Stockholm Water Event Emphasizes Need for Action

During the 2009 World Water Week in Stockholm, more than 2,000 participants gathered to hear leaders challenge the world to think in new ways about the role of water in peace, economic development, and public health.

"Water and sanitation must be given a higher priority in the governments, in the nations, in the municipalities, in the countries where the problems are," said Jan Eliasson, chair of WaterAid Sweden and former president of the United Nations General Assembly. "We need to move from fact finding and early warning to fact facing and early action."

During the plenary, the 2009 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate Bindeshwar Pathak spoke of his work as founder of the Sulabh Sanitation movement in India. "People started laughing when we suggested making toilets available in all important public places," he said. "Now we have installed more than 7,500."

An afternoon high level panel of experts addressed the complexities of politics and power in transboundary water basins. Explaining the contentious issues that often underlie inefficient or unequal management of water resources at the basin level, the panelists critically evaluated how effective cooperation can be implemented in transboundary river basins, especially in regions where political power is not divided equally.

The transboundary water theme continued at an afternoon press conference where the Stockholm International Water Institute introduced a new report developed to serve as a primer on transboundary water management: "Getting Transboundary Water Right: Theory and Practice for Effective Cooperation." Produced with support from The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the report challenges the international water community to integrate new conceptual thinking in the field with lessons learned from transboundary water basins around the world.

Among this week's speakers were:

  • Anders Berntell, executive director, Stockholm International Water Institute;
  • Hon. Gunilla Carlsson, minister for International Development Cooperation, Sweden;
  • Hon. Rejoice Mabudafhasi, Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, South Africa;
  • Munqueth Mehyar, chair and Jordanian director, Friends of the Earth Middle East;
  • Loïc Fauchon, President, World Water Council;
  • Dr. Colin Chartres, director general, International Water Management Institute; and
  • Prof. Mohan Munasinghe, Munasinghe Institute for Development, Sri Lanka and director-general, Sustainable Consumption Institute, University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

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