Experts from over 100 countries to attend World Water Week

The 2006 World Water Week in Stockholm will continue its role in promoting water, environment, development and poverty reduction when it takes place August 20-26 at the Stockholm City Conference Centre in the Swedish capital. World Water Week is hosted and organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Aug. 15, 2006 -- The 2006 World Water Week in Stockholm will continue its role in promoting water, environment, development and poverty reduction when it takes place August 20-26 at the Stockholm City Conference Centre in the Swedish capital. World Water Week is hosted and organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).

World Water Week will be a venue for the presentation of concrete examples of how problems of poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and gender inequality can in large measure be solved with water and sanitation as the key entry points. The week emphasizes capacity-building, partnership-building and follow-up on the implementation of international processes and programs in water and development. Participants in Stockholm will represent businesses, governments, the water management and science sectors, inter-governmental organizations, NGOs, research and training institutions, United Nations agencies and more.

Over 100 different organizations and programs are on board as conveners or co-conveners of different activities and more than 1500 participants are expected from 100 countries. The week-long program is comprised of plenary sessions, panel debates, workshops, seminars, side events, technical tours, social events and prize ceremonies.

In 2006, the overarching World Water Week theme is "Beyond the River ¿ Sharing Benefits and Responsibilities". This is a paradigm-shifting concept in the water sector, since for example livelihoods around the world are increasingly dependent upon transboundary and transbasin water contexts ¿ shared water, in short ¿ and societies are becoming more urban. How benefits from water are generated, distributed and shared in this context will help determine the overall welfare of both people and the planet in this century.

Three related sub-themes will explore the prospects for co-operation over shared waters, how land use affects water quality and water quantity, and what can be done to cope with weather- and climate-related disasters.

"Sharing benefits is a future-oriented approach in water and development, because it means looking at water from the perspective of what can be derived from it, for whom and by whom, and not the water per se," said Anders Berntell, Executive Director of SIWI. "The World Water Week this year will explore the links between benefits, costs and responsibilities, for instance, in physical planning and infrastructure design, including water and sanitation services and pollution abatement."

The land is the home to human activities, and what happens there also affects water quality and quantity.

"The landscape is the source and the sink for society's needs and wants, and it mirrors human ingenuity as well as ignorance," said Professor Jan Lundqvist of SIWI, chair of the week's Scientific Program Committee. "Natural resources use and waste disposal are intimately linked to human existence and must be managed more effectively."

The Stockholm meeting also will look at natural disasters and society's vulnerability to the forces of Nature. For different reasons, the impact of these forces is increasingly severe. While extreme events will come perhaps with greater frequency, it should be possible to plan and cope with emergencies and disaster situations so that suffering, loss of life and damage to property can be avoided on the scales as seen in the Tsunami aftermath, New Orleans and elsewhere.

Special events abound

Among the many events and activities taking place in Stockholm, several warrant special attention. Developing and managing water resources to help end poverty and hunger, feed an additional 2 billion people by 2030, while reversing trends of ecosystem degradation, is a most significant challenge. During a series of seminars in Stockholm, including its main event on Thursday, August 24, the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture will reveal the results of its five-year critical evaluation of the benefits, costs and impacts of 50 years of water development for agriculture.

The Global Water Partnership (GWP) has planned a number of activities in celebration of its 10th anniversary. Launched in Stockholm in 1996, GWP has grown and evolved into a true working partnership among all those involved in water management: government agencies, public institutions, private companies, professional organizations, multilateral development agencies and others committed to the Dublin-Rio principles.

The European Union Water Initiative will hold its annual multi-stakeholder meeting in Stockholm, and a seminar will be held by UN-Water ¿ the UN agencies, programs and funds that have a significant role in tackling global water concerns ¿ and the major non-UN partners who cooperate with them in advancing progress towards the water-related goals of the Decade Water for Life and the Millennium Declaration.

Also, the "Water Integrity Network" will be launched to fight corruption in the water sector. Corruption drains the sector by reducing economic growth, discouraging investment, violating human dignity, increasing health risks and robbing the poor of livelihoods and access to water. Finally, the International Federation of Environmental Journalists will examine the critical role played by media in covering environmental conflicts.

Excellence to be honoured

On August 24, Professor Asit K. Biswas of the Third World Centre for Water Management in Mexico will receive the 2006 Stockholm Water Prize, worth USD $150,000, from the hands of H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden in the Stockholm City Hall.

The annual Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition will include young people from some 29 countries competing for the international award; the Prize Ceremony, also honored by the presence of H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria, takes place August 22 in the Stockholm City Conference Centre/Folkets Hus.

By serving as a positive example in the business sector, the Sydney Water Corporation from Australia will receive the 2006 Stockholm Industry Water Award on August 23 for its "Every Drop Counts (EDC) Business Program", which demonstrates how the utility is working in partnership with business, industry and government to help ensure the long-term sustainability of Sydney's water supply. The ceremony takes place in the Stockholm City Conference Centre/Norra Latin.

Finally, on August 25, Swedish financier Björn Carlson will receive the 2006 Swedish Baltic Sea Water Award for setting the bar so high for philanthropy in the water sector with his USD 65 million donation for Baltic Sea projects. The ceremony takes place in the Stockholm City Conference Centre/Folkets Hus.

For more information, visit www.worldwaterweek.org

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