The winners of the 2015 Water for Life Awards gathered at United Nations Headquarters to receive their awards on Monday 30 March. The winner in the ‘Best Water Management Practices’ category was Cultivando Agua Boa from Paraguay. ONE DROP Project India and DWS/WESSA Eco-Schools South Africa shared the award for ‘Best Communications and Awareness Raising Projects’.
“It’s a very important recognition for Itaipu,” said James Spalding, Director General of Itaipu Paraguay, of the Cultivando Agua Boa programme. “It’s an effort that started over 10 years ago, and it will continue over the next decades. For us this recognition will help us work closer with the communities and to move forward with promoting consciousness of the importance of clean and safe water.”
The award ceremony, officiated by Under Secretary-General for Communications Cristina Gallach, took place during the formal opening of the Water for Life Voices exhibition.
The exhibition celebrates the achievements of the ‘Decade for Action: Water for Life’. The Decade, which concludes this year, has been overseen by the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC), and the Water for Life Awards have been a key part of its operations since 2011.
ONE DROP Project India – an NGO created by Cirque Du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte – was awarded for its innovative communications methods, including shooting a Bollywood film. ONE DROP Chief Executive Catherine Bachand said: “For an organisation that is seven years old it is an immense privilege and a great honour to receive this award. For us this is about the message to the whole sector: that transformation is a profoundly human process, and perhaps not just about engineering. We need to build behaviour change if we are to build sustainable water access and sanitation projects.”
Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations for South Africa, Mahlatsi Mminele, who collected the award on behalf of Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) /WESSA, also spoke about the importance of recognition for upscaling water and sanitation projects, before joking that it felt familiar to be following South American speakers at award ceremonies because “They always beat South Africa at soccer.”
Water for Life Voices exhibition
A number of dignitaries shared their views on the ‘Water for Life Voices’ exhibition. Speaking on behalf of the General Assembly President, Mr. Einar Gunnarsson, Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations and acting GA President, said that the exhibition allows us to see good practices that can contribute towards achieving a new transformative development agenda.
“As we do so, the Water for Live Voices exhibition provides us with as tangible reminder of our collective efforts to address water issues and our inherent responsibility to do more,” he said.
Ms. Geeta Rao Gupta, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, highlighted that the exhibition goes beyond facts and figures of water and sanitation “to the voices of the people whose lives have been changed by a tap, or a well, or a latrine or a toilet.” She said that these voices speak of progress and the impact of our collective work over the last decade.
The exhibit, which will be on display at UN Headquarters until 14 April, shares the testimony of the beneficiaries of water projects and programmes from all over the world. The voices are categorized into those focusing on Progress during the ‘International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life 2005-2015’, Pride on achievements and Hopes for the future.
There is also a slide show on the Silent Voices of the planet with images on how glaciers, lakes and water sources have evolved over more than a decade. Visitors can use embedded QR codes to go beyond the voices and access case studies, thematic texts and videos via their mobile device.
The exhibit is organized by the United Nations Office to Support the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life 2005-2015’ and by the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development (both part of UN DESA) as well as by the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Korea. The exhibition is endorsed by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Tajikistan to the United Nations, the Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations, and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations.
The photo shows from left: Jorge Migeul Samek, Director General Itaipu Brazil; Guy Laliberte, founder of Cirque du Soleil; Catherine Bachand, CEO ONE DROP; Nelton Friedrich, Environment Director, Itaipu; Mahlatsi Mminele, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations for South Africa; James Spalding, Director General Itaipu Paraguay