Launch of the World Water Development Report 2017: Wastewater, The Untapped Resource

President Zuma holds the WWDR 2017 in presence of high-level panel

The World Water Development Report 2017, titled ‘Wastewater, The Untapped Resource’, was launched during the World Water Day celebration at the 'Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Conference Centre' in Durban, South-Africa.

"Over 80% of the world's wastewater is released to the environment without proper treatment, with negative consequences for the environment and human health. At the same time, wastewater should be considered a valuable resource instead of a burden." 

The session was opened with the welcome remarks by Mr. Mchunu, Premier of KwaZulu- Natal Provincial Government and opening remarks by Mr. Harlin, Vice-Chair of UN-Water, Mr. Engida, Deputy Director general of UNESCO, Prof. Verkooijen, World Bank, and Mr. Lwenge, Minister for Water & Irrigation, United Republic of Tanzania; African Ministers' Council on Water President. 

President Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, delivered a key note in which he pointed out the relevance of the new UN World Water Development Report: "This key report draws the attention to the current status of water and sanitation and calls world leaders to take action in order to ensure the availability and sustainable management of essential water and sanitation services for all."

Ms. Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa and HE Donnici, Ambassador of Italy to South Africa acknowledged the established partnership and introduced the presentation of the WWDR 2017.

Presentation of the WWDR 2017 and Panel

The technical presentation by Prof. Stefan Uhlenbrook, Coordinator of the World Water Assessment Programme, provided the core of the session through his dissemination of the main findings and recommendations of the World Water Development Report 2017, titled 'Wastewater, The Untapped Resource'.

A few remarkable highlights from the WWDR 2017 mentioned by Mr. Uhlenbrook underline the relevance of the Report and of the efforts needed to achieve water-related targets:

  • “Over 80% of the wastewater globally is released to the environment without proper treatment, at the same time the amount of wastewater produced is increasing” 
  • "Wastewater is a reliable and sustainable source of water as well as of energy, nutrients and other recoverable by-products"
  • "The costs of improved wastewater management are outweighed by benefits in terms of human health, socioeconomic development and environmental sustainability. It is crucial for achieving the 2030 Agenda"
  • "In a circular economy, wastewater use and by-product recovery can generate new business opportunities while helping finance sanitation services".

The morning session was concluded with a moderated panel debate and Q&A with the audience. The panel was formed by the following experts, each representing different perspective: Mr. Slatyer, Special Adviser on Water to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and trade (representing state and high level commitments), Mr. van Rooyen, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (local government perspective), Ms. Ortigara, Programme Officer of the World Water Assessment Programme (civil society and women perspective – replacing Ms. Abdulrahman, steering committee member Women for Water Partnership), Mr. Chanda, African Development Bank (development perspective), Mr. Harlin, Vice-Chair of UN-Water (United Nations perspective), and Mr. Ginster, Head of Water, Waste, Land and Biodiversity at Sasol (private sector perspective).

In parallel to the main launch event, a large number of regional launching events took place on the same day across the world.

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