The Opening Plenary Session of the 2013 World Water Week will encourage delegates to discuss issues such as how more effective cooperation can enable us to reach water wise decision and goals, spur implementation to help us build a better future, and how the benefits of cooperation tally with its costs.
The Key note address of the High Level Panel; "Building partnerships for future oriented decisions and forcing implementation", will be delivered by Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations. High level panellists include key collaborating partners for the 2013 World Water Week, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, World Wide Fund for Nature and the Global Partnership. The OECD and UNESCO also provide important perspectives to the panel discussion. Welcome to a ling week of fruitful meetings, inspiring talks, and knowledge sharing!
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"Blue Peace" by Adolphson & Falk
Ms. Karin Lexén, director of the world water week and of the prizes, moderated the section that counted with rich contributions of a variety of prominent actors. In his welcome address, Mr. Torgny Holmgren, director of SIWI, highlighted three reasons for cooperation: i) risks associated to scarcity and growing demand of water resources; ii) great opportunities of partnerships and potential conflicts related to the shared nature of water resources; and iii) the challenges posed by accelerating urbanization worldwide. These reasons resonated strongly in the discussions that followed.
The commitment of Sweden and Stockholm with water and cooperation were reinstated by Hon. Ms. Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for International Development Cooperation, and Mr. Sten Nordin, mayor of Stockholm. As stated by Ms. Carlsson, ´Comprehensive problems require comprehensive solutions´, and require several types of partnerships at all levels. Mr. Nordin followed, highlighting the example of a network of the world´s megacities called ‘C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group’, a perfect example of novel partnerships meant for bridging scales and breaking the barriers of conventional international cooperation.
Inspiration was provided by two exciting artistic contributions, and by both senior and young professionals. ´Mother Nature has worked out things pretty well and it pays to draw on her wisdom, design and elegance in her works´, said Dr. Peter Morgan, 2013 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate and Director of Aquamor. He also presented a wealth of examples on how nature can be a source of inspiration. The other source of inspiration was presented by a group of young professionals (YPs), self-denominated ‘adaptive-idealists’. They presented ‘a youth vision for water cooperation´ and an appealing set of four key actions for achieving water cooperation: setting up a platform for engaging YPs; creating a ‘learning from failure prize’; developing innovative schemes for intergenerational cooperation and tutoring; and focusing on the inclusion of underrepresented and often neglected stakeholders (such as YPs from developing nations).
Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, reminded the audience of the alarming state of sanitation and access to clean water: ´This glass of water is still a luxury, a dream for 768 million people. Let´s not forget that´. At the high level panel discussion that followed, Ms. Yolanda Kakabadse, President of the World Wide Fund for Nature, stressed that `the big elephant in the room is that we don´t have a partnership with nature´. She also emphasized: ´if we don´t accept that water secures life, and then we have nothing to talk about. Water does not come from the tap, it comes from nature´.
Also in the panel, Mr. Peter Bakker, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, shared his view that the Industry is not yet ready for cooperation and his hope that this can be changed over the next days. According to him, current approaches for translating science into business actions are still hindering the cooperation between these sectors, and it is fundamental to develop a shared risk language that allows it.
At the conclusion, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), presented a new initiative aiming at identifying and accelerating innovative technologies and market-driven approaches, Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development. The initiative will provide funding for validation and scaling up of sustainable innovations that contribute to food security.