2015 UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza Conference. Water and Sustainable Development: From Vision to Action. 15-17 January 2015

Whose action? Media and Communicators

Sustainable water management is a sociopolitical issue – and the media can play an important role. They convey information and knowledge, which contribute to educating and sensitising the general public. But they can also serve as watchdogs by bringing attention to problems and holding those responsible accountable.
The media have an important role in taking the voices of people and civil society to governments. The role of the media may be to raise the volume - shock and inspire, educate and inform. Make politicians and water planners more in touch with ordinary people; those who face the daily challenges.
The role of the media and communicators as information multipliers is paramount to public advocacy and awareness-raising.

The UN-Water Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC) supporting the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life 2005-2015’, aims at sustaining global attention and political momentum in favour of the water and sanitation agenda at all levels. One of the Office’s main lines of work is media activities, mainly through media workshops and engaging the media in reflecting on their role in water governance.

Are you a journalist with an interest in the biggest challenges facing the world today? UN-Water would like you to apply for the media and communicators sessions which will take place at the UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza Conference in Zaragoza, Spain. The conference will provide an opportunity for media and communicators to discuss the challenges of the post-2015 water agenda with policy makers from all over the world, network, meet and interview internationally recognized figures with stories to share and take part in the UN international conference.


Water, Sanitation, Hygiene issues are at the core of sustainable development as they are closely linked to a number of key global challenges such as energy, food security, biodiversity, climate change, among others. Creating awareness and earning commitment from decision-makers for these issues (including cooperation, scarcity, pollution, disasters, etc.) is vital if we are to influence policies and practices that affect the lives of millions – particularly the disadvantaged. Media and communicators play a vital role in informing, communicating and advocating these issues.

The media and communicators sessions at the 2015 UN-Water Annual International Zaragoza Conference aim to move the water and sustainability communication agenda forward and better position the issues during the post-2015 period.


  • Position yourself as a thought leader in some of the most important issues facing the planet today;
  • Discuss the challenges to a sustainable water future #post2015 with policy makers from all over the world;
  • Develop contacts in governments, NGOs, business and UN delegates who can inform your communications for years to come;
  • Meet and interview internationally recognized figures with big stories to share;
  • Be part of a community of journalists writing regularly about water and sustainable development.

Programme agenda

16 January, Morning: Media session

The media plays an important role in influencing public opinion, attitudes, and actions. Politicians recognize that the media is an arena for advocacy that can shape and influence policies. This session will reflect on the role of media in communicating water, sanitation and hygiene issues: What interests the media? How is the new media environment influencing the communication process? What are the main sources of information the media uses? What are the main challenges in the communication process? What are public perceptions and how are they influenced by the media? What are the main capacity-building needs? What are the main media networks on these issues?

  • Discussion opener on the experts’ view of media role and the post-2015 agenda on water.
  • Roundtable on the role of media in communicating water, sanitation and hygiene issues.
    • Reporting WASH issues in Africa. Introduced and Facilitated by Fredrick Mugira, Vision Group and Water Journalists Africa. With examples from:
      • Barbara Lopi, Communications and Awareness Expert - Water Sector, SADC Secretariat, Botswana
      • Fazila Dahall, Executive Producer, Channel Africa – SABC, South Africa
      • Jimmy Okello, Radio Journalist, Radio Apac Ltd., Uganda
      • Kate Eleyi Obande, Journalist, News Agency of Nigeria, Nigeria
      • Joyce Nyokabi Chimbi, Journalist, African Women and Child Feature Service, Kenya
    • Reporting WASH issues in Asia. Introduced and Facilitated by Gareth George, Consultant, United Nations Office to support the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ 2005-2015. With examples from:
      • Saleem Shaikh, Environmental and Science Journalist, AlertNet Climate, Pakistan
      • Ranjita Biswas, Editor, Trans World Features, India
      • Marianne de Nazareth, Freelance Journalist and Adjunct faculty, St. Joseph’s College (PG), India
      • Meenakshi Shedde, Freelance journalist, India
      • Mohammad Faridur Rahaman, Senior Staff Correspondent, Channel i, Bangladesh
    • Tools, techniques and sources for reporting, advocacy and communications on water. Rockaya Aidara,Communications and Outreach Officer. Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)
    • Debate

16 January, Afternoon: Communicators session

UN agencies and programmes, NGOs, Governments, etc. organize communication campaigns to address specific issues. During this session, they will discuss different issues including: Who is doing what? What topics are covered? And uncovered? What works, what doesn't? Main lessons learned? What are the new communication challenges for the post-2015 development agenda? etc.

  • Discussion opener: Water communication campaigns and lessons learned: an analysis of progress during the last 10 years. Céline Hervé-Bazin, Author of Water Communication, Analysis of strategies and campaigns from the water sector
  • Roundtable: Feedback and reflections of campaign organizers. Facilitator: Gareth George, Consultant, United Nations Office to support the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ 2005-2015.
    • UN campaigns and World Water Day 2015 communications campaign. Daniella Bostrom, UN-Water Communications Manager
    • Ending Open Defecation Campaign, Christina Samson, Communications & Partnerships, United Nations Millennium Campaign
    • Reporting on taboos. Rockaya Aidara, Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)
    • Developing our communications sustainably. Innovative tools and props. Kristin Bender, president of Water IS Life
    • Improving the communication process between UN agencies and the local people. Divine Ntiokam, Founder, CSA Youth Network (Climate-Smart Agriculture Youth Network)
  • Debate

>> Media and Communication Session ReportPDF document


>> Conference Home

About the Conference

>> Conveners and partners
>> Objectives and expected outcomes
>> Conference flyerPDF Document
>> AgendaPDF Document
>> StructurePDF Document
>> ParticipantsPDF Document


>> Accommodation
>> Travelling to Zaragoza
>> Your stay in Zaragoza
>> Map

The vision

>> Rio+20
>> Water and sustainable development
>> Global commitments on water
>> A post-2015 global goal for water
>> Water and the Open Working Group (OWG)
>> The role of actors involved

The action

>> Capacity development
>> Financing and economic instruments
>> Governance frameworks
>> Technology

Action on…

>> Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
>> Water Resources Management
>> Water Quality
>> Risk management

14 January: Pre-Conference Side events and Technical Visits

>> Technical visit: La Cartuja
>> Technical visit: The Ebro River Basin Authority and its Automatic System for Hydrologic Information (SAIH)
>> Technical visit: Expo + Water Park
>> New sources: Wastewater reuse
>> Local level actions in decentralized water solidarity towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals
>> Water Footprint Assessment
>> Technological advances and Water Policy
>> Cultivando Agua Boa Programme
>> CODIA and water and energy in LAC
>> The fulfillment of the human right to water and sanitation

15 January: Setting the scene and the context

>> Achieving sustainable water for all in LAC
>> Achieving water security for Asia and the Pacific
>> Ensuring implementation of the water-related SDGs in Europe
>> Setting the scene

16 January: Whose action?

>> Academia
>> Business
>> Civil society
>> Governments and local authorities
>> Media and Communicators

17 January: Integrating knowledge and the way forward

>> Multi-stakeholder dialogue on tools for implementation


>> Cases
>> Conference daily
>> Conference Communications ReportPDF Document
>> Discussion forum
>> Information briefs on Water and Sustainable Development
>> Interviewing conference participants
>> Overview Papers
>> Presentations from participants
>> Session Reports
>> Tool Papers
>> Toolbox
>> Twitter Activity Report
>> Video recording of sessions
>> Video interviews with conference participants

Promotional materials

>> Conference banners
>> Conference posterPDF document