31 October 2019
Budapest Water Summit Considers Options to Prevent Water Crises
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Sessions addressed themes that included the prevention of water crises, valuation of water versus the costs of a water crisis, mass migration, and investment in water infrastructure.

An outcome document titled, 'Budapest Appeal,' identifies priority areas on water security and outlines concrete recommendations and solutions for governments to consider at relevant international fora.

The third Budapest Water Summit (BWS 2019) convened under the theme, ‘Preventing Water Crises,’ with discussants focusing on how to prevent emerging water crises and manage them when they cannot be averted. Speakers identified related gaps in knowledge, governance, technology, finance, regulations and institutions, and considered the linkages between SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation and the other Sustainable Development Goals. 

In the high-level opening remarks, the Earth Negotiations Bulletin highlights that János Áder, President of Hungary, stressed that technologies are needed to mitigate and adapt to emerging water crises. Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, called for building a global, transparent and harmonized political architecture to mobilize all stakeholders, enhancing coordination under the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, and increasing public investments and incentives for innovative business models.

In a video message, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, underscored that scaling up solutions for water challenges would be critical to achieving the SDGs. Gilbert Houngbo, UN-Water Chair and President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), called for a transformational shift in how we value water and emphasized the need for data to inform decision making and integrated governance approaches.

Under the patronage of the President of Hungary and former Member of the High-Level Panel on Water (HLPW), János Áder, the Government of Hungary hosted the Summit. BWS 2019 brought together approximately 2,500 participants from 118 countries, who came together in sessions addressing the: prevention of water crises; valuation of water versus the costs of a water crisis; economically rational behavior during a water crisis; mass migration; investment in water infrastructure; technology; science; implementation; transboundary water affairs; and institutional architecture. Side events and the ‘Digital and Nature-based Sustainable Solutions Expo’ took place in parallel to the Summit.

The Summit’s key outcome document, titled ‘Budapest Appeal,’ identifies priority areas on water security and outlines concrete recommendations and solutions for governments to consider at relevant international fora, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the 2021 World Water Forum, and the UN High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). The BWS 2019 Budapest Appeal recommends six areas to address with regard to implementation: 

  • Develop cooperation at all levels, through such actions as ensuring timely, transparent and accessible data and invoking the approach of “Nothing About Us Without Us”; 
  • Strengthen the role and capacity of institutions through, inter alia, ensuring gender balance and multi-stakeholder involvement, and rethinking the role of UN institutions in relation to water; 
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing at all levels on the science, management, impacts, and institutional arrangements for agreements on water; 
  • Build capacities through education, vocational training, and reviving local and indigenous traditional knowledge; 
  • Encourage a radical reorientation of financing flows by, inter alia, taking account of water-related risks in all investments and programmes, developing economic valuation approaches to deal with trade-offs and the “hidden” water- stranded assets, and targeting subsidies towards those most in need; and 
  • Frame every development policy with the environment in mind, taking into consideration the trade-offs, multiple interests and spillover effects with “life cycle” approaches.

BWS 2019 took place from 15-17 October 2019, in Budapest, Hungary. [ENB coverage of BWS 2019]

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