Hungary is organising a meeting called ‘Budapest Water summit 2013’ to be held in October 9-11 in Budapest. We consider it as an important milestone in our endeavour of making efforts to give water high profile in the international political processes as started in 2011 during our EU presidency and continued in the run up to the Rio+20 conference and its follow up including the Friends of Water process and other activities
What are your expectations for the International Year of Water Cooperation 2013 (IYWC)?
Water is more and more recognised as a strategic natural resource requiring global attention (just to mention the still insufficient overall water supply and sanitation situation or the aspect of water scarcity, extreme weather events, anthropogenic pollution, etc.).
The IYWC will draw increased attention to water and water-related issues all over the world giving more attention to the issue at political level as well among others through the planned international and national events. It is important that the Year draws attention to the water in its complexity having in mind its cross-cutting character. The year is aiming to address cooperation in a wide sense, including e.g. trans-sectoral, interdisciplinary or stakeholder cooperation. Living in a typical transboundary country, we, in Hungary also hope that the international cooperation aspects will be given the necessary attention and these aspects get increased acknowledgements also globally. Progress towards the global water convention and global water governance is also hoped to be facilitated by the Year. More bi- and multilateral agreements are also expected since firm legal and institutional basis are essential for successful transboundary water cooperation.
Hopefully the “Out of the water box” thinking will also be strengthened since proper integration of water aspects into other sectoral policies as well as development policies and financing schemes is necessary to make progress towards water-related goals. The Danube river basin can be taken as an example where dialogue has been organised with such important sectors like agriculture, detergent industry, hydropower already and more will follow.
What will be the role of the meeting in Hungary in the IYWC?
Hungary is organising a meeting called “Budapest Water summit 2013” to be held in October 9-11 in Budapest. We consider it as an important milestone in our endeavour of making efforts to give water high profile in the international political processes as started in 2011 during our EU presidency and continued in the run up to the Rio+20 conference and its follow up including the Friends of Water process and other activities. The main aim of the Budapest conference is to contribute to the post Rio+20 UN processes especially to the development of the global water goals by providing opportunity for stocktaking and forward-looking discussions, focusing on possible solutions on most topical water related questions like drinking water supply and sanitation, integrated water resources management, international water cooperation, innovative water related technologies. We are fully aware that water should be among the sustainable development goals and also be properly placed in the post 2015 development framework. We count on cooperation and participation of all those sharing responsibility for the future of this scarce resource.
How can the Zaragoza Conference in your view contribute to the IYWC?
Being the last pre-event of the official launching of the IYWC to be held in Paris later in January, the Zaragoza conference has the privilege of setting the scene for the Year. We particularly appreciate the increased focus on transboundary cooperation aspects. Thanks for it to UN-Water and UNECE.
During the conference, good examples of cooperation can be introduced from all continents which can be multiplied anywhere. Elaboration of the “Lessons learned” document of the conference can help in the dissemination of these good practices. The format of the conference allows that during the sessions, participants initiate discussions between water users, environmentalist focusing on specific questions and problems. Participants will get an overview of different techniques and models for water cooperation to improve among others transboundary cooperation, water efficiency of water services for cities and rural areas. Results of the conference will be taken into account in the preparatory process for the Budapest conference as well and messages will be integrated as far as possible.
Which key message would you like to deliver for the Zaragoza Conference?
I would like to focus on the transboundary aspects of water cooperation. It should be emphasised that international legislative tools are basically available. Focus should be put on the implementation. Further and improved cooperation is needed at all levels (regional, watershed, bi- and multilateral) to maintain a well functioning transboundary water management. Upgrading of some existing outdated bilateral agreements is also necessary to make them suitable for regulating basin wide transboundary cooperation. It should be emphasised that national activities are of basic importance for the successful fulfilment of international obligations.
Other important aspects of practical implementation:
Facing new challenges: increased attention be given to water quantity aspects (especially in the context of climate change) to water allocation also in transboundary context as well as the increasing role of groundwater in water supply.
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