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A Daily Report of the Budapest Water Summit

Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in collaboration with the State Secretariat for Environment Affairs, Ministry of Rural Development of Hungary

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Volume 82 Number 25 - Thursday, 10 October 2013
Wednesay, 9 October 2013

The Budapest Water Summit reconvened on Wednesday, 9 October. In the main plenary the Summit continued with sessions and high-level panels on: striving for universal access to water and sanitation; how to accomplish water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); integrated water resources management (IWRM) for the 21st century; and how to serve a growing population with water in a changing climate. In the evening a special high-level session addressed the water-energy-food nexus.

In parallel, the Science Forum addressed the issues of IWRM and good water governance, while the Civil Society Forum discussed IWRM. The Youth Forum opened with the construction of a water sculpture and discussed WASH. The Business Forum discussed global water trends from a business point of view, urban case studies, multipurpose use of water resources and water recycling, and complex watershed rehabilitation. A water and sanitation expo and side events took place throughout the day. 


STRIVING FOR UNIVERSAL ACCESS TO WATER AND SANITATION: On Wednesday morning, session Chair Bai Mass Taal, Executive Secretary, African Ministers’ Council on Water, introduced Rapporteur Themba Gumbo, Director, Cap-Net, Zimbabwe, and opened the session.

Cai Qihua, Vice-Minister of Water Resources, China, noted that China is more than six years ahead of schedule for meeting the safe drinking water target under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and has invested in schistosomiasis prevention and non-hazardous sanitary toilets. She identified water and sanitation issues as the major factor restricting growth, suggested greater attention for these issues in the post-2015 development agenda, and proposed a separate sustainable development goal (SDG) on water and sanitation.

Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Heath Organization, called for multi-disciplinary approaches, explaining that the health sector alone cannot improve WASH services. She lamented that the limited political power of women means some of the most powerful advocates for WASH have no voice. She underscored that improving WASH should be seen as a “pro-poor strategy on a grand scale.” She concluded that prevention is the heart of public health, equity its soul, and access to WASH is the life-blood of good health for all.

Ravi Narayanan, Chair, Asia-Pacific Water Forum Governing Council, stressed that in the face of water challenges characterized by interdependence and complexity, it is necessary to recognize tradeoffs and interactions between interventions in the water sector, which can cause unintended future consequences. He called for focus on four areas: reversing the inequality calamity; boosting water productivity, cleaning up Asia’s freshwater resources; and building resilience to disasters. He observed that addressing these areas necessitates transforming governance, and called for harnessing the power of youth, science and governments.

Mass Taal closed the session emphasizing the need to integrate science and policy to create a coherent message on WASH to input into the post-2015 development agenda process.

IWRM FOR THE 21ST CENTURY: Opening the afternoon session, Chair Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiya, Executive Chairman, Qatar National Food Security Programme, called for a more effective approach to tackling the global imperative of IWRM.

Pavel Kabat, Director, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, noted broad consensus among world leaders that water is a game-changer for sustainability, but found inconsistency in practice. He described projected impacts including, inter alia: community displacement due to higher salinity levels in upstream systems; decreased available groundwater withdrawals; and higher freshwater temperatures affecting fish spawning and farming. He cautioned that technological solutions such as desalination will require robust solutions to be feasible outside capital-rich countries, and said real progress will require trans-sectoral and multidisciplinary systems thinking.

Charles Vörösmarty, Professor, City University of New York, US, described classes of threat, inter alia: pollution; maladaptive management practices; and biotic stress agents. He claimed research shows little evidence for broad adoption of, or positive impacts from IWRM, noting that byproducts of “sloppy development” present the greatest threats. He concluded: the integrity of the environment is essential to sustainability; with the rise of the middle class we need a prevention approach; and partnership with the private sector is required.

Kuniyoshi Takeuchi, Director, International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management, Japan, called for an SDG addressing water-related disaster risk reduction. He said water is life but it is also a threat to life, highlighting the outputs of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment Report Summary for Policy Makers, which found water-related disasters have likely increased. He noted the transboundary impacts of disasters and increased risk posed by climate change. He suggested an SDG to “halve the population exposed to high disaster risk of hydro-hazards below a ten-year return period,” emphasizing the importance of monitoring for implementation, and outlining methodologies for monitoring disaster risk and preparedness.


HOW TO WASH?: The morning high-level panel was introduced by Moderator Johan Kuylenstierna, Executive Director, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Sweden. Djoko Kirmanto, Minister of Public Works, Indonesia, and Chew Men Leong, Chief Executive, PUB, Singapore, highlighted their countries’ water management objectives, including their tariff and pricing schemes, and regulatory frameworks.

Katariina Poskiparta, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland, called for: political commitment and increased investments on sanitation and wastewater treatment; new ways of thinking and behavior; and improved public sector regulatory frameworks.

Trevor Balzer, Acting Director-General, Department of Water Affairs, South Africa, highlighted that the human right to water and protection of ecosystem flows are enshrined in the South African Constitution.

Catarina de Albuquerque, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, stressed the need for a Specifc, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely SDG that takes WASH as a human right into account and integrates issues of quality, accessibility and affordability.

Observing that one billion people still practice open defecation while six billion have mobile phones, Martin Mogwanja, Deputy Executive Director, UN Children’s Fund, said that sustaining access to services remains a huge challenge, advocating universal access to WASH, with a heightened focus on the poorest populations.

Gérard Payen, Member, UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, and President, AquaFed, advocated a global goal on water but expressed concerns about water safety, underscoring the need to urgently build a global mechanism for monitoring water safety, operational by 2016.

Robert Burtscher, Senior Advisor on Water and Sanitation, Austrian Development Agency, explained the ADA is concerned about the bottom billion, and called for a nexus approach with water, energy and food security, saying they are “one side of the same coin.”

During discussions, panelists addressed how to reach the bottom billion, noting in part that it is a question of will, provision of services to informal settlements, action by the international community in the case of civil strife or disasters and their associated population displacements, elimination of barriers to provision of services by operators, and bottom-up approaches to water development.

They also called for: capacity-building for community-based development; engaging civil society and stakeholders; ensuring the sustainability of achievements; getting governance conditions right; and balancing sustainability of WASH interventions with sustainability of water resources.

They said a water-specific SDG should stress: access to water that is “really safe”; inclusion of the most marginalized; inequality reduction; access to reliable water supply of sufficient quality; water security and equitable and reasonable use of transboundary water resources; WASH for all; water re-use and water recycling; and the nexus between water, energy and agriculture.

Mass Taal closed the session underscoring the imperative of convincing political leaders to prioritize access to water and asking how long we can stand by watching people die from lack of access to WASH.

HOW TO SERVE A GROWING POPULATION WITH WATER IN A CHANGING CLIMATE?: In the afternoon, Moderator János Bogárdi, Professor, University of Bonn, Germany, introduced the high-level panel.

Veysel Eroğlu, Minister of Forestry and Water, Turkey, described Istanbul’s response to a serious water shortage in 1994 amidst rapid population increase and immigration. Effective actions he identified include: an inter-basin water transfer project; advanced wastewater treatment systems for illegal settlement areas; and water savings and efficiency measures.

Benedito Braga, President, World Water Council, said water is key to climate change adaptation. He underscored the need to increase water storage infrastructure, cautioning infrastructure has to be well managed. He stated dams are often necessary for coping with drought.

Stephan Auer, Director, Multilateral Relations and Global Issues, European External Action Service, outlined an EU strategy for water diplomacy based on, inter alia: building on past experience; focusing on priority areas; promoting international water conventions; and creating partnerships to enhance water cooperation across borders.

László Somlyódy, Member, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, said there have been “tremendous developments” in computer technology for detecting water contamination. He identified prevention as the key and recommended keeping the precautionary principle in mind.

Michel Jarraud, Secretary General, World Meteorological Organization, and Chair, UN-Water, highlighted the need to reverse the degradation of information networks, stressing that given climate change, the past is no longer a good predictor of the future.

Ida Margrete Meier Auken, Minister for the Environment, Denmark, identified the need for a water-related SDG to generate political attention and investments. She emphasized the importance of water efficiency as part of the solution, giving examples of water pricing, water reuse, and industrial symbiosis where one company uses waste products of another.

Considering the issue of food security, Apichart Anukularmphai, President, Thailand Water Resources Association, suggested that many water resource problems are human-caused and that his country’s focus on trying to be the “kitchen of the world” may have had unintended consequences, such as watershed degradation and flooding.

Ján Ilavský, State Secretary, Minister of Environment, Slovak Republic, said that knowledge is key to reducing uncertainty and underscored the importance of forests in water management, explaining forests are the best catchment of water.

In closing, Al-Attiya, noted the impact of ground water extraction and highlighted the importance of “localizing solutions.”


Moderator Fritz Holzwarth, Deputy Director-General, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Germany, opened this evening panel and introduced Rapporteur Holger Hoff, Senior Research Fellow, SEI.

Paul Oquist Kelley, Minister and Private Secretary of National Policies, Nicaragua, described elements of his country’s micro-macro strategy, including financing and cooperatives for small-scale producers and development of hydrological resources for energy production.

Roberto Lenton, Director, Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute, University of Nebraska, US, agreed that the nexus must go beyond individual sectors to look at synergies and trade-offs.

Avinash Tyagi, Secretary General, International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage, stressed the importance of building resilience into irrigation systems to protect against climate change shocks that affect food production.

Mohamed Ait-Kadi, Chair, Technical Committee, Global Water Partnership, said the nexus invites reconsideration of the development paradigm, cautioning it has degrees of contextualization and differentiation and should not be promoted as a formula. He concluded that IWRM and the nexus reinforce each other.

Mohammed Ibrahim Al Saud, Deputy Minister for Water Affairs, Ministry of Water and Electricity, Saudi Arabia, underscored the connection between energy and water, emphasizing the need for increased renewable energy use in the agriculture sector.

Explaining there are many opportunities for science to contribute, Richard Lawford, Morgan State University, US, questioned whether national or basin levels are better information interfaces. He explained that earth observations and modeling capabilities provide reliable datasets for use in baseline planning.

Reza Ardakanian, Director, UN University Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and Resources, said the SDGs will help enhance public awareness and demand for an integrated approach.

Alexander Verbeek, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands, reiterated the importance of science, and the use of satellite data to provide cross-sectoral linkages.

During discussion, panelists considered how to change mindsets, saying the challenges include teaching people to recognize nexus linkages, capacity building for policy makers, and developing new institutional arrangements that transcend sectoral boundaries.

On institutional arrangements, they noted inter alia: the absence of recognition within the food sector of embedded energy and water costs; the critical need for funding; and that water challenges may best be addressed through energy policy.

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The Budapest Water Summit Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <[email protected]>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <[email protected]>. This issue was written and edited by Alice Miller, Teya Penniman, and Anna Schulz. The Digital Editor is Asheline Appleton. The Editor is Robynne Boyd <[email protected]>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <[email protected]>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the State Secretariat for Environment Affairs, Ministry of Rural Development of Hungary. 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 <[email protected]>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, New York 10022, USA. The IISD Team at the Budapest Water Summit can be contacted by e-mail at <[email protected]>.
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