Draft of the suggestion of the Youth Task Force for the Youth declaration at the 6th World Water Forum
We, young people from all over the world, have gathered at the 6th World Water Forum to share with you our vision of the world we want to live in. In this declaration we underline what we think are the main challenges and how they could best be tackled.
The world will face daunting water challenges, strongly linked with other global issues such as world population growth, migration, climate change, land use, energy, agriculture, food security, natural disasters and green growth. We, the next generation, will have to face these difficulties if nothing is done today to tackle them.
The youth plays a vital role in solving the water-related problems addressed here at the 6th World Water Forum. We are independent, we are united in our aim of creating a secure future for all. We have the ability to bridge the divides between the developing and the developed, policy-makers and civil society, different cultures and we have a high stake in what is done today, to solve the problems of tomorrow. This is why it is important for us to engage in the national and international debates concerning these issues.
We want to stand up and voice what we believe cannot be neglected in order to ensure that every human being, young and old, has access to water and sanitation services and protection against water threats where needed. We call decisions makers to hear our voice and make engaging decisions today so that we can continue to work on a livable world in the future.
We recognize the efforts of all actors before and during the Forum – however we also observe that progress in solving water-related problems is often slow and difficult. We therefore urge everyone to take action and to involve youth in all efforts.
We, as the youth of the world, gathered our inputs for the 6th World Water Forum, which combine ideas for ways forward as well as specific solutions, and state the following:
1. Good governance and management
The water crisis won’t be resolved without strong and fair governance features in the management of water resources. It requires to deal with trans-disciplinary issues such as population growth, climate change, urbanisation, changes in consumption and production patterns) and will have important externalities on other policy domains (health, poverty alleviation, agriculture, energy etc.). Stakeholders need to build the right structures to work together to successfully implement solutions and policies.
We emphasise that :
1) The water crisis is mainly a management crisis. We stress that all stakeholders are responsible for the maintenance of the resource and should consume the resources with sense.
2) In order to ensure that the actions, opinions and needs of all who have an influence on and are influenced by water management are taken into consideration, assessments and decisions need to be backed up by multi-stakeholder engagement. It is important to take into account the expertise voiced by different actors including residents, policymakers, scientists, potential investors and enterprises who can participate in round table meetings, plan policies and assess investment opportunities.
3) The management of water resources must be adapted to geographical, political, economic, social and cultural particularities of regions. It is necessary to integrate the local community into decision-making processes through participatory approaches, to enable them to express their concerns and better understand the factors which influence the success of a project. It is crucial to create a sustainable access to water by thinking globally and acting locally. Specifically, this means incorporating all three nodes of sustainability and creating solutions that are economical - (at fair prices), environmentally friendly (by preserving ecosystems and biodiversity), and socially inclusive (by creating participatory democracy).
4) The importance of a long-term vision across all levels needs to be at the heart of the solutions. Building in the long term, in a sustainable way should become a priority and be encouraged and rewarded. For instance, competitions for the title of ‘sustainable city’ / ‘sustainable region’ could reward sustainable water management granting a label.
5) More transparency and accountability are needed while fighting against corruption in water management. Also, ethical frameworks, common principles, and a shared vision of our common future are required to address conflicts of interest in sharing water resources..
6) Good water governance and management requires efficient communication. Today's technological ability must be recognized to bring experts and population together. The spread of mobile phone should be efficiently integrated in water resource management technologies.
2. Global Governance of water issues
Learning from best practices is needed. Sharing knowledge and creating open source knowledge bases ais necessary to ensure the availability of crucial knowledge and techniques in every part of the world. The World Water Forum plays a fundamental role in mobilizing water stakeholders from all perspectives to create synergies and partnerships between each other to further connect them with elected politicians and other representatives of civil society in order to place water high on the global agenda and to progress toward water-related solutions. We support the framework adopted by the 6th world Water Forum with the development of SMART targets and the identification of concrete solutions to address these issues and the move towards implementation through action plans and commitments.
As youth water stakeholders, we strongly feel the need to cast in stone the importance of inclusiveness, continuity and working towards a better a better future together. Therefore we ask for a renewed commitment on the facilitation of input from all water stakeholders and continuity between the World Water Forums. Stronger structures are needed to ensure that the networks, knowledge and progress started in the previous Forums and other important events are linked and continued and that the next Forum builds upon it.
1. We call for a greater commitment of all stakeholders to work in the coming three years toward the implementation of the action plans agreed upon during the preparation and the sessions of the 6th World Water Forum, ensure continued input from the youth and other important stakeholders within this process and commit to report on the progress made at the 7th World Water Forum to be held in Daegu, Korea in 2015.
2. We urge the World Water Council and the organisers of the 7th World Water Forum to put in place a mechanism and appropriate tools that will help the youth to coordinate actions and report on the progress of our commitments so as to sustain the momentum and outcomes from this Forum and ensure proper reporting and further consolidation of our achievements in Korea in 2015;
3. We ask involved politicians and the World Water Council to collect all action plans and relevant solutions as validated by the 6th World Water Forum sessions and officially forward them to the Commission for Sustainable Development, together with this Declaration, as a contribution to the success of the Millennium Development Goals and the Rio+20 conference.
3. Access to Water and sanitation to all
We acknowledge that the recognition of the right to water and sanitation as a human right.in July 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution is a great step forward. However this is only a first step and it should be reinforced to bind states to scaling up efforts to ensure the provision of safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.
We salute the ongoing effort to reach the seventh goal of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), (halving the proportion of people with no access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by the 2015. However efforts should be increased, stakeholders should learn from their success and failures and dare to test alternative water management approaches, as community based approaches, social enterprises etc. keeping their focus on social needs, empowerment and human dignity, especially for the poor and marginalised etc.
4. Management of water supply and protection of water resources to meet human and environmental needs
Using common pool resources with fairness and moderation
Common resources of water must be managed by all stakeholders and equally shared among them. Therefore it is important to :
1) set up tools to monitor its use, such as the integrated water resource management (IWRM) methodology applied for general rivers basins, or for instance, the improved grasslands management.
2) Involve the economy and markets incentives in water use improvement. It has been proposed to create basin-wide water markets, to implement and improve water trade and to work out a payment for the environmental services system (PES).
Optimising water consumption in agriculture
Agriculture is the economic sector consuming the most water. Alternatives must be sought in order to minimise the water consumption. The use and management of water, but also the choice of crops and land to be used for agricultural purposes should match climatological and physiological to the irrigated area in order to prevent an overconsumption of water.
Practical solutions are:
- promoting organic polyculture to compensate for the negative impact of urbanization on peri-urban agriculture, against intensive agricultural production which causes a deterioration of the environment.
- promoting grassroots innovations. More research has to be undertaken to find innovative irrigation systems with low energy consumption adapted to all type of farmers. Small farmers especially shouldn’t be left aside. For instance, small irrigation schemes based on the use of motor-pumps can reduce the difficulty of watering for truck farmers imposed by the decrease of available water resources.
Improving water availability
Water is a necessary resource for human development. Availability of the resource is therefore important for economies to develop as well as families to prosper. This entails both the retention of water as using the water in an optimal and sustainable way:
1) Finding an optimal use of water in order to prevent waste is one of the major issues being faced today. To avoid waste, several levels of water use (domestic, industrial...) require attention and improvement.
2) In order to set up an optimal use of water, consumers also have a responsibility. Indeed, they should use what they really need: for example, restrictions such as the unnecessary use of drinking water for industrial purposes could be implemented
3) It must also be remembered that food production uses a lot of water. Therefore wasting food is wasting water. Reduction of food loss through regional food systems, better storage facilities and infrastructures will help limit the waste of water.
4) It is important to develop innovative solutions to capture and stock water, so that the resources is saved throughout the year. Promoting small scale water harvesting could improve the efficient use of rainfall by capturing it on or near the site. For example, the 100L Water Project is an innovative individual-targeted project working towards water storage. It is a user-centered design in rural India, including developing an integrated rainwater harvesting, storage, low-volume water delivery soar pump and purification solution targeted to the individual consumer. Another grassroot solution could be to set up large water tanks on top of mountains so that the water and ice stored from the winter months can be used during summer irrigations forward. Moreover, stormwater can be used to recharge aquifers, from where it can be re-abstracted for supply purposes at a later date
Water treatment is a key link in the water use chain, as it is indispensable from a ’users point of view and with regards to the environment. Water treatment contributes to both health improvement and environmental cleanup.
1) More research needs to be done to reduce the costs and increase accessibility to water treatment. Treated wastewater should be more often considered as an alternative source of water supply to help meet the increasing water demand, for instance by using grey water for domestic purposes other than potable water.
2) Water pollution should be evaded as much as possible. Cleaning polluted water before it enters the environmental system is of great importance and makes sure the polluters are carrying the costs of the treatment.
3) There are many possible solutions proposing cheap and simple alternatives using local material. For example, new treatment plant re-using garden refuse could be used as a source of carbon for the nitrate removal of treated landfill leachates. This solution aims at cleaning up waste waters and industrial effluents. Some African countries could use the volcanic rocks present in their ground.. Indeed, this volcanic rock, when activated, can be used as a low cost and environmentally friendly way of filtrating water.In the agricultural world, simple systems such as Biodigestor decontaminate and treat wastewater while producing biogas. A South African laboratory developed a very efficient water sanitizing filter that is cheap and easily manufactured from biodegradable materials. Another proposition is to improve the constructed wetlands technology for wastewater treatment, with active aeration or higher organic loads.
Education is crucial to enhance the awareness on water issues and to change to more responsible behaviour.
1) There is a need to empower people, especially the younger population, and make them a part of the solutions. Children should receive water and environmental education as they are one of the keys to spreading knowledge into their communities and safeguarding a knowledge base for the future. Skill development among young people is key to sustaining all the mentioned priorities.
2) Teaching children and youth how to use water is a step in the right direction, but it is not the sole answer. The youth should be more concretely engaged in implementation of water projects. The creation of Youth Water Clubs, which would bring awareness to the youth and the general population about proper water use and conservation through workshops, camping and conferences, has been emphasized. Training young teens between ages 11 to 15 to become peer educators in order to then promote the building capacity and to provide training for their younger siblings and neighbors, could increase the effectiveness of current hygiene promotion interventions. Young people should be taught ICTs, to facilitate communication in the cheapest possible way and to educate and advocate for environmental issues. In order to strengthen the effects of all solutions, academic and practical knowledge should be shared on a national, international and local level. International scientific discourses should be compared to local knowledge. It has been proposed to create a locally originated epistemic community, incorporating the nationwide epistemic groups and the collected local knowledge
3) To help people understand the issues and the difficulties of proper water management,Hydro-games could be a way to develop solutions for water management, at any scale from local to international and exploring the “what ifs” of water management.
6. Information, data and learning
It is crucial to share and leverage knowledge, experiences and information across all fields of expertise as the water crisis involves interdependent problems that must be solved simultaneously. This requires a highly multidisciplinary approach to issues.
1) An innovative way to achieve such a result is to use Open Innovation. These can be open brainstorming session which involve everyone in real meeting or through an internet-based platform. It is a way to crowd source innovations, learning, exchanging and to allow anyone to contribute with their knowledge and experience.
2) Processes of brainstorming by contributors from different backgrounds facilitates building solutions from a multidisciplinary perspectives. Open innovation is a way to reach new talent and ideas outside of the settled water community, companies, ministers and NGOs and to use experiences from different sectors and disciplines to solve the water crisis.
3) Crowd sourcing methodology is also away to engage young people in problem solving. Organising Water Hackathons and brainstorming session is a great way to raise awareness among the civil society but also to sparkle innovation for water and sanitation harnessing the untapped talent of civil society.
Enhancing access to data and information regarding hydrological matters is also a key solution to many decision making and management problems. This concerns both the way data can be shared and used and the models designed to provide insight in the resources:
1) Access to this information is often difficult. A web based database should be developed to share information and make it available to all, especially to decision makers. It should be equally open for the public including NGOs, enterprises, and research institutions. An example is the World Water Online (WWO) which aims at linking together the geospatial, climate and observation data and then distributing this data across the globe while conforming to standards.
2) More research should be done to develop innovative technologies and collect more accurate data. Evapotranspiration can be an input parameter of models managing integrated water, since it is a good estimator of climate change and the footprint of human activities impacting water resources and forest management. Multiple meteorological forecasts could also be used as an input to hydrological or multi-hydrological models in order to reduce uncertainty in forecasts. Models developed to compile data are also a useful tool within environmental management. For instance, the Phytomass Growth model (PHYGROW) maps hydrological resources, grazing and migration routes and water points conditions using relatively cheaper technologies, in order to optimize water uses.
7. Crises and risks management
Risks around water issues including natural disaster (such as flood, drought, hurricane…), or conflicts around resources should be managed with holistic plans.
1) Regarding natural disasters, we ask for more strategic planning of the impact of climate change and related disasters (i.e. droughts, floods ) with a multidisciplinary networking approach based on three levels of action (prevention, during and post-event) and above all a participatory management.
2) Risk management should take an holistic approach, focused on society. Committees involving representatives of civil society along with political managers and technical staff specialized in this type of situation should be created to prepare up front to the effects of different types of disasters, health emergencies, safety, urban planning and reconstruction.
3) Building resilience in every part of society is necessary to overcome the impact of natural disasters. This includes structures for food security (i.e. using a variety of crops), water harvesting, …?
8. Water, conflict and cooperation
Around the world, water is a source of life, but can also be a source of conflicts.
1) Common water management and cooperation must be strongly encouraged. Reinforcing soft power of weaker countries in hydro-politics could be a way to overcome asymmetrical capabilities.
2) Developing and sharing knowledge and tools for governance and management is necessary for the emancipation of the weaker parties and to find new solutions to old problems.
3) Building and reinforcing structures of good governance is of critical importance to avoid armed conflict or bring it to an end. Also, these structures can provide the appropriate legal frameworks must enforce made agreements.
4) Technological solutions as well as ‘soft’ solutions such as role plays, must be used to help communities to equally share and manage resources.