Report of main proceedings for 20 April 2004

CSD 12

In the morning, delegates in Conference Room 1 continued the thematic discussion on water, focusing on water policies and reforms, and capacity building. Delegates in Conference Room 2 engaged in interactive discussions with Major Groups on their contribution to implementation. In the afternoon, delegates in Conference Room 1 heard reviews of progress in implementation for the UNESCAP and UNECE regions. Delegates in Conference Room 2 participated in interactive discussions on water, focusing on balancing water uses, and on water demand management and conservation.


THEMATIC DISCUSSION ON WATER: Water policy and reform: This session was chaired by CSD-12 Vice-Chair Bruno Stagno Ugarte (Costa Rica).

Li Yuanyan, Ministry of Water Resources, China, underscored the need to address unsustainable patterns of consumption, estab­lish legal and regulatory frameworks, and mobilize resources. Mike Muller, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, South Africa, identified key elements of South Africa’s water policy reforms, including the recognition of water as a national asset and the abolition of riparian rights. Raquel Alfaro Fernandois, Chile, highlighted the importance of regulating public and private enter­prises in the water sector.

Discussion: Many speakers shared national experiences in sustainable water resources management, water policy reform and governance. Several countries informed participants that they will develop IWRM strategies by 2005. Mauritius, for AOSIS, called on CSD-12 to include SIDS-appropriate recommendations and proposals to address water policy reforms and governance. The RAMSAR CONVENTION SECRETARIAT noted its shift in focus from saving species to protecting wetlands and water systems for people. The EU referred to the potential for conflict arising from increased water demand. INDIA emphasized that national governments are in the best position to establish water management mechanisms, and said partnerships cannot replace government commitments. TRADE UNIONS said ODA should not be tied to market-based solutions.

Capacity building: Highlighting South Africa’s capacity building experience, Mike Muller said the “learning-by-doing” approach should be adopted over the “reform-then-development” approach. Dennis Mwanza, Water Utility Partnership, Cote d’Ivoire, emphasized the need for utilities to develop water tariffs based on cost recovery and to take the needs of poor consumers into account. Rosario Villaluna, Global Coalition of Water and Sanitation Resource Centres, the Philippines, underscored the role of training and capacity building networks in accelerating access to safe water and sanitation.

Discussion: Many speakers presented their national water polices and/or reform processes as they relate to capacity building. The IUCN emphasized the need to address ecosystem health, and FRANCE stressed the need to establish or strengthen watershed management organisations. YOUTH urged involving vulnerable groups and civil society in water governance, and the CZECH REPUBLIC highlighted private sector involvement.

REGIONAL SESSIONS: UNESCAP: CSD-12 Vice-Chair Toru Shimizu (Japan) chaired this session. Keiko Okaido, UNESCAP, presented the outcomes of the CSD regional imple­mentation meeting held in Bangkok in October 2003. Isikia Rabici Savua, Fiji, for the UNESCAP Pacific subregion, noted that Pacific SIDS have unique and fragile water resources, constraints in sustaining water and wastewater provision, and complex water governance requirements. A.Y.B.I. Siddiqi, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Cooperatives, Bangla­desh, addressed water quality and hygiene problems resulting from arsenic pollution in Bangladesh. Kuniyoshi Takeuchi, University of Yamanashi, Japan, said natural and human disasters in the region are impacting the achievement of the MDGs.

DiscussionTAJIKISTAN and the REPUBLIC OF KOREA called on the regional commissions to prepare programmes for the International Decade for Action: Water for Life (2005-2015). AUSTRALIA said the particular needs of SIDS in the UNESCAP region should be highlighted by CSD-12. FIJI, the SOLOMON ISLANDS and TUVALU called on the international community to support SIDS in implementing water-related goals and targets. NAURU underscored the importance of conserving and managing surface and groundwater, and with INDONESIA urged a focus on rainwater harvesting. INDIA said issues regarding inadequate financing, technology transfer and capacity building need to be highlighted by CSD-12. FARMERS and other Major Groups said women suffer the most from the lack of sanitation services.

UNECE: This session was chaired by CSD-12 Vice-Chair Eva Tomic (Slovenia). Brigita Schmögnerová, UNECE, reviewed work done by the region on water, sanitation and human settle­ments-related issues. Margaret Beckett, Department for Environ­ment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK, presented the outcome of the UNECE regional implementation forum, held in Geneva in January 2004.

Discussion: All speakers commended the forum. YOUTH suggested recognizing access to water as a human right, and raised objections to the privatization of water resources, and to urban sprawl, while WOMEN stressed access to affordable water and sanitation. The US said the notion of water as a human right raises problems, and advised concentrating on practical implementation. SWITZERLAND described its experience with private public participation in water management, and proposed another regional forum for early 2005. The EU noted the role the UNECE region can play in global IWRM efforts, and described EU initiatives to facilitate agreed water targets. CUBA and NIGERIA called for exchange of information and experiences between the regions. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION said extra-regional countries belonging to the same river basin should be involved in addressing water problems and, supported by KYRGYZSTAN, drew attention to the water situation in Central Asia.


MAJOR GROUPS: This session was chaired by Vice-Chair Tomic. WOMEN cautioned against the commodification of water, stating that it takes water management out of the hands of women. She urged equal representation of women in the development of IWRM and efficiency plans by 2005. INDIGENOUS PEOPLE noted that the commodification of water generates inequity in distribution and stressed the need for an ethical framework for water management. LOCAL AUTHORITIES expressed concern over the slow process of decentralization, and their lack of access to multilateral and bilateral financing. While supporting partnerships, TRADE UNIONS said many WSSD initiatives do not adhere to the “Bali guiding principles,” and are used by governments to abdicate responsibility for providing basic services.

FARMERS stressed the importance of partnerships, legal frameworks, informal agreements, collaboration with the scientific community, and capacity building. NGOs identified lack of leader­ship and poor information sharing as roadblocks to delivering adequate water supplies. She said service delivery should be equi­table and build on local initiatives. The SCIENTIFIC AND TECH­NOLOGICAL COMMUNITY stressed the importance of an interdisciplinary rather than sectoral approach to solving water problems, and urged increasing investment in education. BUSI­NESS AND INDUSTRY highlighted its role in, inter alia, offering innovative financial products and raising sanitation and hygiene awareness. YOUTH highlighted how they have organized and implemented programmes on water protection and IWRM and urged enhancing youth participation in decision making.

Discussion: Several delegates said all stakeholders have a shared responsibility in achieving the MDGs. SWEDEN raised concerns regarding inadequate mainstreaming of women’s partici­pation, and highlighted its campaign targeted at engaging civil society in MDG work. JAPAN proposed strengthening local government capacity. TRADE UNIONS highlighted the role of municipalities in providing secure water services. TANZANIA noted the need for institutional and human capacity to absorb new technologies. EGYPT sought ideas for increasing S&T investment. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION asked business and industry what incentives would encourage their participation in partnerships.

Several participants cautioned against water privatization, and BURKINA FASO and TANZANIA called for recognizing water as a human right. AUSTRALIA mentioned national models of water privatization to protect the rights of poor communities. FRANCE highlighted plans for a code of conduct for public private partnerships. VENEZUELA and JAPAN stressed the importance of education. NGOs said in some cases Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers were undermining the MDGs.

INTERACTIVE DISCUSSIONS ON WATER: This session was chaired by Vice-Chair Ugarte.

Balancing water uses: Munther Haddadin, Jordan, outlined water demand and supply management measures in Jordan, including: groundwater use, inter-basin transfer, wastewater reuse, and reliance on imports. Frank Rijsberman, International Water Management Institute, highlighted the need to balance water for agriculture and for the environment, and generate “more crop per drop.” Alfred Duda, GEF, said safeguarding ecosystem integrity through IWRM is key to achieving the MDGs and suggested that adaptation to climate change will drive the transition to IWRM.

DiscussionThe NETHERLANDS noted the need to adapt demand to reflect water systems. ALGERIA described how proper investment, partnerships and desalinization have been used to secure water supply. BUSINESS AND INDUSTRY highlighted initiatives to reduce agricultural water consumption. TRADE UNIONS identified the need for systematic integration of workers into efforts toward achieving the MDGs. WOMEN urged involvement of actors traditionally excluded from decision making, noting that they are responsible for implementing demand management and conservation strategies. Supported by SWEDEN, she called for 50% female representation in water organizations.

Several countries, including GERMANY and JAPAN highlighted partnership initiatives, and SAUDI ARABIA outlined national policies in water management. The US recommended partnerships in balancing water uses. SWITZERLAND underscored the role of ecosystems, particularly forests, in water management and flood mitigation. The UK drew attention to challenges in water management caused by rapid urbanization.

Water demand management and conservation: Rijsberman called for increasing water productivity rather than irrigation efficiency, and identified a “whole-basin” approach as a means to achieve this. Apichart Anukularmphai, Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand, noted the slow shift from water supply to demand management in Southeast Asia. He highlighted the challenge of ensuring water for poor farmers and the role of economic instruments in increasing efficiency. David Brooks, Friends of the Earth, Canada, underscored the benefits of water demand over supply management. He highlighted that water conservation requires behavioral change, urging a shift from heavily meat-based diets, and noted the equity benefits from demand management and conservation, and the nutritional, income and sanitation benefits from home gardens.

Discussion: IUCN, supported by AUSTRALIA, advocated using “environment flows.” SOUTH AFRICA said trade policies that reduce crop profitability restrain investment to increase water productivity. CANADA stressed linkages between water reuse and food security. LOCAL AUTHORITIES noted the importance of community participation. EGYPT emphasized learning-by-doing and BURKINA FASO stressed capacity building. Rijsberman highlighted the need to address the MDG poverty target through water for development. Brooks said water pricing need not penalize the poor, EGYPT drew attention to agricultural subsidies and water pricing, and FRANCE highlighted its tariff-based incentives for reducing agricultural water use. UNEP stressed the need for regional policies to manage demand across shared waters. COSTA RICA urged a non-politicized water policy based on ecology and people. NIGERIA urged addressing debt to free up resources that could be invested toward implementing the MDGs.


According to some observers, several delegations have expressed concern over the contents of the CSD-12 Chair’s Summary, expected late next week. While Chair Brende and the CSD Secretariat have been quick to point out that this is not a negotiated outcome, it is however, the main contribution of this session to the negotiations for the policy session next year. A primary concern of some delegations is the increased focus in the debates on the ecosystems approach as a building block for achieving the water- and sanitation-related goals. It is likely that such references may indeed initiate some negotiations. While primarily informal, they may just spill over into the official discussions and break the self-imposed two-year negotiation drought.


CONFERENCE ROOM 1: In the morning, delegates will hear statements on the overall review of implementation of Agenda 21, Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21, and JPOI. In the afternoon, a thematic discussion will take place on sanitation, focusing on status of implementation of the MDGs and JPOI goals, and strategies for improving access to basic sanitation.

CONFERENCE ROOM 2: In the morning, interactive discussions will take place on water, focusing on financing, and empowering stakeholders. In the afternoon, delegates will hear status reports on inter-agency coordination, partnerships, national reporting and indicators.

PARTNERSHIPS FAIR AND LEARNING CENTER: Partnerships in the area of human settlements will take place in Conference Room 6. The Learning Center will take place in Conference Room D. Check CSD Today for details or visit for details.

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