The annual Paris Peace Forum, meeting in November, included a panel presentation / “debate”, presenting cooperation initiatives around water contributing to peace and development, highlighting hydrodiplomacy with examples of solutions in transboundary basins, in preparation for the 9th World Water Forum.
“Blue Gold: Water and Cooperation for Peace and Development” convened with the theme that water crises generate political and social instability and threaten the security of populations.
These demonstrate that water management is a key factor in building resilient societies and economies. In a context of climate change defined by shortages, floods and droughts, the central question remains how to improve access to water for all as well as international cooperation around this strategic resource.
Panelist Abdoulaye Sene is President of the Organizing Committee and Executive Secretary of the 9th World Water Forum "Dakar 2021” (postponed to 2022). On the aims of the 9th Forum, Sene emphasises the current financing gap for water and sanitation and the importance of mobilising political will for prioritisation for access to water and sanitation, calling for a “working” forum for all parties from nation state leadership to international institutions and social organisations.
Panelist Danilo Turk, a former President of Slovenia, has also served as UN Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, and chaired the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace. He acts as Lead Political Adviser to the Geneva Water Hub. Turk mentions examples of special challenges in Ukraine and The Sahel in the context of water and conflict. He calls for recognition of the opportunity of joint investment plans for activities of river basin and shared-aquifer organisations and initiatives that pull together intellectual, economic, educational and social resources that respect geographical traditions.
Panelist Omar El Hattab is Senior Advisor, WASH in Emergency, Programme Division, with UNICEF. Hattab calls for mobilisation of all possible resources and platforms, observing the major challenge that the global pandemic has caused erosion of multiple initiatives.
The panel session was chaired by Fauziya Abdi Ali of Women in International Security (Horn of Africa).