GWP-Med at the 8th World Water Forum 2018

The World Water Forum, held every three years, is the world’s biggest water-related event, contributing to the dialogue of decision-makers on water at the global level, building political commitment and triggering action on critical water issues. The Mediterranean water community has traditionally been very active at the World Water Forum, voicing core messages and highlighting experiences from the region. This contribution has been concretized through a dedicated Mediterranean Preparatory Process. The 8th World Water Forum took place this year (18-23 March, Brasilia, Brazil) under the overarching theme “Sharing Water” and its more than 300 sessions were attended by 10,600 participants.

The Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med) has been steadily present in the World Water Fora and was again actively involved in the 8th World Water Forum, co-organising sessions under the Regional and the Thematic Processes of the Forum, focusing on the Nexus approach and on transboundary cooperation respectively, while also participating in other events.

In the framework of the Forum’s Regional Process for the Mediterranean, GWP-Med together with TYPSA organised, on Wednesday 21 March, a session titled “Contextualising the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems Nexus in the Mediterranean: current status, challenges and the way forward”.

The session begun with introductory remarks on the nexus approach in the Mediterranean context by Dimitris Faloutsos (GWP-Med) and Juan Ojeda (TYPSA). Presentations and insights were then given from selected case studies in the Region:

  • “The vision of a Water‐Energy Nexus between Jordan, Palestine and Israel”, Waad Odeh, EcoPeace Middle East and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
  • “Smart solutions to optimize the Water – Energy management in urban areas”, Alain Meyssonnier, Groupe des Eaux de Marseille (France)
  • “The use of solar energy in the desalination of water ‐ case of the Bengardene desalination plant”, Fethi Kamel, SONEDE (National Water Distribution Utility, Tunisia)
  • “Improving Food, Water, Energy Chains for Developed Countries”, Mohamed Rami, NWRC (National Water Resources Centre, Egypt)
  • “Application of Nexus policies in the water and food sectors in the Murcia Region”, Francisco Jodar, Government of the Region of Murcia (Spain)

The key messages that emerged from the session include:

  • The application of a Nexus perspective provides multiple benefits, not only to the security of supply of the individual sectors, but also broader social, economic and environmental benefits, including job creation.
  • The development of a monitoring and evaluation framework for nexus applications is important for making explicit these benefits and increasing the acceptance of the nexus approach at different levels and scales.
  • Institutions need targeted support, including on structural aspects (eg roles and responsibilities of Ministries and other authorities), to tackle the complexity relating to the application of a Nexus approach.
  • The active involvement of stakeholders from all levels needs to be ensured when applying a nexus approach, including through appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks.
  • Technology and smart solutions need to be adequately integrated in all activities to accelerate the meeting of sustainable development objectives.
  • Water professionals need to think beyond conventional, isolated approaches and consider options for integrating and synergizing with energy and food production aspects as well.

More information on the session, including the presentations, should be available by clicking the relevant box on the Forum's detailed programme. At the time of publishing this post, the link was not fully operational.


In the context of the Forum’s Thematic Process, and specifically under the “International cooperation” of the Capacity Theme, GWP-Med together with GEF IW:Learn, organised on Thursday 22 March, a session titled “International Cooperation as key factor to address the Water and Climate Relationship”.

The session begun with an overview of the history of the climate-water relationship, with emphasis at the international and transboundary levels, by Dr. Ulrike Pokorski da Cunha, Head of Sustainable Water Policy at GIZ.

The session was then structured around a lively panel discussion on the water-climate linkages among the following representatives of regional and international institutions:

  • Ambassador Maria Jacqueline Mendoza Ortega, General Secretary, Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization
  • Christian Severin, Senior Environmental Specialist, Global Environment Facility
  • Karin Krchnak, Water Resource Group 2030, World Bank
  • Dimitris Faloutsos – GEF-UNDP Drin River Basin Project, Global Water Partnership
  • Patricia Grazziotin Noschang, Professora de Direito Internacional, Universidade de Passo Fundo-RS
  • Mary Matthews, GEF-UNDP Kura-Aras River Basin Project

Panellists noted that the water and climate communities are moving in the right direction, with traditional silos being broken and uncertainties converging. So far, this convergence has mostly been led by the climate community, having realized the critical role that water has in adaptation to climate change. They also highlighted the importance of transboundary cooperation, as both water and climate cut across national boundaries, while responses often remain at the national level. In this regard, the water community should get deeper involved in the international climate negotiations process.


GWP-Med was also involved under the Urban theme of the Forum, with Konstantina Toli, Senior Programme Officer being a panellist in the “Water Governance and Communication in Cities” session convened by GWP on 20 March, where she presented GWP-Med activities and experience in the urban agenda.


The “Citizen's Forum” has been a dedicated Process under the World Water Forum, aiming to encourage creative and effective participation of civil society, as well as social and democratic responsibility for water issues. GWP-Med was also actively involved in this process:

  • GWP-Med Senior Advisor Fuad Bateh moderated the "Refugees inclusion in water management: political, environmental & economic aspects" session, held on 20 March. In the session, participants from the Middle East, Central Asia and Somalia, shared their views on the challenges that refugees face, the relevant policy priorities and expectations, as well as on the involvement of the international community, while also noting the issue of advocacy.
  • Mr. Bateh also participated in the “Political Governance Versus Sustainable Governance: Financial Resources, Interests and Power” session, held on 19 March. Referring also to the experience of GWP-Med’s “Governance & Financing” project, he spoke about how participatory engagement of civil society could be complemented using the dialogue modality on national policies, one of many possible tools to ensure the voice of civil society is heard, without of course any intention to substitute convention mechanisms of public institutions.


In parallel to the Forum’s official program, Mr. Bateh participated in the side event “Water stress, a Mediterranean concern” organized by the Moroccan government. In his intervention he noted the critical role of good governance in the water sector and the importance of creating an enabling environment that would encourage more investments in the water and sanitation sector, also highlighting GWP-Med’s experience and contribution in sharing relevant experiences among countries and stakeholders in the Mediterranean Region.


It should also be noted that among the 54 water governance good practices included in OECD’s report on “Implementing the OECD Principles on Water Governance” that was launched during the Forum, two were related to GWP-Med activities:

  • A governance framework to implement alternative water supply solutions in the Mediterranean region” featured GWP-Med’s Non-Conventional Water Resources (NCWR) Programme that promotes alternative water supply solutions in islands in the Mediterranean
  • Water sector reform in the Palestinian Territories” presents developments in establishing strong sustainable institutions and appropriate legal frameworks in the country’s water sector. The National Policy Dialogue process implemented in the framework of the “Governance & Financing for the Mediterranean Water Sector” project (implemented by GWP-Med and OECD) was part of and contributed to the formal national process.


Overall, the 8th World Water Forum, also through the Political Process that guided the connection among official authorities at a global level, left a significant legacy of commitments as seen in the related declarations, including:

  • The Ministerial Declaration titled "Urgent call for decisive action on water" and approved by the Ministerial Conference, attended by 56 Ministers and 14 Deputy Ministers from 56 countries, following discussions between Ministers and heads of delegations from more than 100 countries.
  • The “Charter of Brasilia” issued by the Conference of Judges and Prosecutors (attended by 83 judges, prosecutors, and experts from 57 countries);
  • The “Declaration of the Public Prosecutor Office on the Right to Water” issued by the Global Institute of the Public Prosecutors Office, which brings together members of public prosecution offices of the various nations of the world around topics related to the protection of natural resources;
  • The Parliamentarian Declaration of the Parliamentary Conference, attended by 134 parliamentarians from 20 nations;
  • The “Call to Action of Local and Regional Governments on Water and Sanitation of Brasilia”, launched by 150 representatives of local and regional authorities.

All documents are available on the Forum’s website.


GWP-Med will continue to be actively involved in the World Water Fora (the next one to be held in 2021 in Senegal), especially under the Mediterranean Regional Preparatory Process, with a commitment to share experiences on what has been achieved in the Mediterranean, communicate key challenges and messages from the Region to the global water community while benefitting from related exchanges with other institutions in the Region and beyond.