Tuesday, August 28, 2012

World Water Week

Water and its links to development, peace and conflict was highlighted Monday when delegates from over 130 countries gathered for the annual World Water Week.

Keynote speakers included Swedish International Development Cooperation Minister Gunilla Carlsson and Rejoice Mabudafhasi, South African Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, who both touched on the linkage between climate and development issues.

Mabudafhasi later reminded reporters how women in rural areas and girls often have to walk long distances to collect water. This task can disrupt girls' schooling and has other impacts on women's ability to participate in society.

Former chief UN mediator in the Darfur conflict, veteran Swedish diplomat Jan Eliasson, recounted his experiences of how water and water scarcity came into play in the troubled region in Sudan with desertification, poisoned wells and displacement of pastoral people.

Displaying a glass of tap water, Eliasson said "this is a luxury for 800-900 million people in the world. It's a dream."

Eliasson - who now chairs the Swedish branch of the aid agency WaterAid Sweden - cited another dismal statistic that 4,000 to 5,000 children die daily due to the lack of clean water or over water-borne diseases.

Scores of seminars were also scheduled during the conference that has the overriding theme "accessing water for the common good" and where scores of organizations present findings and studies.

The winner of the 2009 Stockholm Water Prize, used his lecture to urge delegates to act.

"Only talking about the problem will not solve the problem," said Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of the Sulabh Sanitation Movement in India.

Later this week Pathak is to accept the 150,000-dollar prize. He is credited with improving sanitation across India and converting the waste into energy.

Pathak is credited with developing a simple twin pit, pour-flush toilet system used in more than 1.2 million residences and buildings.

It has since been distributed to countries in both Asia and Africa.

Like other speakers Patahk discussed the need for cooperation between countries on water issues, noting how his native India had 16 per cent of the global population, 4 per cent of the world's water and 3 per cent of the land.

Possible conflict over water was also discussed by contributors to a report on trans-boundary water produced by the Stockholm International Water Institute, which organizes the meeting.

Co-author David Grey, who works as a water advisor for the World Bank in South Asia and Africa, said "no war is fought over a single issue," but that water could be a factor in conflicts.

The Stockholm Water Prize was created in 1990 to recognize achievements in water science, water management, water action or awareness building. 

About the World Water Week
in Stockholm

World Water Week is hosted and organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and takes place each year in Stockholm. The World Water Week has been the annual focal point for the globe's water issues since 1991. Join us!

World Water Week niche and theme

Each year the World Water Week addresses a particular theme to enable a deeper examination of a specific water-related topic. While not all events during the week relate to the overall theme, the workshops driven by the Scientific Programme Committee and many seminars and side events do focus on various aspects of the theme. The themes change each year, but each fits within a broader "niche" that covers several years. The grouping of
themes within a niche is designed to develop a long-term perspective on a broad yet significant water and development issue. It also ensures that each year builds upon the previous years' outcomes and findings.
The current niche for 2009-2012 is "Responding to Global Changes", which looks at the potential and necessary responses in water policy, management and development to address pervasive and increasingly impacting global changes. The themes within the current niche are:
  • 2009: Accessing Water for the Common Good
  • 2010: The Water Quality Challenge
  • 2011: Water in an Urbanising World
  • 2012: Water and Food Security
Browse this website to see the Thematic Scope for 2012 on Water and Food Security, and the workshops covering different aspects of the theme.

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