See more coverage of this event on the main IISD ENB website

We have launched a new website to better share our reports of global environmental negotiations.

As well as current coverage of new negotiations, you can find our original reports from this event by clicking here.

IISD RS Linkages Home

[4th World Water Forum]

Daily Coverage
Daily Web
English Español
22 Mar &
Click for additional translations...
Photo Page
Additional Photos from the Forum

4th World Water Forum

Mexico City | March 16-22, 2006

Prince of Orange Addresses World Water Forum

On Saturday, participants at the 4th World Water Forum addressed the theme of implementing integrated water resources management (IWRM), convening in plenary to hear a keynote address by Prince of Orange Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and an introduction to the IWRM implementation theme. They also attended a Europe regional presentation and some 40 IWRM thematic sessions held throughout the day.

Above: Prince of Orange Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands spoke to 4th World Water Forum Co-Chair Cristóbal Jaime Jáquez prior to the Prince's keynote speech.

Saturday, 18 March
Regional Presentation: Europe

Friedrich Barth, Institute for Organizational Communication, moderated the Europe regional presentation.

Francis Bougaire, Burkina Faso, discussed water and sanitation issues in Africa.

Nancy Patricia Gutiérrez Cortinez, Member of Parliament, Colombia, noted that lack of financing and research and development capabilities are limitations to technology access in Colombia.

Jerone van der Sommen, Director General of the Netherlands Water Partnership, presented the European report to Prince of Orange Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.

Youth representatives participated in the regional presentation.
Keynote Address
Prince of Orange Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands highlighted growing awareness that the water crisis is a management crisis. He urged countries to continue to take action to develop IWRM and water efficiency plans, noting that the 2005 Johannesburg Plan of Implementation target for these plans has passed without achievement in many countries. Stressing that water is crucial for social and economic development, environmental protection and security, he said the need is not for new policies but for concrete project action. Noting that his country has over 800 years of experience on water management issues, he stressed the need to share experiences and knowledge.

He advocated focusing on positive factors, including the many achievements of Global Water Partnership (GWP), encouraged the collation of best practices, and challenged participants to learn from the Forum's outcomes and to use them to inspire actions and projects on the ground.

Introduction to the Framework Theme

Katherine Sierra, World Bank, expressed confidence in the concept of IWRM, stressing that development that either undermines the environment or is socially unacceptable, cannot be called development. Noting that water-related disasters receive significantly more attention than the world's chronic water problems, she stressed poor countries' vulnerability and called for increased investment in water control and development, combined with institutional development and community involvement.

Calling for global standards of social and ecological sustainability, she stressed the importance of innovations and increased financial flows. She said the world's diverse conditions require creative solutions and pledged the World Bank's support to IWRM. Noting that all investments must be supported by robust regulatory systems and involve all stakeholders, she identified good governance as essential.
Implementation of IWRM in National Plans 2005

João Bosco Senra, Brazil's Ministry of Environment, noted that in developing its IWRM plan, Brazil focused on new approaches to water management, including decentralization and increased public participation.

Gordon Young, World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), opened the session, explaining that several global and regional surveys measuring the extent to which countries have incorporated IWRM plans would be presented.

Torkil Jønch-Clausen, Denmark, chaired the session on Implementation of IWRM in National Plans.

Ligia Castro de Doens, National Environmental Authority of Panama presented an overview of the Commission for Environment and Development Strategy for Central America. She noted that outdated water laws and sectoral, supply-side and short-term approaches have hindered water management.

Alberto Crespo, Water Portal of the Americas, discussed Bolivia's 1994 Popular Participation Law, emphasizing that it led to an increase in coverage of water and sanitation. He attributed its success to participation of stakeholders.

Juan Carlos Valencia Vargas, Mexico's National Water Commission (CONAGUA), provided an overview of the National Water Plan. He described the state of water resources in Mexico, highlighting overexploitation of aquifers, surface water pollution, and extreme hydrometeorological events.

Lessons Learned on Facilitating IWRM Planning

Madiodio Niasse, GWP, highlighted Burkina Faso's national IWRM planning process and, in particular, the formulation of its IWRM Action Plan. He said that the process resulted in the following recommendations: integrate IWRM into national development initiatives; operationalize key legislation provisions; empower institutional units responsible for IWRM; ensure genuine public participation; continue donor support; secure budget allocations; test solutions; and showcase achievements.

Mike Muller, Wits University School of Public and Development Management, said IWRM must be accepted at the water management level as well as among global decision-makers. He encouraged: translating theory and policy into action and outcomes; learning from earlier experiences; incorporating the IWRM process into national development planning cycles; and stressing water as a currency for development.

Rachid Balafrej, on behalf of Mohamed El Yazghi, Morocco's Minister of Environment, highlighted Moroccan experiences with IWRM planning. He noted increased awareness at all levels of government and stressed the need to integrate the work of different sectors and involve national governments, finance ministries and the private sector. He also called for increased technical training, education, and focus on conflict resolution
Transboundary Water Management and Regional Integration in Africa

Bruno Jean-Richard Itoua, Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Republic of Congo, chaired the session.

Robert Dessouassi, Niger Basin Authority, spoke about IWRM in the Nile River Basin, involving nine countries working together under the Nile River Basin Authority.

Madeleine de Grandmaison, International Network of Basin Organizations (INBO), underscored the role of women.
Integrated Management and Governance: A Framework for Making Empowerment a Reality

Bowdin King, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), moderated the panel on integrated management and governance.

Welcoming participants to the session, Sybe Schaap, President of the Dutch Association of Water Boards, emphasized that the water crisis is a management problem, and stated that the building blocks for an effective governance framework include stakeholder involvement, adequate financial resources, and effective organization and legislation.

Rapule Pule, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), discussed an ICLEI project that engages and assists local governments in IWRM implementation in the Limpopo River basin in southern Africa.
The Challenges of Legal Water Sector Reforms

José Miguel Zeledón, Ministry of Environment and Energy, Costa Rica, spoke about the history of water legislation in his country, characterized by a long process of wide and ongoing consultations. He explained that the legislation adopts the "polluter pays" principle and uses an ecosystem approach.

Francisco Rodríguez, Dominican Republic's National Institute, outlined the development of water-related legislation in his country, highlighting that only 30 percent of the population has access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Enrique Salazar, Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture, elaborated on Peru's legal reform process, highlighting the work of different successive commissions on expanding existing legislation on water services and basin management. He said developments were hampered by a general reluctance to change legislation and by a confusing technical and legal framework.
The Role of Water and IWRM in the Achievement of the MDGs

Mi Hua, Global Environment and Technology Foundation, discussed the Millennium Project's experience regarding water and poverty reduction strategy planning in Africa, reviewing the preparation of MDG-based strategies and MDG needs assessments, and highlighting important strategies. She also noted challenges in Kenya, including huge financing gaps and corruption.

Johan Kuylenstierna, Stockholm International Water Institute, moderated the session on the role of water and Integrated Water Resources Management in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Ede Iljasz, World Bank, presented on progress in achieving the MDG water supply and sanitation targets in Africa. He stressed the need for a Pan-African country-owned, regionally supported water supply and sanitation MDG roadmap, which would consist of an MDG outlook, a sector preparedness assessment, and a sustainability scorecard.
Synthesis session on Transboundary Basin Management: Regional Consensus as a Driving Force for Progress and Development

Helen Fotopoulos, City of Montreal, Canada, outlined the history of water management in Montreal. She described how lack of concern, budgetary shortsightedness and administrative neglect have limited efficient water management, which she said is a collective, long-term endeavor. Fotopoulos advocated the wide adoption of a "water culture."

Olivier Cogels, Mekong River Commission, presented the Mekong River Management Project, explaining that this is a regional IWRM project at the basin scale, the main purpose of which is to alleviate poverty.

Adama Sanogo, Secretary-General of the Organization for the Development of the Senegal River, co-chaired the session, and provided a summary of participants' contributions at the end.
IWRM in Federative Countries

Left: Noting that Brazil has states with broad political autonomy for water resources, José Machado, ANA, identified diplomacy and dialogue as major IWRM challenges for federations.
Right: Jacques Cicard, Seine- Normandy Basin Organization, said the river basin committees in France do not superimpose governmental boundaries. Emphasizing the usage of the "polluter pays" principle, Cicard explained how these committees vote on appropriate tax levels for polluters.
Around the Forum

Festive traditional attires from different Mexican states were on display.

Orange-shirted volunteers helped participants throughout Centro Banamex.

The state of Michoacán booth featured colorful walls and a movie-screen ceiling.

Reporters tried out a rug-sized version of a children's game about the water cycle, from the Ramsar Convention Secretariat.

Students used computers to learn more about water in the Water Fair's educational area.

Writer Nienke Beintema offered a copy of the World Water Forum Bulletin to her countryman, Prince of Orange Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.

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