A three-day summit on water attended by more than 2,000 participants, has called for a new global political architecture to strengthen water resource cooperation and management and achieve greater water security in the face of environmental challenges, climate change, population growth and urbanization.
WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas was among UN and government leaders attending the Budapest Water Summit, which took place from 28-30 November. WMO organized a high-level special session on climate change and water.
The conference focussed on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which addresses pressing water-related issues including universal and equitable access to safe drinking water and sanitation, pollution, water quality, water scarcity and water use efficiency.
“The world has arrived at a critical point where this strategic resource can no longer be taken for granted. Water must be embedded within policies related to the entire 2030 Agenda,” said a conference declaration.
“Water is a critical global issue. While water is managed at a local, basin and regional level, it is a global issue because its ramifications are global - interconnected through the planetary water cycle and global economy - and is now a strategic resource worldwide,” said the declaration.
Water, through the hydrological cycle has is part of the global value chain. It cannot be managed alone within local political and/or market boundaries. Policies and crises on one side of the world can impact water resources all over the globe. Because a water crisis is a global challenge, a global response is needed, it said.
WMO supports the action plan adopted by the conference. Specifically, it works to increase capacity development efforts at all levels in the water sector, with a focus on vocational training to ensure water professionals are ready to face current and future water challenges.
WMO also supports the conference’s emphasis on improving and enhancing water-related data collection and analysis efforts at all levels. This entails employing new methods and techniques such as big data and crowdsourcing, and investing politically and financially in open water data access and availability including from civil society and citizens.
At the high-level session organized by WMO, János Pásztor, Senior Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Climate Change, stressed the need for a system-wide approach to water which also embraces energy, food and health. This was fundamental to achieving the sustainable development agenda, he said.
WMO Secretary-General Taalas highlighted that changes in the hydrological cycle and increased water stress are already occurring as a result of climate change, he said.
Participants discussed how to achieve integrated approaches to water management and underlined the need to maintain the “water momentum” displayed at the recent UN Climate Change conference in Marrakech, Morocco, earlier in November 2016.
IISD coverage of Budapest Water Summit available here