Organised by the Geneva Institute for Water, Environment and Health (GIWEH), in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the “Sustainable Water use and Management: Leadership for Positive Change” panel was held 26 March in Geneva and is the first in GIWEH’s Water Series symposiums aimed at bridging the gap between policy and science in water management. GCI International Water Programme Director David Alix, who recently returned from the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul, was one of the speakers on the panel, where he provided insight into the outcomes of the Forum on the issue of urban water management.
In his speech, Mr. Alix pointed out the fact that the Ministerial declaration issued at the end of the Forum provided no recognition of the role of urban governance nor did it declare water as a human right. “It was quite disappointing in Istanbul to see the divorce between the policy and water communities. It seems that both sides were working on their own. And the fact that the Istanbul Water Consensus was not included in the Ministerial declaration reflects this,” said Mr. Alix. “So I hope this series of conferences aiming at bridging the gap between policy and science will result in tangible recommendations that will be brought at the policy level.”
In addition, Mr Alix highlighted the Istanbul Water Consensus, which was signed by mayors from 52 countries to make a united effort for urban water resource management in the face of global changes, including urbanization and climate change. Furthermore, Mr. Alix also provided a summary of the main points raised in the various thematic sessions on urban water management, noting that the topic was only covered in 4 of the six Forum themes, namely Global Change and Risk Management, Advancing Human Development and the MDGs, Governance, and Finance.
The aim of the symposium was to identify patterns of effective leadership for positive change through success stories and the full list of speakers included Marc Soutter, Professor, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland; Charles Stadler, Director, Water Sector of the State of Geneva, Switzerland; Chris Williams, Professor, Centre for International Education and Research, University of Birmingham, UK; and Meine Pieter van Dijk, Senior Economist, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – Institute for Hydraulic and Environmental Engineering Institute (UNESCO-IHE), Delft, The Netherlands.