Under the leadership of AfDB Africa actively prepares for the Fifth World Water Forum (Istanbul, March 2009)
The 5th World Water Forum (WWF) will take place from March 16-22, 2009 in Istanbul, Turkey. Under the leadership of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa is actively preparing its participation to this important event.
The Forum is the largest multi-stakeholder process among the water community. It will involve several thousands of stakeholders from a great variety of situations, cultures, perspectives, and responsibilities. The Forum’s objectives are to use the political, thematic and regional processes to raise the importance of water on the political agenda, to deepen discussions towards solving international water issues, formulating concrete proposals, and generating political commitment.
The Forum has adopted six major themes, namely:
- Global Change and Risk Management
- Advancing Human Development and the Millennium Development Goals
- Managing and Protecting Water Resources and their Supply Systems to meet Human and Environmental Needs
- Governance and Management
- Education, Knowledge and Capacity Development.
Africa participation to the WWF: concrete outcomes have been achieved
For Africa, the series of past Forums have created awareness of Africa’s water challenges, secured an increasing political commitment, galvanized regional collaboration and enhanced global partnerships. For example, at 2nd World Water Forum at The Hague in 2000, Africa Day launched the Africa Water Vision, 2025. At the 3rd Forum in Kyoto in 2003, Africa Day focused on a common Africa Strategy towards the Millennium Development Targets for water and sanitation and water for other productive uses. Africa Day at the 4th Forum in Mexico emphasized local action for local challenges.
Preparation is vital to achieving a successful Forum and, most importantly, the outcomes that will influence action on water for years to come. This is why the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), the World Water Council and the 5th WWF Secretariat have invited the African Development Bank to act as the Regional Coordinator for Africa and to organize and lead the region’s participation at the 5th Forum. The Bank has accepted this request and has commenced the preparatory process for an effective participation by Africa.
"The aim of the Africa preparatory process is to mobilize actors to act as a catalyst for specific African contributions to the Forum; to contribute to the thematic process by providing their region’s perspectives on the issues and on the priority actions required, and to contribute to the political process through political mobilization", says Tefera Woudeneh, Chief Water Operations Officer at AfDB.
The first step in the African preparatory process for Istanbul has been a regional ‘kick-off’ workshop, held at Hotel Africa, Tunis, Tunisia on 8-9th August, 2008.
Participants included 28 key stakeholders including representatives from AMCOW, African Development Bank, UN-Water/Africa, NEPAD, Regional Economic Commissions, representatives of civil society and local government networks and technical programs. Representatives from the Secretariat of the 5th World Water Forum and the World Water Council also attended the event. The Chairman of AMCOW-TAC and the Regional Coordinator designated by the Bank co-chaired the kick-off workshop. The workshop was opened by Mr. F. Kwesiga representing the Mr. Rakotobe, Director of OWAS and AWF. Brief statements were made from AMCOW, UN-Water/Africa, the 5th World Water Forum Secretariat and NEPAD.
African High Level Objectives for WWF
For Africa, the intent at WWF is to influence water-policy making at a local, regional, national and global level. The overarching theme of Istanbul is ‘Bridging Divides’. In an African context, this means closing gaps between:
- The MDG targets and the outstanding ‘unserved’
- Water users and water managers, especially in the areas of health, energy, climate, food developments
- Expanding and rehabilitating Africa’s infrastructure base
- Fostering cooperation on transboundary water resources management
- Closing gaps in finance
- Bringing together different initiatives with similar aims
- Strengthening capacity and management skills
- Sharing knowledge and experience and improving information exchange
- Multi-stakeholder dialogue and participation.
Participants reached agreement that, the Africa Regional Position Paper being the main vehicle for influence and follow-up actions; it is important to ensure that the Paper gave greater clarity in the expressions of detailed implementation plans and needs of the outcomes of the Head Sates and Government Sharm El-Sheikh Commitment for the Accelerating the Achievement of Water and Sanitation Goals in Africa. The Regional Position Paper carries important messages for follow-up processes, in terms of: what Africa is doing and where support is most needed.
Participants saw the greatest value of African participation at the 5th World Water Forum in securing greater commitments and greater cooperation in IMPLEMENTATION of various projects/programs aimed at reaching MDG targets in the field of water and sanitation and the desired water security objectives in line with the Africa Water Vision 2025.
A comprehensive series of next steps has been adopted, including other workshops so as to optimize African contributions to WWF and ensure that event includes a balance representation of African perspectives and issues.