The opening plenary of World Water Week featured a lecture by Stockholm Water Prize Laureate Rajendra Singh, and a statement on 'Raising the profile of water in the global climate discourse' by Manuel Pulgar-Vidal Otálora, President of the COP 20 to the UNFCCC.
A high-level panel discussion also took place, featuring: Gina Casar, UN Development Programme (UNDP); Adnan Amin, Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA); Héla Cheikhrouhou, Executive Director, Green Climate Fund (GCF); Barbara Frost, Chief Executive, WaterAid; and Laura Barneby, Unilever.
24 August 2015: World Water Week, organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), marks its silver jubilee in Stockholm, Sweden, with a focus on water for development. SIWI notes that, although considerable progress has been made towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the targets to achieve improved access to key basic services during the first 15 years of this century will not be fully reached. It adds that about one billion people worldwide still lack access to safe water, and a higher number lack access to basic sanitation.
At the opening plenary on 24 August 2014, President Christopher Loeak of the Marshall Islands, stressed the importance of reaching an ambitious climate agreement at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, France, stressing that his country is “contemplating a future where we are literally being wiped off the map of the world.”
Prime Minister Stefan Löfven of Sweden outlined three major challenges in water management: growing water scarcity; impacts on the poor and vulnerable; and the risk of water-related conflict and war. He assured President Loeak that Sweden shares the quest for a global, fair and legally binding agreement that keeps global warming as far below as 2°C as possible, adding that “a strong deal” at the climate change conference in Paris is crucial for a stable and predictable global water system.
Prime Minister of Jordan Abdullah Ensour highlighted the impact of the Syrian refugee influx to Jordan on the country’s water resources and infrastructure, noting that Jordan’s access to water is only 145 m³ per capita annually, far below the internationally-recognized water poverty line of 1,000 m³ per capita annually. He highlighted the signing of an memorandum of understanding (MOU) earlier in 2015 among Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians to begin the first phase of the World Bank-supported Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Program, highlighting Jordan’s role in building a desalination plant that will sell some freshwater to Israel in exchange for equivalent water volumes from Lake Tiberius. He noted that Arab States face a trebling of their water deficit by 2030, which he said will cost around US$300-400 billion to address.
The opening plenary of World Water Week featured a lecture by Stockholm Water Prize Laureate Rajendra Singh, and a statement on ‘Raising the profile of water in the global climate discourse’ by Manuel Pulgar-Vidal Otálora, President of the COP 20 to the UNFCCC. A high-level panel discussion also took place, featuring: Gina Casar, UN Development Programme (UNDP); Adnan Amin, Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA); Héla Cheikhrouhou, Executive Director, Green Climate Fund (GCF); Barbara Frost, Chief Executive, WaterAid; and Laura Barneby, Unilever.
The Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) organizes World Water Week annually. To mark the 2015 event, SIWI launched a report on ‘Water for Development: Charting a Water-Wise Path.’ The report, a compilation of articles by leading academics and practitioners, discusses integrating water management in disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts, as well as in the framework of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in efforts to adapt to and mitigate climate change. The report highlights the need to build resilient societies and secure functioning ecosystems through means such as incentive schemes and water pricing. The authors note that “the real challenge” will begin in 2016, when the international community builds on the global decisions taken in 2015, including those on climate, DRR and the post-2015 development agenda.
World Water Week in 2015 involves over 3,000 practitioners, policy makers and business people from 143 countries. The event is also an occasion for awarding several water prizes. On 23 August, CH2M, a global service and engineering company, was awarded the Stockholm Industry Water Award in recognition of its work in water treatment and increasing the public acceptance of recycled water. On 26 August, Rajendra Singh will formally receive the Stockholm Water Prize for his work in improving water security in rural India. [World Water Week Programme] [SIWI Press Release] [Opening Plenary Webcast] [Prime Minister of Sweden’s Statement] [Prime Minister of Jordan’s Statement] [World Bank Web Page on Red Sea–Dead Sea Water Conveyance Study Program] [Publication: Water for Development: Charting a Water-Wise Path]