Water Conferences Focus on Gender, Food and Urban Resilience
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Participants at a two-day conference under the auspices of the Italian Presidency of the G7 discussed water-related principles in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and issued a ‘Declaration of Milan’ emphasizing the human right to water and sanitation and the role of women in protecting and managing water resources.

Following the Milan conference, the second International Conference on Water and Climate addressed themes of food security and urban resilience, as well as water for Africa.

4 October 2017: Water professionals and leaders discussed how principles for managing and governing water can be implemented in relation to food security and resilient cities, at recent meetings in Milan, Italy and Marseilles, France. Participants at a two-day conference under the auspices of the Italian Presidency of the G7 discussed water-related principles in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They issued a ‘Declaration of Milan’ emphasizing the human right to water and sanitation and the role of women in protecting and managing water resources. Following the Milan conference, the second International Conference on Water and Climate took place in Marseilles, France. It addressed the issues of food security and urban resilience, as well as ‘Water for Africa’.

The Milan conference took place from 27-28 September 2017, with scientific support provided by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Water Governance Initiative and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP). The conference, on the theme ‘Rules for Water, Rules for Life,’ was the first such event organized by the Milan Center for Food Law and Policy, and sought to promote interaction and debate across various water-related sectors.

Gian Luca Galletti, Minister of the Environment and Protection of Land and Sea, Italy, opened the meeting. Speakers included Peter Glas, President of the OECD Water Governance Initiative, Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur for the right to food, and Irene Khan, Director-General of the International Development Law Organization (IDLO). The sessions discussed policies for urban water governance, including on water efficiency in a circular economy, ‘smart management’ and regulation of urban water, risk management, and water infrastructure. Participants also discussed risk management in the water-energy-food-environment nexus, and addressed a range of gender issues in water, including jobs, sex-disaggregated data, and inequalities. The conference marked the 25th anniversary of the Dublin Principles, and reiterated the Dublin Principles’ recognition of women as agents of change in water resources management.

The Declaration of Milan emphasizes water and sanitation as human rights requiring the “progressive definition” of a legal framework.

Conference participants issued a seven-point ‘Declaration of Milan,’ which emphasizes water and sanitation as human rights requiring the “progressive definition” of a legal framework. The Declaration notes that governments have the political responsibility to guide sustainable development and the growth of inclusive and circular economies. It also highlights that access to water empowers women, who have a pivotal role in the protection and management of water. The Declaration calls for strengthening the engagement of UN Member States that have signed on to the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially with regard to the strategic role of cities in defending access to safe water and sanitation as a human right.

From 3-4 October, the World Water Council organized the second International Conference on Water and Climate in Marseilles, France. The Government of Morocco, as President of the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP 22), supported the conference through its State Secretariat for Water, in collaboration with international partners. The conference aimed to foster dialogue between the water and climate communities in the lead-up to COP 23, and to maintain water as an important element of the climate talks in November 2017. The conference program focused on water for food, urban resilience and water for Africa in the context of climate change.

After COP 23, a Conference on Water Governance in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and wider Mediterranean region will take place in Barcelona, Spain, from 12-13 December 2017, organized by the Global Water Partnership (GWP) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Water Governance Facility at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). The conference will focus on water governance and financing in the region. [UNESCO Press Release on Milan Conference] [Milan Conference Programme] [Declaration of Milan] [World Water Council Press Release] [Global Water Partnership MENA Conference Web Page] [World Water Council Live Stream of Water and Climate Conference]

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