Global water challenges addressed at 7th World Water Forum

From 12 to 18 April 2015, the international water community, including experts and policy-makers, met at the 7th edition of the triannual World Water Forum to address the global water challenges of the 21st century – such as water security, water quality and preventing water disasters. Over 30.000 people from 168 countries were present during this 7-day event, which is the largest international gathering focusing on water-related issues. It was held in Daegu and Gyeongbuk, Republic of Korea. UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme organized or participated actively in over 60 side events, and brought together a high level panel to focus on water security and sustainable development.

Under the theme Water for Our Future, the Forum aimed to facilitate the implementation of solutions to pressing water-related challenges that had been identified during the previous World Water Fora. One of the main conclusions of this 7th World Water Forum is that in the next decade the political agenda will need to include water as a top priority in order to ensure a water-secure future for all.

UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (UNESCO-IHP) was a key contributor, organizing 63 side events, notably the High-Level Panel: Water Security and Sustainable Development: Co-operation among Disciplines and Stakeholders. This High-Level Panel discussion was dedicated to the 50th anniversary of UNESCO’s water programmes and the 40th anniversary of UNESCO-IHP, the only intergovernmental programme of the UN system devoted to water research, water resources management, water education and capacity building. During the event, the panel emphasized the importance of cooperation among disciplines and of linking scientific findings to social, economic and political processes that address water security challenges.

Other UNESCO-IHP side events explored the multifaceted dimensions of integrated water management, such as water reuse and resource recovery; water cultures, justice and equity; enhancing education and capacity building, women as agents for change for a new culture of water; and adapting to change: monitoring risk and uncertainty for resilience and disaster preparedness.

This World Water Forum provided a key opportunity for the scientific community and decision makers to highlight the importance of water security for sustainable development, to identify water-related challenges that must be taken into consideration in the post-2015 agenda, and to work towards embedding the water-related challenges within the upcoming Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The next World Water Forum will take place in Brasilia in 2018.

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