCY: BE PRINCIPLED OR GET PRACTICAL: Jean Lapègue, Action Contre la Faim (ACF), France, said the session aims to present the legal framework for the right to water and sanitation, how this right applies in emergencies, and how it can be put into practice.

Cyril Laucci, International Committee of the Red Cross, outlined the international legal frameworks related to water rights, distinguishing between international humanitarian law and human rights law. He said the former, based on the Geneva Conventions and protocols, applies mainly to situations of international and civil armed conflict, while the latter is invoked in times of peace, including in cases of natural disasters. He emphasized that international law, particularly through the right to life, protects water and water facilities during conflicts.

Clarissa Brocklehurst, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Julie Aubriot, ACF, described a UNICEF-led Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) project on the right to water and sanitation in emergencies. Aubriot noted that few organizations are working on both human rights and water and sanitation, and stressed the importance of developing a common language across these groups.

Antoine Delepière, Terre des Hommes, discussed on-the-ground implementation of a human rights-based approach, highlighting challenges for community engagement in times of emergency. Jakaranda Neptune, UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti, said the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is a useful entry point to discussing the human right to water, and outlined how a right to water campaign was launched in Haiti, although the country is not party to the ICESCR.

Lara El-Jazairi, Centre On Housing Rights and Evictions, highlighted a Damage Assessment report by the Coastal Municipalities Water Utility in Gaza, which found that the recent war with Israel resulted in damages of US$6 million to water and sanitation infrastructure. She listed violations of international humanitarian law by Israel as an occupying power and during the war.

Fuad Bateh, Legal Consultant to the Palestinian Water Authority, emphasized that the human right to water and sanitation must be realized in the context of full realization of other human rights, and called for recognition of the rights of Palestinians under international water law. He stressed that the focus in Israel and Palestine should be on equitable and reasonable water access, rather than minimum water needs.

Discussions addressed, inter alia: definitions of emergencies, especially in the context of recurrent or prolonged emergencies; concerns over setting the minimum water need at 50L per person daily, given the much higher need when the right to food is accounted for; linking emergency responses with longer-term development activities; reasons for resistance to the recognition of the right to water; state sovereignty and the ability of the international community to secure water rights for people in countries with conflict; and the need to recognize the right to water in the Ministerial Declaration of the World Water Forum.


A CONVERSATION WITH GRANTEES OF THE BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: Louis Boorstin, Deputy Director of the Foundation’s WASH programme, listed impact, sustainability and scalability as its central goals.  He stressed the Foundation’s interest in leadership and learning, and its emphasis on “bringing sustainable solutions to scale.” Presentations were made by four grantees.

Glenn Austin, Safe Water Project, PATH, described a project on sustainable and scalable point-of-use water treatment and storage devices, explaining that commercial solutions to health challenges are generally inaccessible for the very poorest people, but that innovative systems might be designed that could lead to self-sustaining market-based systems for the poor.

Jae So, Water and Sanitation Programme, presented the “Global-Scaling-Up Sanitation Project,” aimed at increasing access to basic sanitation and supporting the development of enabling environments for sanitation systems, particularly through a combination of community-led sanitation and sanitation marketing approaches.

Sam Parker, Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, outlined a project focused on supporting local service providers, leveraging private sector resources for water and sanitation, and linking community-based organizations with providers for large urban areas.

Ben Lamoree and Catarina Fonseca, International Water and Sanitation Centre, presented the WASHCost programme, aimed at improving life-cycle service planning in water and sanitation systems by focusing on long-term maintenance and sustainability in project design.

Participants addressed, inter alia: the challenges of reaching low-income communities; the effects of cultural differences in project implementation; how to establish evaluation criteria for projects that are responsive to learning; the challenges of demand generation for water treatment and sanitation services; and how the grantees navigated the political landscapes in which their projects were set.


WORLD WATER EXPO AND FAIR: Opened by Veysel Eroğlu, Minister of Environment and Forestry, the World Water Expo and Fair continued to display stands from international water and environment companies.  Eroğlu highlighted that “the interest of so many companies highlights the importance of 5th World Water Forum and Turkey.”

The World Water Forum 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 Robynne Boyd, Claudio Chiarolla, Alexandra Conliffe, Tallash Kantai, Wangu Mwangi, Kate Neville, and Anna Schulz. The Photographer is Leila Mead. The Digital Editor is Diego Noguera. The Editor is Lisa Schipper, Ph.D. <>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the 5th World Water Forum Secretariat. 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., 11A, New York, New York 10022, United States of America. The IISD team at the 5th World Water Forum can be contacted by e-mail at <>.
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