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[4th World Water Forum]

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4th World Water Forum

Mexico City | March 16-22, 2006

World Water Forum Addresses Water for Growth and Development

On Friday, participants to the 4th World Water Forum convened in plenary for the Americas regional presentation. They also heard a keynote address by Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan and an introduction to the Forum's framework theme "Water for growth and development," which was further explored in numerous thematic sessions throughout the day.

Above: Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez, Mayor of Mexico City, talks with 4th World Water Forum Co-Chair Cristóbal Jaime Jáquez during the Participation of the Mayors.

Friday, 17 March
European Initiatives on Water and Poverty

Jean-Pierre Mbassi, Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa, chaired the session. Noting the existence of several decentralization initiatives, he lamented that many local stakeholders remain outside participatory processes in water initiatives.

Wolfgang Stalzer, Austrian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, said that Austria is committed to the EU Water Initiative and the EU's Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific (EU-ACP) Water Facility. He underlined that the EU Water Facility could become the "lighthouse" in international water financing.

Evelyn Otim, National Water and Sewerage Corporation of Uganda, addressed the funding gap between national- and community-level water projects, underscoring the importance of women in these projects.
Regional Presentation: Americas

Benedito Braga, Vice-President of the World Water Council (WWC), opened the Americas regional presentation.

Jorge Mora Portuguéz, Central American Network for Water Action, elaborated on the region's preparatory process for the 4th Forum.

Abel Mamani, Bolivia's Minister of Water, expressed hope that water as a human right will soon be recognized in Bolivia's constitution.

Addressing water management in the region, Abel Mejía, World Bank, said modest breakthroughs have been achieved in the preservation and management of water resources, although decreasing investment, increasing competitiveness and other challenges persist.

Maureen Ballestero, Global Water Partnership (GWP) Central America, presented the regional document for the Americas, noting the region's high degree of water variability, predominately urban character, vulnerability to natural disasters and hydropower potential.

Antonio Vives, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), addressed the challenges of financing water supply. Noting the need for supplies to reach the lowest-income groups, he observed that the countries where investment is most needed have the lowest level of tax collection coupled with inefficient water supply and institutional management.
Keynote Speech by Prince Naruhito of Japan
Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan gave a keynote address on Edo (currently Tokyo) and water transport, drawing parallels between water infrastructure development in England and Japan and how these contributed to the Industrial Revolution in the case of England and to the growth of Edo since the 17th Century. He outlined the development of water engineering solutions and their use in modern water infrastructure.

On the history of water management in Edo, he highlighted several water management and infrastructure projects, including an eastward diversion of the Tone River from Tokyo Bay into the Pacific Ocean, land reclamation through drainage, and Japan's oldest Minuma-dai irrigation canal.

In closing, he noted the special relationship between people and water that has contributed to the creation of present-day Tokyo, and encouraged participants to draw inspiration from pioneering water management solutions throughout history as well as from local knowledge.
Keynote Speech on Water for Growth and Development
Introducing the theme "Water for growth and development," Luis Alberto Moreno, IDB President, called for a systematic and continuous approach to tackling water issues, especially through improving sustainable funding for water infrastructure. He said that to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), investments are an urgent priority. He said investments in sanitation activities are effective tools for achieving the MDGs' water target, and opined that changes in economical and political systems pose administrative and financial challenges. He advocated: universal access to water, combined with the promotion of efficient use; mechanisms to solve water-related conflicts; efficient financial structures to ensure reasonable prices for local communities; and subsidies to ensure maintenance of water infrastructure to limit water waste. He also recommended: well-regulated private sector involvement at micro- and macro-levels; incentives to promote efficient financial administration; attracting new financial resources while strengthening existing ones; and additional multilateral financial programmes.
Dynamics of Water and Growth: Issues and Political Reflections

Chairing the session, Katherine Sierra, World Bank, emphasized that Africa is a region for priority action.

David Grey, Senior Water Advisor, World Bank, introduced the framework theme paper: "Water for Responsible Growth and Sustainable Development," which examines the concept of a "minimum platform," a threshold that countries must acquire to achieve water security.

Mohamed El Yazghi, Morocco's Minister of Environment, described his country's water management efforts, stressing the importance of democratic institutions, respect for human rights, and participation of local authorities in policy-making.

Suresh Prabhu, Member of Parliament, India, stressed the importance of environmentally sustainable, socially desirable and politically viable water policy-making. He said all people have the fundamental need for clean air and water, and that policies must be mainstreamed and focus on long-term water security.

Achim Steiner, Director General of The World Conservation Union (IUCN), suggested that the water debate needs to be framed in terms of rights and risks. He emphasized that all water management entails costs and benefits and that good governance, multi-stakeholder scrutiny and options assessment are required in decision-making processes.

Maria Mutagamba, Ugandan Minister of State for Water, said Africa is being held hostage by its hydrology, which is preventing Africans from improving their living conditions. She stressed the severity of droughts, linked water and gender issues, and urged greater awareness throughout the international community of the water crisis in Africa.
Indigenous Towns and Water

Xóchitl Galvez Ruiz, National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples of Mexico, emphasized the sanctity of water, urged efficient mechanisms to stop the depletion of major sources of water, and stressed the need for local communities to play a primary role in water planning.

Raúl Hernández Garciadiego, Alternatives, Mexico, explained that his NGO's "Water Forever" and "Quali" programmes promote regional sustainable development for the benefit of marginalized communities, and described a water regeneration system in the Mixteca region of Mexico that reinforces indigenous knowledge combined with use of modern technologies.

Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, highlighted the Indigenous Peoples Kyoto Water Declaration from the 3rd Forum, noting that indigenous peoples are placed on the Earth in a sacred manner to care for all creation and water. He urged for a rights-based, as well as an integrated, approach to water management.
Access to Finance for Local Governments

Noting the complexity of financing water for agriculture, James Winpenny, GWP Consultant, said "business as usual" practices are not sustainable. He stressed the need to focus on financing the modernization of existing irrigation schemes and on unconventional sources of financing.

Task Force Chair Angel Gurría noted the need to have water financing issues prioritized on political agendas, increase focus on the demand side, and strengthen the role of local authorities. He also announced that the work of the Task Force will continue after the 4th Forum.

On local governments' perspectives, Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, United Cities and Local Governments of Africa, said water problems are local problems that should be addressed by local authorities and that financial mechanisms must directly engage with them. He added that local emerging markets must be supported and local capacities reinforced.
Water and Energy

Panelists underscored the need to develop energy systems that draw on a combination of renewable energy sources and highlighted the important role of hydroelectricity in addressing problems of intermittency.
Ensuring Dams are a Platform for Growth and Sustainable Development

Left: Session Chair Ricardo Sánchez Sosa, Director of the UNEP Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, highlighted the controversies surrounding dams, and called for balanced actions in pursuit of sustainable development.

Right: Jerson Kelman, President, Brazilian National Electric Energy Agency, stressed the potential benefits of dams to developing countries, calling for integrative licensing, adequate compensation of local communities, and strategic planning to ensure environmental sustainability.

Business, Water and Sustainable Development

Participants in the session heard case studies on projects in water purification and wastewater treatment, and information on the role of banks and local government in supporting water services.
Participation of the Mayors

Luis Armando Reynoso Femat, Governor of Aguascalientes, presented two projects undertaken in his State to address water supply and management: the "Clear Water" strategic project, which resulted in a saving of 50 million cubic meters of water per year through modernized irrigation; and the integral rescue and sanitation of the San Pedro river, including through the installation of four water treatment plants. He stressed coordination amongst all levels of government and local participation across different sectors of society.

Ney González Sánchez, governor of Nayarit, spoke on water and hydroelectricity, presenting El Cajó and La Yesca projects. He emphasized that water is a common good belonging to the country that needs to be managed in close collaboration between different levels of government with a comprehensive outlook for the benefit of local development. He called for international funding to states and municipalities for infrastructural development and supplementary actions, such as sustainable forestry and watershed management.

Juan Carlos Romero Hicks, Governor of Guanajuato, outlined various projects in his state, highlighting a programme for the treatment of waste water in coordination with townships and municipalities, which included the construction of 55 collectors and has resulted in 12 new water treatment plants. He emphasized states' role in linking different levels of government, and underscored the importance of decentralization and of working with able and willing municipalities.
Around the Forum

Ismael Hernández, governor of Durango, was flanked by two constituents in traditional costumes.

1992 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Guatemala, fielded questions from the press.

The National Water Commission (CONAGUA) booth in the Water Fair.

Participants were treated to African drumming and dance throughout the day.

More Information

4th World Water Forum Site
Conference Program
World Water Council

Related Links

3rd World Water Forum,
Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka, Japan, March 2003
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
Ramsar COP-9,
Kampala, Uganda, November 2005
3rd Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands,
Paris, France, January 2006