Date: 8-10 January 2013
Place: Zaragoza, Spain
In preparation of the 2013 International Year of Water Cooperation, and World Water Day 2013, the 2012/2013 Zaragoza International Annual UN-Water Conference focused on how to make water cooperation happen. The conference identified the best approaches to promote effective cooperation at different scales and how we can do 'better' in water cooperation through sharing lessons from experiences, and inspiring participants to do 'better'.
The conference introduced the key skills required for water cooperation, with particular attention to their important role in the process of negotiation and mediation and with examples of their application in national and international water settings.
The outcomes of the conference included:
"Successful water projects can serve as templates around the world and help to stimulate the adoption of green economies." The three-day UN-Water conference in Zaragoza, Spain, discussed examples of successful water projects as well as how to adequate manage the world's limited water resources. Experts predict that the amount of water needed by humans could exceed the amount available by as much as 40 per cent by 2030, making water management a priority in the sustainability agenda. Water is also closely linked to the green economy because it is interwoven with sustainable development issues such as health, food security, energy and poverty. The conference served as a preparation process for next year's UN Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20.
The event placed a special focus in showcasing already successful projects of how water can be a major contributor to developing a green economy. At the end of the conference, UN-Water issued a draft best practice guide to actions, instruments and policies to progress towards a green economy for sustainable development and poverty eradication.
Considering the theme selected for World Water Day 2011 ‘Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge’, the Municipality of Zaragoza, the United Nations Office to support the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ 2005-2015/UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication, the SWITCH consortium and UN-Habitat organized an international conference which brought together key stakeholders to move forward the international agenda and share solutions for the sustainable management of water in cities. The conference was also an intermediary step in the preparation of World Water Day 2011.
A dedicated website offers daily updates from the conference and specific information for media.
Sustainable, efficient and equitable management of water resources has never been as important as in today's world. More than ever, it is the world's water and wastewater utilities that are central to achieving global goals of environmental protection and universal access to water and sanitation services.
As the providers of drinking water for the majority of the world's population, water operators have great power to communicate, show by example, and inspire their customers about the urgent need to act in solidarity towards common environmental and development goals. Increasingly, water operators' are engaging in awareness campaigns, international development, corporate social responsibility efforts, and sharing their skills through water operators' partnerships.
This role of water operators as leaders in the efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals and other international commitments on water and sanitation was the focus of this 2-day meeting. The meeting, jointly organized by the United Nations Office to Support the International Decade for Action 'Water for Life' 2005-2015/UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNO-IDfA/UNW-DPAC) and UN-Habitat, focused on communication strategies and water operators' partnerships as the essential tools of water operators in playing their full role in this urgent global effort.
International journalists, experts and a number of other participants from more than 35 countries participated in a seminar organised on the role of media and communicators by the United Nations Office to Support International Decade for Action "Water for Life" 2005-2015/UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC).
Through the Media Consultation, UNW-DPAC intended to raise awareness about the connection between water and climate change, explore the role of communicators in shaping public opinion, and identify best practices and information-exchange methods, among others. The conclusions pointed out that the role of media and communicators as information multipliers is paramount to public advocacy and awareness-raising. Besides, the United Nations' commitment to the information and communication was strengthened.
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