The 11th HLF which took place under the theme “Connecting Water to Climate, Economic Growth and Development within the Post-2015 Development Agenda” sought to build on the recommendations arising out of the 2014 Forum. One of these key proposals included the engagement of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) about the discussions coming out of last year’s Forum in an effort to present these recommendations to CARICOM’s Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) to ensure that water is represented as a critical portfolio in the work of the region.
The 11th HLF saw the participation of Caribbean Water Ministers or designated representatives from Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. Moreover the Forum saw the participation of CARICOM with Dr. Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary-General of Human and Social Development of CARICOM as the Meeting’s keynote speaker.
Dr. Slater in his keynote address to Ministers, senior government officials and representatives from various Caribbean agencies in the water and wastewater sectors stressed CARICOM’s pleasure in participating to share perspectives of the CARICOM Secretariat and the region on the critical issue of water in the Caribbean in the context of the sustainable development of the region, and in particular, the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
He highlighted the importance of water as a natural resource is among the priority areas of the CARICOM Strategic Plan. According to Dr. Slater “there has been some progress, with a number of Member States implementing different levels of adjustment with regard to the governance of water resources management. However, he stated that there is still need for a comprehensive review of policies and action related to water resource management in the region, taking into account the various international political commitments.
According to Dr. Slater, “an important requirement to facilitate success is an improved system of data collection so that informed scientific information is used for policy development.” He therefore urged Caribbean Water Ministers at the 11th HLF to explore the need to support greater capacity building in data management in their respective countries. He also pressed that they work with the relevant stakeholders in determination of clear targets to be aimed at with respect to water management. He also emphasised developing effective strategies to mobilise resources to address the many challenges of water management in the Caribbean.
The 11th HLF was forward-looking with a goal of producing concrete outcomes and harmonised recommendations to guide national and regional efforts in operationalising water, wastewater and climate goals and targets for sustainable development.
Informing the resulting recommendations of the 11th HLF were in-depth discussions and presentations from Ministers and representatives from various regional agencies on:
- Activities undertaken by Caribbean Water Ministers based on the recommendations from the 10th HLF for improvements in water and wastewater management in their countries.
- Enhancing Economic Opportunities through Strengthening Water and Wastewater Policies.
- Water and Sanitation: Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) progress and targets of the Sustainable Development Goals 2015 – 2013.
- The Post-2015 Development Agenda – Goal #6 ““Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” and preparing for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December.
- Decision Making under Climate Uncertainty.
The two-day Forum concluded with the Caribbean Ministers of Water present endorsing the following key recommendations:
- Strengthen the process for regional policy making in the water and wastewater sector through COTED;
- Develop a comprehensive resource mobilisation strategy for improving water and wastewater management in the region;
- Develop a comprehensive data, information and communication management strategy for the water and wastewater sector, in addition to establishing a key repository for such data and information;
- Establish mechanisms for improved decision-making in the water and wastewater sector while ensuring alignment between existing and proposed projects and policies for the sector;
- Strengthen the capacity in the region for the negotiation and development of project proposals for accessing financing to support water and wastewater investments;
- Establish and/or strengthen, as appropriate, mechanisms for collaboration on water and wastewater management at national and regional levels;
- Reiterate the importance of communication, outreach and information sharing at all levels with regard to the significance of water to development;
- Urge, as a matter of priority, the implementation of mechanisms to achieve the targets set in Goals 6 and 17 related to the water and wastewater sector as established in the Post 2015 Development Agenda;
- Encourage regional policy makers participating in the COP 21 (Paris Climate Conference) deliberations to give priority attention to the relationship between Climate Change and the region’s water and wastewater concerns.
The CWWA, the GWP-C and the UNEP CAR/RCU through the GEF CReW are committed to facilitating regional cooperation and collaboration to advance these important recommendations coming out of the 11th High Level Forum (HLF).
In addition to CARICOM and the Caribbean Ministers with responsibility for water and their senior government officials, representatives from regional and international agencies such as the United Nations Environment Programme Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP), the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association Inc. (CAWASA), the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), the Pan America Health Organisation (PAHO), the Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) Programme of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) attended the Forum. Professor John Agard who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change, also participated as the moderator the Ministerial panel discussion at the Forum led by Dr. Slater.