UN/World Bank High Level Panel concludes Valuing Water Consultation

South Africa was the first of seven countries to kick-start a global consultative process to agree on the values of water in a bid to ensure more equitable use of water as it's becoming a limited resource.

On May 30, ministers, officials, civil society, businesses and local regional organisations were gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa, as part of a high-level consultation on water called the “Valuing Water Initiative”.

The High Level Panel on Water – first convened by the World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and then UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon – consists of 11 sitting Heads of State and Government and one Special Adviser, to provide the leadership required to “champion a comprehensive, inclusive and collaborative way of developing and managing water resources, and improving water and sanitation related services”.

The HLPW’s core focus is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, as well as to contribute to the achievement of the other SDGs that rely on the development and management of water resources.

The members of the panel are Heads of State from Australia, Bangladesh, Hungary, Jordan, Mauritius (co-chair), Mexico (co-chair), Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, South Africa, and Tajikistan.

The consultation in South Africa was expected to be followed by consultations in Mexico, Senegal, Tajikistan and Bangladesh ahead of a global presentation at the Stockholm World Water Week in August 2017.

Global Water Partnership’s (GWP) executive secretary Rudolph Cleveringa explained that, as the first in a series of consultations, the South Africa meeting was to “set the tone and pace”.

Global Water Partnership Executive Secretary Rudolf Cleveringa speaking during GWP-SA Consulting Partners Meeting in Johannesburg

“South Africa is extremely committed to the water agenda. South Africa went from an Apartheid policy-driven water policy to a human rights approach. We are very keen to see the country lead not only from a South African view but also from a southern Africa perspective,” said Cleveringa.

The meeting developed a set of shared principles to motivate and encourage governments, business and civil society to consider water’s multiple values and to guide the transparent incorporation of these values into decision-making by policymakers, communities and businesses.

The purpose of the Regional Consultations is to obtain views from a wide array of regional and country level stakeholders on the proposals from the HLPW on the Valuing Water principles.  These Consultations will build awareness and examine the regional/country level relevance of global perspectives, and provide inputs, options and recommendations that will enhance resolutions from the HLPW.

The consultations would include explanations of the HLPW process and the “Valuing Water principles”; interactive discussion resulting in prioritized sense of participants in each “listening session” on what should be added, modified or dropped, and specific responses to each of the principles.

The valuing water initiative built on the efforts of many groups around the world that have tried to tackle this issue in the past. It developed an inclusive, consultation-driven process to articulate a set of principles to capture the many different values of water, including for economies, ecosystems, communities, individuals, political environments (politicians/lawmakers), cultures, and religions.