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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 26 - Friday, 11 October 2013
Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Budapest Water Summit reconvened on Thursday, 10 October. Participants in the main plenary took part in sessions and high-level panel discussions on: good water governance; how to govern water wisely with specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) sustainable development goals (SDGs); green economy for blue water; and what is this green stuff. In the evening, a philanthropy roundtable took place.

In parallel, the Science Forum addressed issues including: universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); is there a sustainable future; green solutions for good quality water; and water quality and SDGs. The Civil Society Forum discussed good water governance and green solutions for good quality water, while the Youth Forum engaged on youth in water governance and green economies. The Business Leaders Forum examined issues including case studies of innovative company solutions for water supply and treatment, and water use management. A panel discussion addressed the contribution of the Business Leaders Forum to the Budapest Statement. Throughout the day, a water and sanitation expo and side events also took place.


GOOD WATER GOVERNANCE: Opening the morning session, Chair Uri Shamir, Professor, Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, introduced the presenters and Rapporteur Joyeeta Gupta, Professor, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Sanjaasuren Oyun, Minister for Nature, Environment and Green Development, Mongolia, shared Mongolia’s water management challenges, including likely impacts from climate change and mining sector water demand. She highlighted management strategies including: a river-basin management model; policies to protect water sources and forests; water tariffs to encourage water recycling; water pollution fees; efforts to upgrade waste water treatment; and surface water transfer to protect an ancient aquifer.

Jean-Pierre Thébault, Ambassador for Environment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France, emphasized the importance of local-level water governance, explaining that political decentralization is the core of democratization and good governance. He underscored that France wants to link defined goals with the best-suited financial instruments. He described good water governance as requiring legitimacy, efficiency and transparency, but cautioned it is a “difficult task.”

Amadou Hama Maiga, Deputy Director General, International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering, Burkina Faso, highlighted that Africa will miss the water and sanitation targets under the Millennium Development Goals. He said a water-related SDG for Africa should mobilize investment, rethink the water and sanitation paradigm, better organize water resources management, and consider sanitation as a business opportunity in local economies.

Shavkat Khamraev, Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Water Management, Uzbekistan, discussed transboundary governance challenges related to the Aral Sea. He reviewed the history of international agreements to address the regional ecological, social and economic crisis, noting implementation under the 3rd Aral Sea Basin Program involves more than 300 projects, and urging more international attention to the issue.

GREEN ECONOMY FOR BLUE WATER: Chair Nguyen Thai Lai, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment, Viet Nam, opened the afternoon session. He introduced Rapporteur Thomas Chiramba, UN Environment Programme, and the presenters.

Sulton Rahimov, First Deputy Minister of Melioration and Water, Tajikistan, observed that water resource use in Central Asia is wasteful due to low efficiency irrigation systems. He noted that hydropower is the major energy source for Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, but negligible for the other three countries of the Aral Sea Basin, and highlighted the potential for increased use in the region.

Stefan Berggren, Ministry of Environment, Sweden, described Sweden’s aim of having “good water status” by 2015. He said systematic and transparent involvement of stakeholders is key for integrated water resources management (IWRM). He stressed that discussions about green growth require understanding and including ecosystem services and their value in global accounting.

Helen Mountford, Deputy Director, Environment Directorate, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), highlighted that, inter alia, global water demand is projected to increase by 55 percent by 2050 and groundwater is being exploited faster than it is replenished. In the context of green growth, she identified three strategies: making pollution more costly than green alternatives; valuing and pricing natural assets and ecosystem services appropriately; and removing environmentally harmful subsidies.

Harish Chandra Singh Rawat, Minister for Water Resources, Government of India, said failure to address unsustainable consumption would lead to treating only the symptoms rather than the cause of resource scarcities and that a green economy approach can be an effective driver of global growth.


HOW TO GOVERN WATER WISELY WITH SMART SDGs?: Moderator Aziza Akhmouch, Head, Water Governance Programme, OECD, opened the panel discussion, highlighting the need to look at good practices and instruments to help governments and public and private partners implement identified solutions.

Ursula Schaefer-Preuss, Chair, Global Water Partnership (GWP), said the water crisis is mainly a governance crisis. She outlined GWP's efforts on governance to include active involvement in transboundary issues, training on international water law, and efforts to reduce corruption.

Uta Wehn de Montalvo, Professor, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Institute for Water Education, said knowledge and capacity issues affect industrialized and developing countries. She observed that capacity development is more than education and training and requires leadership.

Michel Rentenaar, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands, emphasized the need to promote inclusiveness, engage powerful groups that currently bypass water governance, and balance short and long-term needs.

Boleslawa Witmer, Butterfly Effect, observed that involvement of civil society is not only about WASH, emphasizing that organizations working on transboundary issues, governance issues, and disaster relief should be acknowledged and play a role.

Sibylle Vermont, Head Negotiator for International Environmental Policy Water, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, discussed the UN Economic Commission for Europe Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, emphasizing its value as a framework convention to drive further progress.

Ivan Zavadsky, Executive Secretary, International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, described that by “stepping out of the water sector,” Danube countries have agreed on strong policy measures, providing an example of cooperation between the navigation and water sectors.

Márta Szigeti Bonifert, Chair, Management Board, Environment and Security Initiative, stressed the importance of involvement across all sectors to ensure good governance.

Robert Varady, Deputy Director, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, University of Arizona, US, stressed the contribution academics can make and urged creating dialogue between natural and social scientists.

Witmer said the focus should be on formation of real goals at the thematic level, cautioning against the development of targets based only on what currently seems measurable. Vermont stated that having a water SDG will help trigger both political will and financing to address water supply, management and nexus issues.

Zavadsky said balancing conflicting water uses helps countries build trust and confidence. He explained that technical cooperation based on sharing scientific data and analysis allows cooperation and efficiency of measures at the national level.

Vermont stressed the need for the water SDG to address the whole water cycle, rather than just water supply and sanitation.

WHAT IS THIS GREEN STUFF?: Moderator Tom Soo, Executive Director, International Water Resources Association (IWRA), opened the session, emphasizing the inclusion of human wellbeing as central to the concept of green growth.

Paulo Lopes Varella Neto, Director, National Water Agency, Brazil, noted that any SDGs must consider that solutions will vary for different regions and countries.

Doğan Altinbilek, President, IWRA, explained that in the Republic of Korea, green growth is a way of life and is being applied in their development assistance programmes.

Christopher Briggs, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention, highlighted the need for soft or natural infrastructure, such as natural and artificial wetlands, to treat, re-treat and reuse water to ensure stable and resilient ecosystems for people to live in.

Julia Marton-Lefévre, Director General, IUCN, emphasized that natural infrastructure has to be taken into account when deciding the best way of dealing with water needs. She said green growth reminds us nature is essential and provides solutions for sustainable development.

Brice Lalonde, Special Advisor on Sustainable Development, UN Global Compact, considered redefining infrastructure from dams and other “hard” structures to include wetlands, birds, fish, bats, bees and other natural systems. He urged participants to remember that nature must drink as well.

Altinbilek suggested that key components of a water SDG include: universal access to sanitation and drinking water; increased wastewater use; and improved IWRM and water use efficiency.

György Palkó, Veolia Water, said green growth usually means, “do more with less.” He explained that human motivation and expertise is the biggest asset to green growth. Marton-Lefévre stressed bringing nature into the SDGs, saying it provides our life support and is our solution.

During discussions, issues raised included: public-private partnerships and how to leverage the private sector for green growth; the role of employees in shaping companies’ sustainability policies; the need for integrated and systems thinking to address cross-sectoral issues; investment in ecosystems and natural infrastructure; economic valuation of interventions during the planning phase; and development of alternative measures of wellbeing besides gross domestic product.

Thai Lai noted that all panelists stressed the need to appreciate natural services and called for respecting the rights of nature, noting it will provide what we need if we do.


Moderator László Pintér, Professor, Central European University, Hungary, identified three elements important to philanthropy for water: significant investment; technical, social and governance innovation; and dedication over the long term.

Ned Breslin, CEO, Water for People, US, stressed moving from short-term to long-term outcomes, monitoring for improvement, and financing that seeks to be catalytic not permanent. He said monitoring should avoid “data puke” and shift from efforts focused on pleasing donors towards monitoring to improve programmes.

Rachel Leon, Executive Director, Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA), US, said the EGA is a group of more than 200 foundations that represents about 6 percent of US philanthropy. She noted members’ funding of water-related programmes had doubled by 2011 from previous years, but that international grant making has decreased from 2010 to 2011, and stressed the need for a global focus.

Michael McGovern, Vice Chair, Rotary Foundation, US, described the Rotary Foundation’s polio eradication campaign, highlighting the importance of partnerships to achieve large objectives.

Runa Khan, Executive Director, Friendship Foundation, Bangladesh, explained their three-tier system: need; simplicity; and total respect for the environment. She said they have a “risk-sharing system,” working on community, rather than individual welfare.

Christian Wiebe, Viva Con Agua, Germany, described a youth-focused philanthropic approach that uses modern methods to raise support for clean drinking water for people in developing countries.

Hafiz Sherali, Aga Khan Foundation, Pakistan, discussed their projects in Pakistan, noting the importance of mobilizing communities, engaging women as agents of change and addressing long standing water rights conflicts.

Describing the fecal sludge management crisis in urban environments, Brian Arbogast, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, US, stressed the need for greater focus on sanitation.

Mahamandaleshwar Paramhans Swami Maheswarananda, S.M. World Peace Council, India, described several “rainfall harvesting” projects, including construction of a man-made lake and providing community members with a tin roof to capture rainwater.

Hugo Barreto, CEO, and Andrea Margit, Roberto Marinho Foundation, Brazil, described efforts to promote capacity building for better water management.

Kemi Seesink, Global Water Initiative, US, highlighted the work of The Howard G. Buffett Foundation. She emphasized the need to bring in new partners, create flexible problem-solving approaches and opportunities, and described a focus on women smallholder farmers to improve global food security.

Rebecca Tharme, The Nature Conservancy, US, described the efforts of the Great Rivers Partnership, to find basin-level “shared water solutions” for, inter alia, hydropower development, sustainable agriculture and floodplain flood-risk management.

During the panel discussion, panelists broadly discussed: how to recognize and learn when projects do not succeed; the challenge of inequality when working through inclusive processes; the role of philanthropy in creating partnerships for holistic programmes; and challenges associated with current risk aversion in philanthropy.

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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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