Sustainable Water Management in Cities: Engaging stakeholders for effective change and action. 13-17 December 2010. Zaragoza, Spain
The conference was jointly organized by the United Nations Office to Support the International Decade for Action 'Water for Life' 2005-2015, which implements the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), the city of Zaragoza, and the SWITCH consortium - which includes both UNESCO-IHE and the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre.
The United Nations Office to Support the International Decade for Action 'Water for Life' 2005-2015 (UNO-IDfA) is hosted by United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and implements the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC). The Office facilitates information-sharing, implements communication activities and raises awareness in the framework of the Decade. The International Decade for Action 'Water for Life' 2005-2015 was approved by the United Nations General Assembly through its resolution 58/217 of 9 February 2004. The primary goal of the Decade is to promote efforts by different stakeholders to fulfill by 2015 the international commitments made on water and water-related issues. Such commitments include the Millennium Development Goals to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015, and the objectives established in the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development of developing integrated water resources management and water efficiency plans, and stopping countries from exploiting water in a non-sustainable way. The Decade provides a unique opportunity to build on efforts made to date to protect, use and manage freshwater resources in a sustainable manner.
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) is the United Nations agency for human settlements. It is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all. UN-HABITAT's programmes are designed to help policy-makers and local communities get to grips with the human settlements and urban issues and find workable, lasting solutions. The organization's mandate is outlined in the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements, Habitat Agenda, Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements, the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, and Resolution 56/206. UN-HABITAT's work is directly related to the United Nations Millennium Declaration, particularly the goals of member States to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020, Target 11, Millennium Development Goal No. 7, and Target 10 which calls for the reduction by half of the number without sustainable access to safe drinking water. UN-HABITAT's strategic vision is anchored in a four-pillar strategy aimed at attaining the goal of Cities without Slums. This strategy consists of advocacy of global norms, analysis of information, field-testing of solutions and financing. These fall under the four core functions assigned to the agency by world governments - monitoring and research, policy development, capacity building and financing for housing and urban development. UN-Habitat hosts the Global Water Operators' Partnership Alliance Secretariat at its headquarters in Nairobi. The Global Water Operators' Partnership Alliance (GWOPA) is a key global initiative with a common commitment to helping water utilities help one another. GWOPA helps establish direct and effective partnerships and networking among operators. The decision to establish the Global Water Operators' Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) stems from concern about the risk of missing the water and sanitation targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Utilities urgently need capacity support if they are to fulfil their crucial role in meeting the Millennium Development Goal targets for water and sanitation.
The SWITCH consortiumis led by UNESCO-IHE, Institute for Water Education, and includes activities on stakeholder engagement and social inclusion in urban water management that are led by the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. The international consortium has 32 partners from 13 countries and has been organized in partnership with the Directorate General Research of the European Commission. The aim of the project (2006-2011), working in cities around the world, is to make a significant impact through developing innovative and sustainable urban water management approaches, technologies and financing mechanisms.
The Zaragoza City Council is a partner of SWITCH and one of the demonstration cities for the project. It has shown remarkable results in water saving though the involvement of stakeholder groups in demand management. Water savings have been made possible through improvements in the distribution networks, reducing leakage associated with private connections, and promoting changes in the water consumption patterns of households.