Need of local approaches to meet water challenges stressed for 4th World Water Forum

Following events in Japan, The Netherlands and Morocco, Mexico City to host forum, urging 'adoption of a focus based on local solutions in which not only governments participate, but also individuals, civil society, the mass media, businesspersons, and members of the communities of each country'...

Aug 26th, 2005

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 26, 2005 (PRNewswire) -- The Mexican government, through the Secretariat of the 4th World Water Forum and the World Water Council, issued a second announcement for the Forum yesterday during the Seminar "Local Actions for a Global Challenge," held in the framework of the World Water Week in Stockholm.

Mexico City will host the event March 16-22, 2006. Earlier forums were held in Kyoto, Japan, in March 2003; The Hague, Netherlands, March 2000; and Marrakech, Morocco, in March 1997.

The announcement urges the adoption of a focus based on local solutions in which not only governments participate, but also individuals, civil society, the mass media, businesspersons, and members of the communities of each country, reported Cristobal Jaime Jaquez, co-chair of the Forum's International Organizing Committee and director general of the National Water Commission of Mexico.

"This represents the possibility for all countries to learn about what other nations have already experienced and to implement and adjust these successful actions to the real conditions of each region," he explained.

In this sense, Franca Schwarz, from the ministry of the Environment in Germany, agreed in pointing out that what really distinguishes the 4th World Water Forum from other global conferences is the identification of local actions. Through the regional meetings as part of the preparatory process for the Forum this bottom up strategy brings different views and experiences on this field together.

Meanwhile, Hilary Coulby, of the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Group, emphasized that the groups and social organizations are ready and already in contact with each other to participate in the Forum. "Preparatory meetings and conferences in Brazil, South Africa, Uganda, and the Philippines have already been added to the agenda, in which some representative groups such as Thames Water, PSI, and Water Aid are participating," she reported.

In addition, international women's organizations and networks that work in water and environmental agencies have pooled efforts and formed a Women's Council to organize sessions with the aim of guaranteeing that a gender perspective be incorporated in the Forum.

The International Organizing Committee of the 4th World Water Forum explained that the Second Announcement deals with the mechanisms through which any organization, network, or individual can participate in the five regions: Africa, America, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. This will allow participants to familiarize themselves with different ways of resolving the challenges of water and the successful experiences that have been implemented.

During the World Water Week in Stockholm the Regional Committee for Europe has been set up. "We are pleased to work with the region of Europe during the preparatory process and the 4th World Water Forum itself to make European Local Actions a strong input into the Forum," remarked committee coordinator Jeroen J. van der Sommen, of the Netherlands Water Partnership, in his presentation.

The Minister of Water of Ethiopia, Shiferaw Jarso, pointed out factors such as poverty and the impact of natural disasters -- drought, floods, and desertification -- in addition to inadequate water management, lack planning in response to environmental and ecological problems, demand major investments in infrastructure. "There is an urgent need to turn into actions instead of only discussions."

Bert Diphoorn, a board member of the African Development Bank (ADB) and coordinator of the Organizing Committee for the African region declared, "Africa is very interested in participating in the preparatory process and the Forum, and with this in mind, will have the support of the African Development Bank. We will have more than 20 sessions organized by experts thanks to the Forum platform and a regional meeting that will be held next month in Tunisia."

It should be emphasized that the Second Announcement contains a description of the challenges in each of the regions, considered from the vantage point of the framework themes and crosscutting perspectives that involve such topics as financing local initiatives, the development of capacities, use of technology, and evaluation of current policies in relation to water-related problems.

The document also describes the agenda to be followed in each of the Forum's component activities, such as the Ministerial Conference, World Water Expo, Prizes that will be awarded, and the Water Fair, with its cultural events. Information on these activities available at the Forum's website: www.worldwaterforum4.org.mx.

In relation to other points, it was reported that the International Organizing Committee of the Forum will seek to promote a greater participation and commitment from the communications media. With this in mind, the Inter-American Development Bank will finance training workshops, so that the issue of water will be an important topic in the media's agenda and as a result, a greater awareness and participation by society will be achieved.

The seminar lecturers said that they do not want to give the impression that a project has been developed to compensate or address the lack of water in a specific place in the world. What is important is to find out directly from the local actors what financial, economic, political or technological factors allowed a project of key importance to become a reality for the survival of a community. This is why the central slogan of the World Forum is "Local Actions for a Global Challenge."

The World Water Forum is the most important international event related to water, organized by the World Water Council together with the host country. The fourth edition will take place in Mexico from March 16th to 22nd, 2006. The goal of the World Water Forum, held every three years, is to promote sustainable policy in managing water resources world-wide, as well as generating awareness about water-related problems, promoting a better management of water resources, and influencing public policy and decision-making in the local, regional, national and international levels.

The World Water Forum is an open space for all to participate and influence the better management of water. Among the activities of the Forum, a ministerial conference will take place, as well as thematic sessions, workshops, an expo and water fair, and a cinema festival, among others.

For more information, contact:
Ulrike Kelm, Tel: +52-55-51744000 ext. 1124 or ulrike.kelm@worldwaterforum4.org.mx
OR
Carolina Vazquez, Tel: +52-55-51744000 ext. 1105 or carolina.vazquez@cna.gob.mx

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