The National Consultation forms part of a global consultation exercise to get country level feedback from 22 countries on their water priorities, to help shape the United Nations (UN) Post-2015 Sustainable Development Water Agenda.
This global initiative is one of the recommendations arising out of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012 which acknowledged the importance of the global community developing a sustainable development water agenda beyond 2015 through a consultative process that has ownership at all levels from all countries.
Of the 22 countries selected for the global initiative, Antigua and Barbuda is the only Caribbean territory. This greatly highlights the significance of the National Consultation held on April 11th as its overall objective was to obtain inputs from stakeholders from Antigua and Barbuda to influence the larger global policy dialogue. The Consultation also served to ensure that the Caribbean has input into the UN Post-2015 Agenda.
Through the assistance of the APUA, the National Consultation saw the participation of over twenty (20) local stakeholders from sectors such as agriculture, environment, tourism, government, forestry, water, health, community and other areas.
Having the opportunity to address stakeholders at an opening ceremony preceding the start of the Consultation were Ms. Avril Alexander, Regional Coordinator of the GWP-C, Mr. Ivan Rodrigues, Water Manager at the APUA and the Honourable Hilson Baptiste, Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and the Environment of Antigua and Barbuda.
From left to right: Mr. Ivan Rodrigues, Water Manager at the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA), Ms. Avril Alexander, Regional Coordinator of the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) and the Honourable Hilson Baptiste, Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Housing and the Environment of Antigua and Barbuda.
These representatives are seen here at the opening ceremony of the National Stakeholder Consultation on Water, held in Antigua on April 11th, 2013.
All speakers at the opening ceremony stressed the critical importance of water conservation amidst issues such as climate change and flooding. In relation to the local situation in Antigua and Barbuda, speakers made mention of the need to protect the country’s watersheds and that potable water should be widely accessible and available to all citizens.
Ms. Alexander pointed out to stakeholders that 2013 has been declared the International Year of Water Cooperation which she explained is “a call to action.” According to Ms. Alexander “We must work together to improve water consciousness, access and management.” She stated that stakeholder participation and cooperation is a major step in working towards water security.
The Stakeholder Consultation was facilitated by Mr. Gerald Fernandez, a Consultant from Antigua and Barbuda who was contracted by GWP-C to prepare a country report for Antigua and Barbuda on “Priorities of Water Resources and Issues of Water Resources Management Monitoring and Reporting” and to conduct the Stakeholder Consultation.
Key to the Consultation was setting the national agenda for water development in Antigua and Barbuda specific to the water resources needs and challenges unique to the country. Clear guidelines for the National Consultations forming part the UN global initiative were provided to all participating countries.
As a result, the Consultation was focused on three (3) specific themes. These included:
- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
- Wastewater and Water Quality (WW/Q)
- Water Resources Management (WRM)
Mr. Fernandez provided participants with comprehensive background information on the aim and purpose of the activity and the importance of their inputs. He led stakeholders through an intense and interactive day of discussions to obtain the most critical issues at the local level from the above themes.
To do this, stakeholders were divided into three (3) working groups under each of the main focus areas. The methodology used in conducting the working group sessions enabled all participants to be rotated to provide inputs under all 3 areas.
Mr. Fernandez has advised that the Consultation was very informative and provided much clarity on the roles of the stakeholders in water resources management in Antigua and Barbuda.
With the inputs of stakeholders at the local level in Antigua and Barbuda, the next step will be the creation of a Country Report on Antigua and Barbuda setting out the key priority issues for a Water Development Agenda beyond 2015. The intention is that this national report will focus on water resources management and include issues such as water supply, sanitation, and wastewater and water quality and it will also serve as the basis for future partnership activities and collaboration with the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C).