World Water Day 2011
About World Water Day
International World Water Day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day. Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific aspect of freshwater.
Main World Water Day 2011 event in Cape Town
The main World Water Day 2011 event “Water for cities: responding to the urban water challenge” will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from 20 to 22 March 2011 in South Africa. It will be hosted by the Government of South Africa, in collaboration with UN-Water, the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), The United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). On 20 and 21st March 2011 many organisations will have parallel and side events. On World Water Day, 22nd March a plenary program will be organised with presentations, debate and culture.
The WWD 2011 Exhibition and Fair will be open for three days from 20th - 22nd March to exhibitors from all over the world. Visitors to the fair will include 1,500 participants attending the Cape Town event as well as local visitors from South Africa. At the fair is a large podium for presentations and entertainment.
It will feature cultural events, speeches, interviews and worldwide videoconferencing via the Internet. This is the first time in human history that most of the world’s population live in cities: 3.3 billion people ...and the urban landscape continues to grow. 38% of the growth is represented by expanding slums, while the city populations are increasing faster than city infrastructure can adapt.
The objective of World Water Day 2011 is to focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems.
This year theme, Water for cities: responding to the urban challenge, aims to spotlight and encourage governments, organizations, communities, and individuals to actively engage in addressing the defy of urban water management.
The event is a joint collaboration of UN-Water, the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW), the United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).
World Water Day
World Water Day is held annually on 22 March to highlight the importance of freshwater and importance of sustainable management of freshwater resources. It dates back to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) which recommended it as an important reminder to the world. The United Nations General Assembly then designated 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.
The 2011 theme
This year, UN-Water chose the theme Water and Urbanization under the slogan Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge. The objective of WWD 2011 is to focus international attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialization and uncertainties caused by climate change, conflicts and natural disasters on urban water systems. It will encourage action by governments, organizations, communities, and individuals around the world to actively engage in addressing urban water management challenges. UN-HABITAT is coordinating the organization of this year’s event on behalf of UN-Water.
Message from UN-HABITAT
On behalf of the United Nations agencies joining hands with the distinguished participants at this all important World Water Day conference, I wish to thank the Government of South Africa, the City of Cape Town, and our Capetonian friends for hosting this event.
As everyone gathering here knows, sustainable urban development begins with health and dignity.
These fundamental conditions of our humanity can only be met with sustained investment in water and sanitation. Half the world’s population today lives in towns and cities. That figure is projected to reach two-thirds in little over a generation from now. And half of that increase will be in the slums and squatter settlements of towns and cities in developing countries.
In the slums of Nairobi, the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, the bustees of Kolkata, and right here in Cape Town’s townships, the provision of safe water and basic sanitation to the urban poor is a critical challenge facing the world today.
We need more than ever before concerted action by the international community to help countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals related to water and sanitation. We are gathered here for this World Water Day to push for stronger political commitment at the national and the local level. After all, safe drinking water and basic sanitation must be placed at the very top of the poverty eradication and the sustainable development agendas. The urban water challenge must be recognised for what it really is – a crisis of governance, weak policies and poor management, rather than a scarcity crisis. We need to shore up water security against the added problems of pollution, and climate change. We need innovative ideas and good practices to implement.
Why, for instance, use drinkable water in our toilets? But most of all cities need sound policies and the political will to back them up. They must have strengthened institutions and trained managers to run them. They need a responsible business sector and an enlightened public sector to work hand in hand. And they must have an informed public with the active participation of the communities most in need.
At gatherings like this, the focus of the international community on water has often masked the growing problem of poor sanitation. This is the most dehumanising aspect of the daily battle for survival of the urban poor, not to mention the health threats posed by water-borne diseases that come with. World Water Day 2011
Water and Urbanization
Unclean water and unsafe sanitation.
Indeed improper solid waste disposal is a growing threat to health and the environment. Urban institutional arrangements are fragmented, lack effective regulation and roles are not structured for efficiency or success.
Investments in infrastructure and planning have not kept up with the rate of urbanisation. Water and waste services have not been given the priority they deserve, and they show significant underinvestment, in comparison with their economic returns. Africa for example invests only 4% of its GDP in infrastructure compared to 14% in China.
Utilities in many developing countries are characterised by high water losses, unaccounted for water, bloated staffing, weak governance and financially unviable operations. Although there are some important exceptions, in general they have a long way to go in improving efficiency and effectiveness. The facts speak for themselves: Between 1998 and 2008, 1,052 million urban dwellers gained access to improved drinking water, and 813 million to improved sanitation. But the global urban population grew at the same time by 1,089 million people, thus undermining progress. One out of four city residents worldwide, 789 million in total, lives without access to improved sanitation facilities, and 497 million people in cities rely on shared sanitation. The poor in cities receive the worst services, paying up to 50 times more per litre of water than their richer neighbours because they usually have to buy their water from private vendors.
In countries around the world, a publicly stated government policy on the right to sanitation and hygiene is long overdue. This conference has a duty to urge a reversal of the decline in per capita investment in water and sanitation for cities. It has a duty also to alert decision makers at every level to this water and sanitation crisis. Let’s make World Water Day here in Cape Town a wakeup call to the world.
Under-Secretary- General, United Nations
Message from UN-Water
UN-Water has a major focus on overcoming urban water challenges. Managing water in rapidly growing cities is a major problem faced by numerous municipalities. In many cities of the world water quality remains poor, or the supply is intermittent, or taxes are higher because of astronomical costs of replacing ageing water infrastructure. Add to this over 800 million people living in slums, which continue to grow at an unparalleled rate and are often without access to basic amenities such as reliable clean drinking water or a toilet.
World Water Day 2011 draws attention to these problems and offers to ignite discussions that will enable humanity to overcome them. In the days leading up to, and the months following the formal launch event in Cape Town, many organizations will draw on the theme “Water for Cities: Responding to the urban water challenge.” They will shine the light on both challenges and successes related to the delivery of clean safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in towns and cities. They will urge investment to address problems, help stimulate policy attention as well as public and private investment in water improvements, and celebrate innovative solutions.
This UN-Water initiative, spearheaded in 2011 with great energy and flair by UN-Habitat, includes multiple facets to better focus global attention on water issues in cities and their inhabitants. A vibrant website (www. unwater.org/ worldwaterday) anchors the campaign, providing ready access to facts, figures and authoritative reading materials, a variety of downloadable campaign materials available to those organising events across the planet, as well as to links to previous WWD campaigns led by other UN-Water members. We have observed a steady growth of visits to the WWD website over the years and with the addition of an active social media campaign anticipate attracting about a million unique visitors to this year’s edition.
The event in Cape Town will feature a variety of thematic sessions organized by UN-Water members and partner organizations. Those sessions will showcase many initiatives being undertaken to try and address pressing
World Water Day 2011
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Water issues in cities. The WWD 2011 exhibition and fair will also provide an important forum for learning and discussion among likeminded people dedicated to addressing global water issues. On behalf of all our members and partners, I take great pleasure in encouraging you to participate fully in all aspects of this year’s edition of World Water Day. Let’s together mark this as a beginning of a water revolution in cities.
Message from UNSGAB
This year World Water Day focuses attention on urban challenges. Rightfully so! Half of the human population now lives and cities, and within two decades nearly twothirds of humanity will be living in cities. In terms of providing safe drinking water and basic sanitation to their inhabitants, cities are doing pretty well for water: according to the United Nations Joint
Monitoring Programme, globally cities have kept coverage rates stable in the face of massive population growth. To meet the water and sanitation targets of the Millennium Development Goals, it is critical that we maintain these efforts – and that we step them up.
Sanitation is today one of the most worrying targets, especially in cities. Open defecation rates are increasing in cities – up to 169 million in 2008 compared to 140 million in 1990. Shared sanitation facilities, unconnected to plumbing infrastructure are the norm in slum areas. The impacts on health, education, poverty reduction, and dignity, are well known. It is not possible to stay idle in front of this challenge. To put the spotlight on sanitation in these last critical years before the 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goals, UNSGAB initiated the Sustainable Sanitation five-year drive to 2015.
This campaign will help to keep sanitation high on the political agenda, generate political will and empower communities to organize sustainable sanitation solutions – all in all an effort to meet the MDG sanitation target. Governments endorsed it: the 2010 MDG Summit Outcome document committed countries to redouble their efforts to close the sanitation gap and endorsed the five-year drive. And just last December, UN Member States endorsed a General Assembly resolution supporting the five-year drive and calling to end open defecation. Now that we have a powerful statement of support we all need to get busy to turn this resolution into expanded sanitation coverage for the one out of four urban dwellers who lack this basic service. The events organized for World Water Day in Cape Town are an opportunity to take stock of the initiatives of all partners, and plan for increased attention to these pressing issues. In particular, UNSGAB will pay specific attention to the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) first General Assembly.
A few years ago, UNSGAB was instrumental in realizing that publicly owned and managed water operators provide more than 90 percent of the world’s piped water, and even small managerial improvements could yield major benefits. And thus UNSGAB recommended a new mechanism— water operator partnerships designed as a structured programme of cooperation among water operators, based on mutual support and on a not-for-profit basis. Such utilities are particularly important in the urban environment: this recognition led UN-HABITAT to take the lead and host the GWOPA. Today it is genuinely encouraging to see how this initiative has grown up. We commend the efforts of the Alliance members who are contributing to the effort to implement concrete, hands-on capacity-building and thus enhance the efficiency of water and sanitation utilities.
The millions of people moving into cities around the world need potable water, sanitation services, and a wastewater system that keeps cities free of disease and ensures sustainable development. Let this be a World Water Day which inspires governments, municipalities and utilities work harder and plan better to deal with the ever growing water and sanitation needs of everyone. It is our right. Water, after all is life. Sanitation is dignity. Thank you and I look forward to celebrate World Water Day 2011 with you in Cape Town.
HRH Prince Willem-Alexander
of the Netherlands
Chair of UNSGAB
World Water Day 2011
Water and Urbanization
Operator partnerships designed as a structured programme of cooperation among water operators, based on mutual support and on a not-for-profit basis. Such utilities are particularly important in the urban environment:
this recognition led UN-HABITAT to take the lead and host the GWOPA. Today it is genuinely encouraging to see how this initiative has grown up. We commend the efforts of the Alliance members who are contributing to the effort to implement concrete, hands-on capacitybuilding and thus enhance the efficiency of water and sanitation utilities.
The millions of people moving into cities around the world need potable water, sanitation services, and a wastewater system that keeps cities free of disease and ensures sustainable development. Let this be a World Water Day which inspires governments, municipalities and utilities work harder and plan better to deal with the ever growing water and sanitation needs of everyone. It is our right. Water, after all is life. Sanitation is dignity.
Thank you and I look forward to celebrate World Water Day 2011 with you in Cape Town.
HRH Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands
Chair of UNSGAB
Message from AMCOW
The African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) is pleased to join UN-HABITAT in co-organizing World Water Day (WWD) 2011. The global observance of WWD 2011, to be hosted by the Government of South Africa in Cape Town with the theme Water and Urbanization, is a good opportunity to discuss a range of options for tackling urban water and sanitation challenges facing the African continent.
In the last five decades, Africa has experienced an unprecedented demographic shift. In 1950, the urban share of the total population in sub- Saharan Africa was only 14.5 percent; in 1980 it increased to 28 percent and further increased to 34 percent in 1990. With an estimated annual average growth of 3.31 percent, the urban population is expected to reach 50 percent by 2020 and 60 percent by 2025. An even more significant figure is that today 71.9 per cent of urban Africans live in slums. This figure is 46 percent in Asia and a little over 30 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.
With only five years to the the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) deadline, managing water and sanitation in rapidly growing African cities and towns is undoubtedly an urgent priority for AMCOW. Although most African countries are still lagging behind in meeting the millennium targets, significant steps have been taken to fast track regional and national efforts aimed at addressing water and sanitation.
The 3rd Africa Water Week held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 22-26 November 2010, provided an opportunity to highlight positive steps being taken by African countries in translating into action regional commitments as outlined in the Sharm El Sheikh, Tunis and e-Thekwini declarations.
It is our hope that the global celebrations of WWD 2011 will build on the outcome of the 3rd African Water Week, especially in the African Caucus, which will bring together a high level panel composed of African Ministers, Mayors, Hon. Edna Molewa civil society organizations, representatives of development banks and the private sector to brainstorm practical steps in accelerating the achievement of MDGs in Africa.
Hon. Edna Molewa
The Main Global Event – 22 March 2011
The global commemoration of World Water Day 2011 will comprise three interactive panels composed of high-level dignitaries:
i) The African Caucus
The African Caucus will bring together African Ministers, Mayors, civil society organizations, representatives of development banks and the private sector to discuss a range of opportunities for tackling urban water and sanitation challenges facing the continent. The Panel will build on the outcome of the 3rd African Water Week held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 22-26 November 2010.
ii) Water and Cities Debate
The Water and Cities debate will hear how prominent mayors, International Association of Local Governments (ICLEI), representatives of development banks and international organizations are working with local governments to discuss water and sanitation challenges confronting local governments. The Panel will also brainstorm ideas, including policy and investments, required to improve the water and sanitation situation in a rapidly urbanizing world.
iii) The Global Forum
The Global Forum will comprise high-level dignitaries, heads of United Nations agencies, the African Ministers’ Council on Water (AMCOW) and prominent personalities from the media and private sector. It will summarize the outcome of the WWD 2011 global celebrations based on inputs from the regions and provide policy guidance based on a variety of approaches and ideas for accelerating efforts in reaching the Millennium Development Goal targets for water and sanitation. policy guidance based on a variety of approaches and ideas for accelerating efforts in reaching the Millennium Development Goal targets for water and sanitation.