Report of main proceedings for 1 March 2005
CSD 13 Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (IPM)
Delegates met throughout the day to discuss water and sanitation issues. On water, discussions focused on: providing access to safe drinking water; preparing IWRM plans and creating an institutional framework for IWRM; enhancing water use efficiency and managing competing uses; and addressing water quality, ecosystem management and disaster prevention. On sanitation, delegates addressed issues concerning: providing access to adequate sanitation; and managing wastewater and strengthening monitoring systems. In the afternoon, an expert panel introduced policy options and possible actions for addressing human settlements, following which participants engaged in a discussion session.
WATER: This session was chaired by CSD-13 Vice-Chair Khaled Elbakly (Egypt). Many delegates welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on water, emphasized holistic approaches that integrate water and sanitation, and underscored the importance of women’s and civil society participation in planning and implementation. Many developing countries underscored the need for means of implementation, urging, inter alia, capacity development to enhance and ensure institutional and regulatory capacities, appropriate technology transfer, and increased financing and development assistance. Madagascar, for the AFRICAN GROUP, urged support for South-South cooperation and the sharing of best practices. Many delegates underscored the importance of decentralization. The EU, MAURITANIA, UK and VENEZUELA said local initiatives should be housed within a national framework, and SOUTH AFRICA said water should be considered a national asset.
Many delegations underscored the role of regional organizations and partnerships, as well as the importance of institutional frameworks, in water management and transboundary cooperation. Delegates discussed and called for the support of cooperative initiatives, including the Nile River Basin initiative and an Italian initiative, in collaboration with UNEP-GPA and UNESCO, to increase cooperation in meeting rural water needs. Delegations also highlighted the role of a number of relevant UN programmes, including the UNEP-GPA and UNEP’s Regional Seas Programme.
CANADA and FINLAND stressed the need for an intergovernmental home for water and sanitation issues, and NGOs called for a multilateral institutional focal point for tracking and monitoring IWRM plans. Several countries called for strengthening water monitoring programmes. Underscoring the importance of data collection, monitoring and reporting, FRANCE outlined options to address these issues at the national, regional and global levels.
On safe drinking water, delegates discussed policy options, highlighting the need to:
- recover costs incurred by operators (Switzerland);
- invest in the public sector (Indonesia, Nigeria);
- create enabling conditions for private sector involvement, while recognizing that it cannot fill the financing gap (Indonesia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Venezuela);
- focus on demand-driven approaches (Australia);
- consider the possible adverse affects of relying on market-based approaches (Algeria, Egypt, Venezuela);
- avoid imposing conditions on international assistance regarding private sector involvement or the use of unsustainable technologies (Tanzania, Venezuela, NGOs);
- create subsidies that are well-targeted and transparent (India);
- create and use credit schemes, including self-renewing credit and microcredit, as well as consider structural adjustment of tariff systems (EU);
- develop deep water aquifers (Japan, Azerbaijan);
- harvest rainwater as an alternative source (Tanzania);
- develop shallow groundwater resources (Burkina Faso);
- provide support for desalination (Egypt); and
- consider the environment and production sector as users in rights-based approaches (South Africa).
On IWRM, many delegations emphasized an ecosystems approach, with SWITZERLAND, supported by the EU and others, underscoring the role of ecosystems in protecting and providing water resources for multiple uses. INDIA, INDONESIA and NORWAY urged tailoring IWRM approaches to country circumstances. EGYPT stressed the need to reconsider the definition of IWRM to ensure it is not “stretched too thin.” Delegates also discussed policy options, such as:
- integrating IWRM plans into NSSDs and PRSPs (Switzerland);
- increasing payment for environmental services (Costa Rica);
- developing water safety plans that take into account health considerations (US);
- ensuring that national MEA focal points are involved in drafting and implementing IWRM plans (Switzerland); and
- designating a UN agency to support IWRM at the country level (Sierra Leone).
On enhancing water use efficiency and managing competing uses, delegates discussed:
- prioritizing gains from agricultural water efficiency (EU);
- maintaining and repairing infrastructure (Japan, Nigeria);
- “reducing, reusing and recycling” water (Barbados);
- rehabilitating catchment areas (Kenya);
- labeling appliances’ water efficiency (Australia);
- developing institutional and legal frameworks to address competing uses (Australia);
- managing demand through water conservation standards, usage-based fees, and metering (US);
- focusing on rural areas (G-77/China, Japan); and
- considering refugees and internally displaced persons (Azerbaijan).
On water quality, delegates discussed policy options including:
- managing wastes through treatment and landfill control (Switzerland);
- addressing subsidies that encourage unsustainable fertilizer and pesticide use (NGOs);
- applying user- and polluter-pays systems (Brazil, NGOs);
- using monitoring and assessment systems to set priorities (Egypt);
- integrating water quality strategies into IWRM plans (Egypt);
- assessing the costs of not addressing water quality (Egypt); and
- prohibiting toxic pollutant discharge (US).
On disaster prevention and management, delegates discussed:
- increasing the capacity for water facilities to cope with natural disasters (Iran);
- developing water-related infrastructure to mitigate flood and drought impacts (African Group, Tanzania);
- including water issues in climate change adaptation plans (Panama);
- prioritizing and scaling up water storage (Kenya);
- the role of water-related ecosystems for reducing disaster risk (Switzerland);
- the vulnerability of the poorest countries (Finland);
- the results of the Kobe-Hyogo World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) (Japan, Switzerland);
- the need for an international center for water hazards and risk management (Japan); and
- an appeal tabled at the WCDR to halve the loss of human life caused by major water disasters by 2015 (Japan).
SANITATION: This session was chaired by CSD-13 Vice-Chair Dagmara Berbalk (Germany). Discussion focused on policy options and practical measures, including decentralized approaches, the role of stakeholders, health and education, and financing. Many delegates welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on sanitation and stressed the importance of its focus on the integrated approach to water and sanitation. Delegates also underscored: the role of women in decision-making, implementation and capacity-building activities; the importance of involving communities and NGOs in implementation; decentralizing implementation and strengthening local government capacities and funding; and the “case” for investing in sanitation. Many delegations also shared their national experiences in providing sanitation services.
On means of implementation, delegates identified the need to:
- ensure culturally- and locally-acceptable capacity-building activities (Indonesia);
- promote education on sanitation, hygiene and water management (G-77/China, Japan, South Africa, US);
- provide information on low-cost and locally-appropriate technologies (Egypt, Iran, G-77/China, South Africa, EU);
- address the limitations of full cost recovery (South Africa, UN-HABITAT);
- target investments based on gaps identified by monitoring (UK);
- provide households with low-cost technology options (Sweden);
- develop flexible cost-effective technologies that take into account population growth (Tanzania);
- ensure debt relief and develop innovative finance mechanisms (South Africa); and
- address trade rules and ensure more and better aid (NGOs).
On policy options, delegates identified the need to:
- ensure coordination of national sanitation policies across ministries (US);
- develop demand-driven sanitation strategies (Australia, UN-HABITAT, US);
- implement the outcomes of the Global WASH Forum (Senegal, the Netherlands, Norway);
- ensure coherent, equitable and transparent subsidization policies that target the poor (Switzerland, UK);
- ensure that sanitation policies take into account rural areas (G-77/China);
- respond to women’s needs, such as privacy and security (Norway, Sweden);
- address the links between household sanitation and security of tenure and land ownership (Sweden, UN-HABITAT);
- ensure that sanitation infrastructure addresses current and future demands (South Africa, Tanzania);
- address donor policies for financing infrastructure in developing countries (Egypt);
- protect watersheds, groundwater resources and near-shore ecosystems (Cuba, Barbados);
- address the adverse impacts of drought on water resources and sanitation services (Algeria, Iran); and
- balance the environmental or social impacts of sanitation measures informally undertaken by slum dwellers with their sanitation needs (Senegal).
On wastewater, delegates addressed the need to:
- overcome prejudices over the use of wastewater (Algeria);
- address solid waste in wastewater treatment plans (Cuba, EU);
- consider the full range of options for industrial wastewater treatment (EU);
- ensure the role of national governments, while acknowledging the importance of decentralization (Republic of Korea); and
- address the environmental impacts of wastewater (Mexico).
On monitoring implementation, delegates addressed the need to:
- focus on the quality of sanitation and water services (Australia);
- use the mass media, grassroots and civil society organizations, as well as city councils, to create awareness (Iran);
- ensure the CSD has effective follow-up mechanisms to monitor progress on meeting JPOI targets (South Africa); and
- use the World Bank’s public expenditure tracking system, as well as community-based performance monitoring schemes (NGOs).
EXPERTS PANEL: This session was chaired by Vice-Chair Shin (Republic of Korea). Presenting key lessons from the second World Urban Forum, María Antonia Trujillo, Spain’s Minister of Housing, highlighted the importance of: land registration and titling; local materials and contractors; women’s legal access to land and inheritance; and training people in situ.
Elliot Sclar, Co-coordinator of the Millennium Project Task Force on Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers, underlined the interlinkages and mutual dependence of policy development and good governance. He stressed the need to move from creating lists of options to making attainable and transformative choices.
Silvia Andere, Public Administrator of the Municipal Urbanization Corporation of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, reviewed experiences in developing, implementing and evaluating public policies for improving housing in the city’s “favelas.” Highlighting lessons learned, she underscored the need to: involve local residents in every stage and aspect of the process; minimize displacement, and when this is not possible, provide choices of new locations; and integrate residents with the local economy and society.
Sylvia Martinez, Senior Advisor of the US Federal Housing Finance Board, shared options for finance strategies aimed at the poor. She emphasized the importance of good legal underpinnings for ownership, acquisition and limited eminent domain. She said different systems of ownership can be accommodated, and that tax incentives can stimulate local capital formation, investment and the development of competitive private banking institutions.
Discussion: In the ensuing discussion, participants addressed issues dealing with evicted populations (Azerbaijan) and controlling land speculation (Bolivia). Australia presented an idea for an internet-based mechanism for sharing lessons on policy integration.
IN THE CORRIDORS
During Tuesday’s discussions on policy options and possible actions for water and sanitation, some delegates were overwhelmed with a sense of déjà vu, with many noting that the debates closely resembled the CSD-12 review session. This déjà vu led some to question the value of the IPM and the rationale for engaging in general debate instead of fast-tracking negotiations. Some were also speculating whether the current levels of debate would lead to the expected Chair’s text being used as the basis of negotiations for the main session in April. Despite this uncertainty, the general debate has created the informal space for several delegations to begin circulating position papers and non-papers outlining their ideas for implementation frameworks, policy options and visions of the outcome of the first policy session. In the words of one seasoned CSD negotiator, the proliferation of informally-circulated text may indeed be providing the perfect incubation space for the manifestation of a substantial outcome of the IPM by Friday.