Category Archives: Water Events

2013 Budapest Water Summit (Oct. 8 – 11, 2013)

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Organised by: Government of Hungary in collaboration with the World Water Council and UNESCO

Theme: The Role of Water and Sanitation in the Global Sustainable Development Agenda

The objective of this high-level summit is to take stock of the various developments, in and outside the UN system, in preparing water-related goals for the post Rio+20 development agenda. The expected outcome is one overarching SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on water and sanitation that corresponds and responds to multidimensional challenges.

Topics:

  • Striving for universal access to water and sanitation
  • Integrated water resources management for the 21st century
  • Good water governance
  • Green economy for blue water
  • Investment in and financing of the implementation of a water and sanitation SDG

Programme

  • Plenary
  • Sessions
    • Striving for universal access to water and sanitation
    • High-level panel discussion: How to WASH?
    • Integrated water resources management for the 21st century
    • High-level panel discussion:  How to serve a growing population with water in a changing climate?
    • High-Level Water/Energy/Food Nexus Evening Panel
    • Good water governance
    • High-level panel discussion: How to govern water wisely with SMART SDGs?
    • Green economy for blue water
    • High-level panel discussion: What is this green stuff?
    • Investment in and financing of the implementation of a water and sanitation SDG
    • High-level panel discussion: Does money matter?
    • Joint plenary session (afternoon): reporting the outcomes of the five Summit sessions and the stakeholder Forums and Meetings, synthesis, conclusions and recommendations for the water SDGs
  • Closing ceremony
  • Parallel stakeholder meetings
    • Science Forum
    • Youth Forum
    • Civil Society Forum
    • Business Leaders Forum and Expo
    • Philanthropy Roundtable

(Source: International Water and Sanitation Centre)

Direct Link: http://www.budapestwatersummit.hu/

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World Water Week in Stockholm (Sept. 1 – 5, 2013)

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Organised by: Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) in collaboration with Global Water Partnership (GWP), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and WWF

Theme: In line with the 2013 United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation, the theme for this year’s World Water Week is “Water Cooperation – building partnerships”.

The World Water Week has been one of the largest annual global water events since its start in 1991. In 2012 it attracted over 2,500 persons from 120 countries.

Events include plenaries, workshops, seminars, an exhibition, field visits and side events. In addition, the following award ceremonies will take place: Stockholm Water Prize, Stockholm Junior Water Prize, and the Stockholm Industry Water Award.

Workshop topics:

  • Science and art of water cooperation
  • The human rights-based approach to cooperation
  • Bridging land/water/ecosystem divides
  • Cooperation across and within jurisdictions and levels for good water governance – local to global
  • Linking science, practice and policy under increasing complexity and uncertainty
  • Cooperation for sustainable benefits and financing of water programmes
  • Transboundary water cooperation – external and internal drivers
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation – promoting coherence

(Source: International Water and Sanitation Centre)

Direct Link: http://www.worldwaterweek.org/

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UNECE Workshop Discusses Transboundary Water Cooperation

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June 14, 2013 (Los Angeles, USA)

14 June 2013: A workshop organized by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) brought together some 100 experts from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) to discuss how the region might benefit from the experience and lessons learned in transboundary water cooperation from the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention).

The ‘Workshop on transboundary water cooperation: Latin American and Pan-European regions: sharing experiences and learning from each other’ convened from 11-12 June 2013, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The workshop featured an exchange of experience between the regions on water-related topics, including adaptation to climate change, reconciling different uses in transboundary basins, and how to promote cooperation and avoid disputes involving transboundary ground and surface waters. Participants also discussed current efforts within LAC to address transboundary water cooperation, such as the Intergovernmental Coordinating Committee for the La Plata River Basin and the Guarani Aquifer Agreement.

Workshop participants also discussed the possible benefits of becoming parties to the Water Convention. Mexico and the Central American countries expressed particular interest in understanding further how Water Convention ratification might provide a framework for their subregional cooperation.

The workshop was co-sponsored by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), with cooperation from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network (IW:LEARN), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Most attendees were from Central and South America, although representatives from Haiti and the Dominican Republic attended to gain understanding of how Convention membership might help them in managing water resources along their common border.

(Source: http://climate-l.iisd.org/news/unece-workshop-discusses-transboundary-water-cooperation-in-lac/)

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What Does It Take to Cooperate? New Tools for Transboundary Water Cooperation

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April 11, 2013 (Washington, D.C., USA)

Experts from USAID, the U.S. Department of State, World Bank, United Nations Development Program, Stimson Center, Global Environment Facility, and Stockholm International Water Institute described the opportunities and challenges surrounding international water cooperation. (Woodrow Wilson Center)

Water is the foundation of human society and will become even more critical as population growth, development, and climate change put pressure on already-shrinking water resources in the years ahead. But will this scarcity fuel conflict between countries with shared waters, as some have predicted, or will it create more impetus for cooperation?

At the Wilson Center on April 11, experts from USAID, the U.S. Department of State, World Bank, United Nations Development Program, Stimson Center, Global Environment Facility, and Stockholm International Water Institute described the opportunities and challenges surrounding international water cooperation.

Not Conflict, But Stress and Tension

Aaron Salzberg, special coordinator for water resources in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, noted that while water can be a source of tension, countries historically tend to cooperate rather than fight over it. But water-related problems, including shortages and issues related to quality and food availability, can exacerbate already-existing tensions and distract countries from working on other priorities.

Many major water basins like the Nile and the Indus are now “closed,” said David Michel, director of the Environmental Security Program at the Stimson Center. That is, all of their water has been allocated for human and ecosystem use. If too much water is used, quality can diminish to the point where it is unusable even for industrial purposes. But demand in these regions – both through population increases and changes in usage – is still increasing, adding pressure to at- or above-capacity systems. The tight margins in these basins means that the stakes are higher for riparian countries and there is less room to maneuver in treaty negotiations.

Some of these basins support more than their local populations, said Anders Jagerskog, head of the Transboundary Water Management Unit at the Stockholm International Water Institute. Foreign investors are buying land, especially in Africa, to grow food and biofuels, he said. These land contracts often don’t include rules on allocation of water, leaving investors free to pump as much local water as they can. Jagerskog said that these “land grabs” can put additional pressure on already contentious transboundary water systems like the Nile.

Untapped Waterways of Africa

In Africa, water is the medium through which extreme events are filtered, said Gustavo Saltiel, program manager of the Africa Water Resources Unit of the World Bank. Droughts and floods put tension on people and countries’ economies and this tension can be translated to international negotiations over access. With the types of effects being seen in Africa related to climate change, there may be higher tensions around transboundary water rights than in the past.

Alongside agriculture, more water will be needed to support burgeoning urban populations in Africa. Fortunately, the continent has great untapped hydropower reserves, said Saltiel. Less than 10 percent of Africa’s hydropower resources have been exploited, compared with over 70 percent in Europe and North America. But cooperation – and treaties – between riparian countries will be needed to develop this potential equitably and safely.

Making Treaties More Comprehensive and Responsive

Two-thirds of international water basins don’t have water-sharing agreements, said Jagerskog. And some of the agreements that are in place are not comprehensive, Michel followed up. He pointed to the famous1960 Indus Water Treaty, which has survived three wars between India and Pakistan, but does not actually include two basin countries – Afghanistan and China. Many agreements are “static,” said Jagerskog, not taking into account changes in water availability or politics. A more holistic and responsive approach to developing water sharing treaties is needed, he said.

Andrew Hudson, head of the United Nations Development Program’s Water and Ocean Governance Program, said that the lack of coverage for the majority of basins is “illuminating.” He noted that the majority of large, well-known basins like the Nile River have water distribution frameworks in place. Smaller rivers are not as well covered and may still be at high risk for conflict, he said.

Hudson also outlined the current international legal framework for transboundary rivers, which is based on two UN conventions: the UN Watercourses Convention and a convention initially established by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). As the UNECE convention expands, the two treaties as a package could be “mutually reinforcing,” he said.

In regions completely lacking governance of shared waters, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) brings people together to build the foundational capacity for cooperation, said Christian Severin, a senior environmental specialist and program manager. The ultimate goal is to establish strategic action plans and transformational change, but getting people in the same room is the first step, he said. In addition to looking broadly at basins of all size around the world, the GEF works to update existing agreements to allow countries to better cope with institutional change. New agreements will also take into account the water-energy nexus to distribute water among stakeholders with competing interests.

Information Helps, But Political Process Crucial

Moving forward, Michel emphasized the need for more data. Misunderstandings and myths surrounding water usage and availability are often the source of tension, said Salzberg. Collecting and communicating accurate information improves decisions and creates more engaged stakeholders.

But Michel also warned that while more and better information can aid decision-makers, it will rarely provide them with perfect answers – at some point tradeoffs will likely have to be made, which is the job of politicians, not engineers.

Saltiel drew on an example of a transboundary agreement that highlighted these types of tradeoffs. During the construction of a recently-completed hydropower plant on the Kagera River, which flows through Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania and supplies electricity to all three countries, Burundi lobbied for an option that would maximize energy production but displace 50,000 people in Rwanda. In the end, the countries compromised, and only 900 people were displaced. But that decision needed to be made through the political process.

Cynthia Brady, senior conflict advisor for the Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation at USAID, suggested that one way to moderate these tensions is to incorporate the points of view of all stakeholders, including grassroots organizations and civil society. She said it is crucial to balance both the technical and political solutions to maximize the benefit and minimize the harm of agreements and infrastructure projects.

(Source: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/event/what-does-it-take-to-cooperate-new-tools-for-transboundary-water-cooperation)

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Infographic: The Secret Life of Drinking Water

Water scarcity will be one of the defining features of the 21st century. The U.N. predicts that by 2025 two thirds of the world’s population will suffer water shortages. Here CNN takes a look at what we do with the water we can drink. 

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