Post-2015 Development Agenda Bulletin – Vol. 208 No. 2 – Post-2015 Development Agenda Consultation on Water – Final Summary

Jay Owen Sustainability News


Post-2015 Development Agenda Bulletin

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Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in collaboration with the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

Volume 208 Number 2 – Sunday, 3 March 2013


27-28 FEBRUARY 2013

The meeting on the Post-2015 Development Agenda Consultation on Water: Water Resources Management and Wastewater Management and Water Quality convened from 27-28 February 2013, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting, sponsored by the Government of Switzerland, is part of the Thematic Consultation on Water, coordinated by UN-Water, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). The meeting focused on two of the three streams of discussion under the Thematic Consultation: Water Resources Management (WRM), facilitated by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE); and Wastewater Management and Water Quality (WWMWQ), facilitated by UN-Habitat/AquaFed. The meeting brought together over 200 representatives from governments, international organizations, civil society and business to discuss these streams, review the outcomes of the online consultations taking place on the web platform, and debate how issues related to WRM and WWMWQ should be addressed in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Following the opening ceremony on 27 February, the meeting convened panel sessions on WRM and WWMWQ, followed by group discussions addressing the key priority issues that should be included in a Post-2015 Development Agenda, which then reported back to the plenary. On 28 February, six of the key issues identified during the group discussions were selected as themes for further consideration, including on: resilience to climate change and other global pressures; efficiency and reuse; transboundary cooperation; quality, protection, water quality and ecosystems; balancing uses and allocation; and governance frameworks and integrated water resources management (IWRM). Each of the groups discussed the following questions: what should be the future objectives to address the key water-related issues in a Post-2015 Development Agenda; what actions should be taken to achieve these objectives and can success be measured; and how are such objectives linked to other themes of both the water consultation and the other global thematic consultations? The meeting concluded with a wrap-up session summarizing the meeting’s conclusions.

This report summarizes the presentations and discussions held over the two days.


At the High-level Plenary Meeting of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), held in New York in September 2010, governments called for accelerating progress towards achieving the MDGs, and for thinking about ways to advance the UN development agenda beyond 2015. In response, the UN undertook several initiatives aimed at developing a Post-2015 Development Agenda, including: setting up a UN System Task Team on the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda; launching a High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda; appointing a Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning; and launching national and global thematic consultations.

In addition to the above, other processes that will feed into the Post-2015 discussions include: the work of the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals, a 30-member group mandated by the outcome document of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20) to prepare a proposal on sustainable development goals for consideration by the UNGA at its 68th session; regional consultations by the Regional Economic Commissions, which will result in a report on regional perspectives on the Post-2015 Development Agenda; inputs from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, set up by the UN Secretary-General in August 2012 to support global problem solving in ten critical areas of sustainable development; and input from businesses and the private sector through the UN Global Compact.

In order to ensure coherence across these different work streams, an informal senior coordination group of four Assistant Secretary-Generals (ASGs) was established, which includes the ASG for Economic Development at the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), ASG for Development Policy at the UN Development Programme (UNDP), ASG for Policy and Programme at UN Women, and the Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning. A “One Secretariat” has also been established to facilitate coordination and coherence across the work streams.

UN System Task Team: The UN System Task Team (UNTT), which includes more than 60 UN entities and agencies and other international organizations, was set up to assess ongoing efforts within the UN system, consult all relevant stakeholders and define a system-wide vision and roadmap to support the deliberations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. UNTT presented its report, Realizing the Future We Want for All, in June 2012, calling for an integrated policy approach to ensure inclusive economic development, social progress and environmental sustainability, and a development agenda that responds to the public’s aspirations for a world free from want and fear. The report will serve as a reference for broader and inclusive consultations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

UNTT, which is co-chaired by DESA and UNDP, will provide technical support to the OWG. It also aims to support the multi-stakeholder consultations being led by Member States on the Post-2015 Development Agenda by providing analytical inputs, expertise and outreach.

High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda: This Panel was launched by the UN Secretary-General in June 2012. Co-chaired by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, it includes leaders from civil society, the private sector and governments. The Panel, which reports to the UN Secretary-General and is not an intergovernmental process, is expected to publish its report in May 2013, outlining its vision and recommendations on a Post-2015 Development Agenda. This report will feed into the Secretary-General’s report to Member States at the Special Event on the MDGs in September 2013.

Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning: In June 2012, Amina J. Mohammed of Nigeria was appointed as ASG and Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning to coordinate, on behalf of the Secretary-General, the process of developing and building consensus among Member States, UN actors and key external actors. Mohammed also serves as ex-officio member on the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons (HLP), represents the Secretary-General in the Post-2015 debate and advises him on related matters.

National and Global Thematic Consultations: The UN Development Group (UNDG) initiated national and global consultations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda aimed at bringing together a broad range of stakeholders to review progress on the MDGs and discuss options for a new framework. The national consultations are taking place online and offline in more than 60 developing and developed countries, with national stakeholders exchanging information and providing their inputs for a shared global vision of “The Future We Want,” which was also the title of the Rio+20 outcome document.

At the global level, UNDG initiated 11 multi-stakeholder thematic consultations on: inequalities; education; health; governance; conflict and fragility; growth and employment; environmental sustainability; hunger, nutrition and food security; population dynamics; energy; and water.

Each thematic consultation is co-convened by two or more UN agencies with support by governments, working together with representatives from civil society, the private sector and academia. The consultations, which seek online contributions at the “World We Want 2015” website, aim to explore the role each theme could play in a new framework, the different ways in which they can best be addressed, and the linkages among them. A high-level meeting will be held for each thematic area to consider the results and recommendations of the consultations.

In addition, a survey called “MY World” allows citizens to vote online and offline for their development priorities, and acts as the public entry point to the Post-2015 development process.

WATER CONSULTATION: As part of the global thematic consultations, the water consultation, facilitated by UN-Water, DESA and UNICEF, was launched and further divided into three streams: Water Resources Management (WRM); Wastewater Management and Water Quality (WWMWQ); and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). The WRM sub-consultation addresses five themes: water for energy, energy for water; climate change and water-related risks; water for nature, nature for water; water for food; governing and managing water resources; and water for peace. The five themes around which the WWMWQ sub-consultation was organized includes: wastewater in an urbanizing world; impact of wastewater on oceans—nitrogen and phosphorous challenge; wastewater reuse—development, innovation; collecting and treating urban water after use; and economic opportunities in wastewater. The WASH sub-consultation addresses five themes: aspirational objectives of the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation; WASH in schools; WASH and governance—people, power and politics; WASH and environmental sustainability; and WASH and economic development.


In introductory remarks, Martin Dahinden, Director-General, Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, underscored the central role of water in addressing the most pressing global challenges today. Lamenting the low priority given to water access and sanitation issues in the international agenda, he noted the Geneva consultations provide an important building block in mobilizing broad-based global consensus.

George Yarngo, Assistant Minister of Public Works, Liberia, recalled the Third High-Level Panel (HLP) meeting held in Monrovia from 28-29 January 2013. Calling for global action on water now, he highlighted the following elements of the Monrovia Mandate, including that: the Post-2015 Development Agenda should be premised on the Africa Water Vision 2025; water is essential for attaining economic, health, educational, agriculture and food benefits; water is a prerequisite for maintaining ecosystem services and supporting climate change resilience; universal access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene must be ensured; wastewater is a resource in environmental and economic terms; and wastewater pollution impacts must be prevented and wastewater reuse ensured.

Maarten Gischler, Deputy Head, Water and Environment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands, noted that while the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have inspired politicians, influenced funding priorities and led to a global vision of development, one lesson learned from the process is that top-down and donor-led processes should be avoided. He stressed the importance of giving attention to voices from the ground and called for capturing the diversity of water narratives over the next two days into a compelling framework that demonstrates that water cuts across sectors and themes, including governance, conflict, fragility, food security and climate change. He underscored that the Africa Water Vision 2025 should be the guiding document for water resources in Africa and inspire the water agenda under the Post-2015 process as it moves forward.

Michel Jarraud, Chair, UN-Water, and Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization (WMO), provided an overview of the institutional and consultative processes towards a Post-2015 Development Agenda. He highlighted the proposed work plan for the 30-member Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the recent establishment of a UN-Water Working Group to coordinate consultations towards a possible SDG on water.

Sven Alkalaj, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), emphasized that water is not only crucial in itself, but that it also underpins other thematic consultations on the World We Want website, such as development, poverty and environmental integrity. Describing water as a “blind spot,” he highlighted lack of recognition of water issues by professionals working on agriculture, transport, energy and other issues, as one of the major challenges. He announced the entry into force of an amendment to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention), opening it for accession by all UN member states. He highlighted the complexity of upstream-downstream relations in water sharing and called for the inclusion of transboundary water cooperation in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Bert Diphoorn, Director, Human Settlements and Financing Division, UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), discussed key outcomes and messages of the recent online consultations on the World We Want website, including on: the political dimension of wastewater; challenges associated with urbanization; linkages to climate change; and the importance of reuse. On reuse, he stressed linkages to the green economy and the water, food and energy nexus, as well as the importance of demonstrating to politicians both the cost implications and economic benefits of waste. He reported that the website for the water consultation was the most visited of the eleven themes, and that this gave him confidence that a global and inspirational SDG on water can be established.

Maria Neira, Director, Public Health and Environment, World Health Organization (WHO), reported on the thematic consultation on Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) that was launched in Berlin in 2011. Noting the close interaction between WASH and human rights stakeholders, she highlighted five key messages from the process: expand the focus from the household level to take schools and health facilities into account; formulate simple and measurable WASH targets that build on the MDGs; address the sustainability of water supplies; take account of water governance issues; and make better use of the evidence base to highlight the costs of not investing in WASH.


WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT: Moderated by François Münger, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and Sibylle Vermont, Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, this panel presented key messages of the Water Resources Management (WRM) stream of the water consultations on the World We Want web platform, including on: water for food; water for energy, energy for water; climate change and water-related risks; water for nature, nature for water; water for peace; and governing and managing water resources for sustainable development.

On water for food, Peter McCornick, Deputy Director-General for Research, International Water Management Institute, said that since the demand for food will grow, water needs to be better managed. He emphasized the need to give priority to food production before producing biofuel crops. He highlighted improving technologies, practices and access to information, as well as reducing waste in the production chain, to ensure sustainable water use in agriculture.

On water for energy, energy for water, Joppe Cramwinckel, Director for Water, World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), reported that water pricing, and whether different prices should apply to the energy sector, was a hotly-debated topic. He also noted that the water and energy communities must talk to each other to better understand the impacts of energy on water. On conclusions, he stressed having one global water goal that recognizes the importance of water to different sectors, including energy.

On climate change, Michael Glantz, Director, Consortium for Capacity Building, University of Colorado, observed “you cannot have the future you want without the climate you want.” Noting that decision makers have difficulty in dealing with “creeping problems” with no clear threshold of change, he challenged water stakeholders to develop an unequivocal political message that equates ecosystem wellbeing with human survival. On how to scale up coordination efforts, Glantz called for equal attention to adaptation and mitigation and emphasized that scientific uncertainty should not be used as an excuse for inaction.

Anada Tiéga, Secretary General, Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, addressed water for nature, nature for water. Emphasizing the need to build infrastructure without destroying nature, he called for water management for peace and climate change adaptation.

On water for peace, Gábor Baranyai, Deputy State Secretary for European Union (EU) Sectoral Policies, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hungary, noted that conflicts over water are rare, but could become an emerging issue. Summarizing the main conclusions from the discussions, he highlighted: international water law should be the basis for cooperation; transboundary agreements are extremely important and effective; and international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have important facilitative roles.

Ruth Beukman, Executive Secretary, Global Water Partnership (GWP) Southern Africa Regional Partnership, summarized key messages from the governance thematic consultations. She highlighted the need to address governance at all levels and tackle limited implementation capacity through targeted technical and institutional capacity building with a focus on cross-sectoral approaches. She noted a key gap in the discussions was how to secure sustainable financing.

During discussions on the interlinkages between the WRM sub-themes and the linkages between water and other post-2015 themes, McCornick called for context-specific decision making. He noted the need for: improving efficiency; informing consumers on the water intensity of food products; understanding the impact of agriculture on water resources; ensuring equitable decision making among farmers; looking at existing practices when making policy decisions; and considering agricultural water in the broader context of trade, environment and development.

Tiéga highlighted: connectivity between land and sea; the role of water in managing conflict; and the need for a strategy to address droughts and other climate change impacts. Emphasizing nature as a framework for organizing development, he cautioned against destroying the water cycle.

Cramwinckel underscored the energy sector’s responsibility to be part of the water process and debate as their technologies and solutions can benefit other users in the watershed. He also noted the changing nature of the energy mix, for instance increasing use of biofuels, and links to the food and water sectors.

Baranyai discussed the importance of institutionalized international cooperation, encouraging countries to join existing regimes, and broadening the scope of institutionalized international cooperation to better address groundwater. He also stressed bottom-up approaches and engaging NGOs and the public in this process.

Beukman called for a goal that clearly links socioeconomic development, environment and resilience. She said it should be an action-oriented goal that identifies the investment needed to mobilize cross-sectoral collaboration.

WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT AND WATER QUALITY: Moderators Münger and Vermont introduced the panel, which discussed the key messages of the WWMWQ stream of the water consultations on the World We Want web platform, including on: wastewater in an urbanizing world; impact of wastewater on oceans—the nitrogen and phosphorous challenge; wastewater reuse—development and innovation; collecting and treating urban water after use; and economic opportunities in wastewater.

Graham Alabaster, Chief, Waste Management and Sanitation, Urban Basic Services Branch, UN-Habitat, noted the consultations on wastewater in an urbanizing world highlighted the lack of clarity on urbanization, saying it is one of the key drivers of climate change, and noting that smaller urban areas often lack the capacity to address water and sanitation issues. He said the goals should take into account how local communities will implement them.

Vincent Sweeney, Coordinator, Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land Based Activities, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said the consultations on the impact of wastewater on oceans called for focusing on public-private partnerships and developing the capacity of local authorities. He noted suggestions on the establishment of baselines for monitoring wastewater management along with a number of possible indicators.

Katharine Cross, Programmes Coordinator, International Water Association (IWA), said the consultations on wastewater reuse stressed the need to ensure that wastewater management solutions: are sensitive to local circumstances, operational and sustainable; include capacity building; and highlight the risks and benefits of water reuse. She also noted the need for transparent water safety guarantees to build public confidence.

Gérard Payen, President, AquaFed, discussed the consultation on collecting and treating urban water after use, highlighting that globally, 80% of this wastewater is not collected and treated. Reporting on the feedback received, he noted unanimity on four key points: collection and treatment of wastewater is necessary in both developed and developing countries; collection and treatment is part of the human right to sanitation; building a global vision is useful as it would stimulate national policies and regulatory frameworks; and urgent action is required.

Anthony Cox, Head of Climate, Biodiversity and Water Division, Environment Directorate, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), addressed economic opportunities in wastewater. He highlighted three main messages from the online consultations: the “reduce, remedy and reuse” strategy for wastewater collection; lack of information on non-conventional uses and reuses of wastewater; and rebranding “wastewater use” as “water use” to remove social stigma.

During discussions, Cox highlighted the importance of taking a holistic view on WWMWQ, with financing and economics of water being a crosscutting issue, and having a clear consideration of affordability issues. Alabaster noted the opportunity for a water goal to address the entire cycle of wastewater management by identifying the right incentives.

Sweeney highlighted the convergence with discussions in the sub-stream on the impact of wastewater on oceans. He noted thematic convenors had focused on the need to collect, reduce and reuse water for ocean health. Cross stressed that any future SDG must be adaptable to national contexts and should put forward an achievable timeframe. Additionally, she noted the necessity of recognizing how a potential goal interacts across the nexus.

Payen noted two risks in the global debate on goals: oversimplification of issues, providing the example that collection and treatment are distinct issues and both should be targeted; and differences in priority issues between developed and developing countries in addressing water quality and wastewater management.

HIGH-LEVEL INTERVENTIONS: Highlighting legislation, and monitoring and compliance processes for wastewater management in his country, Khaled Fahmy, Minister of State for Environmental Affairs, Egypt, emphasized the need for, inter alia: collective effort and broad coordination and cooperation to enhance water revenues; a comprehensive and realistic assessment of current and future water needs; application of the no-harm principle; and development of guiding principles on water resources quality at the global, regional and national levels. He said that the approach to the Post-2015 Development Agenda should be based on the MDGs.

Mariyam Shakeela, Minister of Environment and Energy, Maldives, emphasized water security is a major issue for the Maldives, which faces saltwater intrusion, contamination from low-lying septic tanks, climate change, lack of financial and technical capacity for wastewater treatment, and strain on the national budget related to transporting water during droughts and storms. She stressed that water and sanitation are human rights and that climate change must be integrated into the water agenda.

Commending the focus of the meeting on WRM and WWMWQ, Sarah Reng Ochekpe, Minister of Water Resources, Nigeria, highlighted access to water, water availability, climate change impacts and migration-related issues as major challenges in her country. She noted the Presidential Summit on Innovative Funding of the Water Sector, 18-19 February 2013, held in Abuja, Nigeria. Highlighting the relationship between sustainable water management, climate change and poverty alleviation, she urged giving priority to water in SDGs.

Kedebe Gerba Gemosa, Minister of Water and Energy, Ethiopia, described his country’s efforts to improve access to WASH services. While recognizing the importance of wastewater management, he noted that the priority for developing countries is to ensure universal access to water.

Sulton Rahimov, First Deputy Minister, Ministry of Melioration and Water Resources, Tajikistan, noted that the theme of water for energy and energy for water was especially relevant for his country. He outlined several themes that will be the focus of the High-Level International Conference on Water Cooperation in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in August 2013, including: peace and security; environmental sustainability; and partnerships and cooperation.

Roberto Araquistain Cisneros, Vice-Minister for Law, Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, Nicaragua, underscored the need for ecological values to safeguard water resources. He remarked that, on 27 February 2013, Nicaragua commemorated the third anniversary of a pact to promote solidarity with Mother Earth.


In the afternoon, participants split into eight discussion groups addressing the question “Within both WRM and WWMWQ, what are the key priority areas that should be included in a Post-2015 Development Agenda?” The groups were chaired by: Alice Aureli, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Joachim Harlin, UN Development Programme (UNDP); Josefina Maestu, UN-Water; Anthony Cox, OECD; Maggie White, Associate Secretary General, International Secretariat for Water; Roland Schertenleib, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation; Chris Baker, Wetlands International; and Thomas Chiramba, UNEP. Each group elected a rapporteur and then broke into pairs to identify key issues. Pairs then shared their results with the groups, followed by a general discussion. The pairs wrote key issues on post-it notes, which were clustered by theme, and each participant then voted on the themes they identified as most critical. Three to five key messages were identified for presentation by the rapporteurs back to the plenary.

PLENARY DISCUSSION: Rapporteur Patrick Nickisch, United Religions Initiative, reported that the group identified two overarching issues, including the need to simplify the WRM message and learn from climate change adaptation practice. Stressing the importance of allocating time, money and human resources to each, the group highlighted several priorities, inter alia: implementation frameworks for action; a normative framework to underpin implementation frameworks, including stakeholder engagement and “water accounts”; education and capacity development, including up-scaling practices, and sharing technology and best practices; innovative WASH service provision; increased agricultural water productivity, considering both water allocation and security issues; climate change impacts in urban and peri-urban areas; and improved governance for equitable water use.

Rapporteur Jens Liebe, UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development, framed the discussion in his group under two main clusters. He said they labeled the first “sustainable water resources in terms of quality and quantity,” and incorporated six sub-clusters: water quality; nexus issues; efficiency; reuse; managing water-related risks; and valuing ecosystems. He noted the second cluster identified by the group focused on “governance and planning,” in which a transboundary perspective, and data collection and monitoring, were included.

Rapporteur Sanjeev Chadha, Region President, Middle East and Africa, PepsiCo International, identified the following key issues: politics and governance; addressing water overuse and ensuring its equitable allocation; protecting water from pollution; collecting, treating and reusing wastewater and treating it as a valuable resource; and area water collaborations in view of high interactivity.

Rapporteur Sascha Gabizon, Executive Director, Women in Europe for a Common Future, identified five core issues that could inform a sustainable development goal on water: recognizing water as a fundamental human right; fostering efficient use and reuse; legal frameworks for watershed and transboundary water management; adequate financing for integrated planning and institutional capacity building; and sharing best practices, for instance on cost recovery for water supply services, technology transfer and capacity building.

Rapporteur Lucilla Minelli, Division of Water Sciences, UNESCO, said her group identified four priority issues: water security; balancing supply and demand; resilience to climate change and extreme events; and inclusive processes for allocating water resources.

Rapporteur Lionel Goujon, Agence Française de Développement, France, reported his group identified three key priorities: mechanisms for water allocation at all levels; efficient use and reuse; and frameworks for monitoring water goals.

Rapporteur Peter Bjørnsen, UNEP-Risø Centre, reported his group identified the need to distinguish between defining a goal and the much broader Post-2015 Development Agenda. He said his group voted for the following top five clusters: water for the environment, including sustainability and ecosystem services; water quality; floods and droughts, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation; universal access; and balancing the uses of water resources. He reported that the reuse, remedy and recycle principle received fewer votes.

Rapporteur Katharine Cross, IWA, highlighted that her breakout group identified the following five priority actions: the need for cooperation between upstream and downstream riparians; fair and equitable access to shared water resources; preventing pollution impacts on water; capacity development; and resilient adaptation.

During discussions, one participant drew attention to mainstreaming water in the macro-economy and ensuring that the role of water across sectors is clear. A number of participants called for greater emphasis on measurable targets for a possible water SDG.


In the morning on 28 February, participants broke into discussion groups on six themes identified as priorities during the breakout groups on 27 February, including on: resilience to climate change and other global pressures; efficiency and reuse; transboundary cooperation; pollution, protection, water quality and ecosystems; balancing uses and allocation; and governance frameworks and IWRM. Each group discussed three questions: what should be the future objectives to address the key water-related issue in a Post-2015 Development Agenda; what actions should be taken to achieve these objectives and can success be measured; and how are such objectives linked to other themes of the global thematic consultation?

POLLUTION/PROTECTION/WATER QUALITY/ECOSYSTEMS: This session was moderated by Graham Alabaster, UN-Habitat, with Mark Smith, IUCN, as Rapporteur. Participants discussed, inter alia: how to avoid shifting focus from the development agenda to conservation; how to frame issues to attract the attention of politicians; aspirational framing of targets, including monitoring; focusing not on protecting but rather on managing ecosystems; unified thinking on aspirations; water service chain benefits; how environment relates to economic resilience; and how to achieve political relevance by focusing on economic benefits of managing ecosystems.

Participants framed three ideas for targets: increasing the proportion of treated wastewater; achieving outcomes for development by budgeting for water infrastructure, including management of ecosystem services; and reducing the impacts of pollution, wastewater and ecosystem degradation. Participants also highlighted the need for, inter alia: a human rights approach; national targets on pollution reduction; and sustainable monitoring systems. They stressed the linkages of pollution, protection and water quality issues to health and education sectors, as well as Post-2015 thematic consultations on health, food security, energy, poverty reduction and inequalities.

RESILIENCE/CLIMATE CHANGE: This session was moderated by Karin Lexén, Stockholm International Water Institute, and Blanca Jiménez-Cisneros, Director, Division of Water Sciences, UNESCO, was Rapporteur. Participants engaged in a discussion to identify linkages between water, resilience and climate change, and formulate key issues that could inform a target on water. Key issues highlighted by participants included: bridging the present and future; implementation; financing; resilient adaptation; mitigation; ecosystems deterioration; infrastructure; cross-sectoral linkages; education; limiting the impact of extreme weather events and climate change on water. The group concluded by formulating a goal, which would include cost-effective measures for the protection and integrated sustainable management of water resources into their adaptation, mitigation and resilience strategies to cope with the impacts of climate change and other global pressures.

TRANSBOUNDARY COOPERATION: Following introductions by Moderator Lesha Witmer, Business and Professional Women International, and Rapporteur Sonja Koeppel, UNECE, participants broke into three small groups to identify key transboundary cooperation objectives.

Group one identified equitable use and basin protection, and basin-level water sustainability as objectives. Group two identified: prevention of disasters; trust-building measures; implementation plans; fair and equitable use; conflict reduction; and bilateral and multilateral agreements and the establishment of joint bodies and institutions. Participants noted lack of agreement over whether these were means to a larger objective, such as protection of ecosystems, or objectives in and of themselves. Group three said the objective is the creation of a river basin organization through a legal agreement based on agreed international water law, for each basin and aquifer encompassing all basin states.

The objective was reframed by the entire group as “establish or strengthen joint bodies or institutions with a legal basis encompassing all riparians for every basin and aquifer.” Other participants emphasized the importance of highlighting cooperative development in a fair and equitable manner, with another adding that this might be acceptable only if the principle of no-harm was also included. Participants debated whether to reference reasonable and equitable use or to reference the obligation to cooperate more broadly on the protection of ecosystems.

Participants then discussed possible indicators to measure the objective of the establishment or strengthening of joint bodies or institutions. Participants suggested that indicators capture: number of basin organizations; governance structure; stakeholder involvement; financial support for joint bodies; and level of implementation. One participant suggested benefit sharing as the basis for cooperation, while another said this would be a useful impact target. The group identified possible indicators as: gross domestic product (GDP); water per capita; ecological water flows; ecosystem services; water-use efficiency; implementation rate, established through annual reporting; incidence of harm; benefit sharing; status of water quality; and exchange of data, common database and monitoring systems. Participants highlighted lack of agreement on the respective benefits of various indicators and their inclusion in the list.

BALANCING USES/ALLOCATION: This session opened with brief introductions by Moderator Federico Properzi, Chief Technical Adviser, UN-Water, and Rapporteur Pasquale Steduto, Chief, Water Resources, Development and Management Service, Land and Water Development Division, UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

Following a first round of discussions to identify possible objectives, actions and linkages, the group identified two broad objectives: developing a robust evidence base; and ensuring a holistic view of water use needs, while ensuring the human right to water. On actions, the group called for implementation of WRM and WWMWQ programmes at all levels and a focus on education and capacity development to promote a water culture. With regard to linkages, the group identified the most relevant sub-sectors as equity, health, agriculture, energy, biodiversity, and good governance and transboundary cooperation.

After the second round of discussions, participants identified a water allocation target as: ensuring transparent, equitable and sustainable mechanisms at the basin, national and transboundary level in order to create a balance among human, food, energy, domestic, industrial and ecosystem needs. Possible indicators for measuring this target included, inter alia: water accounting and monitoring, availability, use and consumption; quantity; presence of participatory mechanisms; technology dissemination; and human resource development.

In the general discussion, participants highlighted the difficulty of arriving at more precise and measurable targets and suggested that they build on existing monitoring frameworks, such as the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme. Some speakers also highlighted that it may be difficult to adopt some indicators due to limited finances and human resource capacity.

EFFICIENCY/REUSE: Following introductions by Moderator Guy Hutton, Water and Sanitation Program, and Rapporteur Jack Moss, AquaFed, participants broke into two groups to identify objectives and targets as well as associated actions, indicators and linkages. Group one focused attention on agricultural water consumption, proposing a policy-oriented target of improving water-use efficiency by 20% by 2025 and elaborating examples of cascading actions. Participants underscored monitoring systems at national, local and system levels. Group two focused on users and framed their discussion in terms of “use water less, use water better, and use water again.”

Upon reconvening, the larger group decided to merge the target of “improve water-use efficiency by X% by X date” with the three-part framework on water use. Under “use water less,” participants included: addressing every sector; consumptive and non-consumptive uses; allocation in terms of environmental flows, as well as supply and demand; watershed-level management; and smart technology. Under “use water better,” participants noted, inter alia: reducing pollution; encouraging users to optimize use; monitoring and measuring systems; pro-poor perspective; and balancing allocation between sectors. Under “use water again,” they included: water as a resource; capturing resources in water; clear policies that encourage reuse; and separating dangers at the source. Participants also identified linkages with cross-cutting issues, including: climate; nutrition and food security; ecosystems; food wastage; sanitation; energy; and land use.

During further discussions, participants focused on indicators, underscoring the need for an optimal combination of pricing, subsidies, regulations and management plans. In terms of tools, participants identified: encouraging clear policy objectives; education and awareness; information; pricing, regulations and incentives; and water-smart technologies. On tentative actions, the group identified: targets for which benchmarks can be established; improving data sets; and creating policies directed at reuse.

GOVERNANCE: This session was moderated by Nathaniel Mason, Overseas Development Institute, UK, with Mohamed Ait Kadi, Chair, GWP Technical Committee, Morocco, as Rapporteur.

During the first round of discussions, the group identified one broad objective on the need for an integrated water governance system at all levels, based on the principles of transparency, participation, accountability, fairness, equity, sustainability, empowerment and cooperation. On how best to measure this target, two options were put forward. One proposal was to create new indicators, possibly building on existing agreements, such as the Johannesburg Programme of Implementation and the Rio+20 outcome document. A second proposal called for countries to set their own criteria, with some noting this could help rebalance criticism of the top-down nature of the MDG process.

At the start of the second round of discussions, participants voted to adopt a set of universal indicators, but noted that implementation should take into account different contexts. During the brainstorming session, the first group identified three indicators related to the principles of participation and sustainability: ensuring by 2030 all stakeholders within a basin context are organized at all levels; ensuring viable financial systems are in place to support water programmes and investments; and establishing thematic monitoring systems.

The second group discussed how to contribute to the fundamental themes of the Post-2015 Development Agenda, highlighting: strengthening institutional linkages on water governance; identifying economic development opportunities from WRM and WWMWQ; and redressing past inequities.

The third group identified four groups of indicators linked to the priority themes from the meeting. On transboundary management, the group identified: the number of basin management plans in place; better information and linkages to balance supply and demand; and capturing human and ecosystem needs. On adaptation and resilience, participants listed: reducing the impact of drought and floods on deaths and GDP; ensuring emergency warning systems; and addressing consumption patterns. On inclusive mechanisms for water allocation, the group called for a system of water use and ownership rights.


In the afternoon panel, co-chaired by Francesca Bernardini, Secretary, UNECE Water Convention, and Federico Properzi, Chief Technical Adviser, UN-Water, the Rapporteurs reported on the outcomes of the group discussions and participants discussed the outcomes and the process for moving a water goal or target forward.

On pollution, protection, water quality and ecosystems, Rapporteur Smith emphasized the importance of distinguishing between ecosystem protection and ecosystem services management for the development agenda. On the three ideas formulated in his breakout group, he stressed: that increasing the percentage of treated wastewater should be understood in terms of reducing the amount of water returned to nature untreated; understanding the value of ecosystems for budgeting based on costs and benefits; and thinking about impacts in terms of political relevance. Noting that a global goal would need to be translated to the national level, he stressed that in developing targets and indicators, monitoring should be considered not only for tracking progress, but also for leveraging political focus.

On resilience and climate change, Rapporteur Jiménez Cisneros noted the challenge of translating the concept of resilience in an accessible way. Drawing on the example of loss of glaciers in Bolivia, she emphasized the importance of resilience for WRM, and its linkages with mitigation and adaptation. She further stressed the need for more preparedness to reduce water-related risks and implementation of national adaptation plans. Emphasizing the need to ensure that water is part of SDGs, she said water security should be included in the objective or target on WRM or finance, and called for considering any global change impacting on water. She then reported on the goal formulated in her breakout group.

On transboundary cooperation, Rapporteur Koeppel reported that there were different points of view on the objective. She noted identification of the objective to “establish or strengthen joint water governing bodies/institutions with an international legal basis encompassing all riparians for every basin or aquifer,” adding that the word “international” remained under debate. She highlighted the rationale as “ensuring equitable and sustainable use for protecting basin ecosystems and the wellbeing of people, including benefit sharing.” Explaining that participants agreed that a number of these indicators would require further elaboration and debate, she identified possible indicators as: the number of basins without a joint body/institution; involvement of major groups; number of joint/collaborative projects; ecological flow; sharing of costs and benefits; status of water quality; and the existence of a common database and joint monitoring system. She said indicators that received less consensus included: water per capita; income per capita; extent of permanent funding for the body by the riparian countries themselves; ecosystem services; water-use efficiency; implementation rate; and existence of basin-wide warning and alarm system.

On balancing uses and allocation, Rapporteur Steduto reported that the group had highlighted a set of higher-level objectives reflecting political as well as process-oriented aspirations, followed by specific actions to quantify water resources and manage demand in an equitable way.

On efficiency and reuse, Rapporteur Moss reported that the group made progress in identifying tools, but were less successful in formulating actions or targets. He noted that discussions often focused on allocation, and the benefits of taking a water-cycle approach within watersheds versus a product-cycle approach that cuts across watersheds. He also highlighted the discussions on the concepts of water intensity and traceability, and applying water-smart technologies. On targets, he reported that under the target of improved water-use efficiency by X% by X year, two sub-targets were included: to increase the reuse of water by X% by X year; and to reduce by X% the amount of water used in agriculture.

On governance, Rapporteur Ait Kadi underscored the opportunity to raise the profile of water in the Post-2015 process. Stressing that this will require a fundamental change in values, mindsets and political decision making, he expressed hope that a good governance system can contribute to this.

During general discussions, participants identified a number of gaps in the proposed targets and indicators, calling for: a higher priority for strategies to reduce water pollution; gender equity; means of implementation; and elaborating next steps to achieve the identified targets.

Participants emphasized: linkages between water security and sanitation; the importance of formulating a goal on water as a message that politicians can understand; access to basic water and sanitation in Africa, and its implications for health; involving the private sector; elevating the water process to the SDG level; and flexibility in addressing how SDGs need to be developed as no SDG can be taken in isolation from the rest.

Participants also focused on: how the outcome of the meeting will feed into the High-level Consultation on Water to be held in The Hague from 21-22 March 2013; and the post-2015 development process in general.

On next steps, one participant called for better articulation of water targets to reflect not only the components of a water target in the SDGs but also a compelling political message that will elevate the status of water issues. Another noted the need to better reflect synergies across the six themes, and further consolidate and rank priority actions. Panelists noted consideration of cost-effective objectives and quantitative metrics as a possible way forward in formulating a SDG on water.

Co-Chair Bernardini said the outcomes of this meeting and of the broad Thematic Consultation on Water will be presented in The Hague, providing an opportunity to incorporate priorities of water stakeholders in the final report of the HLP and the OWG roadmap. She added that the meeting organizers will focus on consolidating key messages and disseminating them to a broad spectrum of stakeholders.

Co-Chair Bernardini said that a detailed summary of the global consultation will be posted online for comments. She said that the purpose of the Geneva meeting was not to come up with a possible framework for an SDG on water so as not to preempt negotiations; however, she said the outcome of the consultation and the Geneva meeting would be summarized in a short document as a means of kick-starting further discussion.

In an intervention from the floor, Carlos Ortuño Yañez, Vice-Minister of Water Resources, Bolivia, noted that his country attaches the highest importance to water, with the Constitution recognizing access to water and sewer systems as a human right. He reported that Bolivia had met the MDG target prior to 2015 as a direct result of a 100% increase in public investment. On a future water SDG, Ortuño Yañez stressed that focus should be placed on means of implementation, international financing and technology transfer.

During a brief closing panel, Assistant Minister George Yarngo, Liberia, reiterated the key messages of the Monrovia Mandate and underscored that basic rights to water and sanitation should be met worldwide. He re-emphasized that the MDG process was top-down, and now, moving forward with an SDG on water, the global community has an opportunity to capture voices from all segments of society.

Maarten Gischler, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands, announced ministerial support in the Netherlands for an SDG on water. He noted that the upcoming consultation in The Hague aims to elevate water to the highest possible political level and produce a concise message articulating why water is so essential for our future and our planet.

François Münger, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, stressed the importance of consolidating the key messages from this consultation, noting that the political process will start quickly. He emphasized that all participants should work as advocates in the process and place water on “the front line of the Post-2015 Development Agenda.” The meeting concluded at 5:34pm.


High-Level Consultation on Health: As part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda Global Thematic Consultations, this High-Level Leadership Meeting will bring together Member States and civil society to discuss and develop agenda suggestions on health for the Post-2015 Development Framework. The meeting is scheduled to take place from 5-6 March 2013 in Botswana. This consultation is co-led by UNICEF and WHO, and co-hosted by the Governments of Botswana and Sweden.  dates: 5-6 March 2013  location: Gaborone, Botswana  www:

High-Level Consultation on Population Dynamics: As part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda Global Thematic Consultations, this High-Level Leadership Meeting will bring together Member States and civil society to conclude the global consultations on population dynamics for the Post-2015 Development Framework in March 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This consultation is co-led by the UN Population Fund, UN DESA, UN-Habitat and the International Organization for Migration, and hosted by the Government of Switzerland, with support from the Government of Bangladesh.  dates: 11-12 March 2013  location: Dhaka, Bangladesh  www:

High-Level Consultation on Conflict, Violence and Disaster: As part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda Global Thematic Consultations, this High-Level Leadership Meeting will bring together Member States and civil society to discuss and agree on an agenda on conflict and fragility for the Post-2015 Development Framework. This consultation is co-led by UNDP, the Peacebuilding Support Office, UNICEF and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, and hosted by the Government of Finland.  date: 13 March 2013  location: Helsinki, Finland  www:

Meeting of Open Working Group on SDGs [tentative]: The OWG on SDGs is expected to begin its work in a meeting to be convened in mid-March 2013, according to a 20 February letter from the UN General Assembly (UNGA) President: date: 15 March 2013 [tentative]  venue: UN Headquarters  location: New York, United States of America  www:

POST-2015 Thematic consultation on Environmental Sustainability: As part of the 11 Global Thematic Consultations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, this High-Level Meeting will bring together sponsoring governments, participants from the UN and civil society, among others, to discuss and define recommendations on environmental sustainability in a future framework. This consultation is co-led by UNDP and UNEP, with support from the Governments of France and Costa Rica.  dates: 18-19 March 2013  venue: Real Intercontinental Hotel  location: San José, Costa Rica  www:

HIGH-LEVEL CONSULTATION ON EDUCATION:As part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda Global Thematic Consultations, this High-Level Leadership Meeting will bring together Member States and civil society to discuss and define agenda recommendations on education for the Post-2015 Development Framework. It is scheduled to take place from 18-20 March in Dakar, Senegal. This consultation is co-led by UNICEF and UNESCO, and co-hosted by the Governments of Senegal and Canada.  dates: 18-20 March 2013  location: Dakar, Senegal  www:

High-Level Consultation on Water: As part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda Global Thematic Consultations, this High-Level Leadership Meeting will bring together Member States and civil society to discuss and define recommendations on water for the Post-2015 Development Framework from 21-22 March 2013, in The Hague, the Netherlands. The meeting will be held in conjunction with the World Water Day celebrations. This consultation is facilitated by UN-Water and co-led by UN DESA and UNICEF, and co-hosted by the Governments of the Netherlands and Switzerland.  dates: 21-22 March 2013  location: The Hague, Netherlands www:

FOURTH MEETING OF THE HIGH-LEVEL PANEL OF EMINENT PERSONS on THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA:The fourth meeting of the UN High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (HLP), hosted by the Government of Indonesia, is scheduled to take place in Bali, Indonesia, from 25-27 March 2013. The focus will be on Global Partnerships.  date: 25-27 March 2013  location: Bali, Indonesia  www:

High-Level Consultation on Food and Nutrition: As part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda Global Thematic Consultations, this High-Level Leadership Meeting will bring together Member States and civil society to discuss and agree on an agenda on food and nutrition for the Post-2015 Development Framework. This consultation is co-led by FAO and the World Food Programme, and co-hosted by the Governments of Spain and Colombia.  date: 4 April 2013  location:Madrid, Spain  www:

High-level Meeting on Energy and the Post-2015 Development Agenda: This High-level Leadership Meeting is part of the Global Thematic Consultation on Energy. Participants will consider the results of the online consultations and their recommendations. The meeting is expected to develop an “Oslo Declaration” on key energy recommendations and potential global energy objectives, with the aim of informing and shaping the Post-2015 Development Agenda on energy issues. Participants will also discuss processes for engaging with key national, regional and global stakeholders on energy. The meeting will be organized by UN-Energy and the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, the co-leaders of the Consultation, in partnership with the Governments of Mexico and Norway.  date: 9 April 2013  location: Oslo, Norway  www:

HIGH-LEVEL CONSULTATION ON GROWTH AND EMPLOYMENT: As part of the Post-2015 Development Agenda Global Thematic Consultations, this High-Level Leadership Meeting will bring together Member States and civil society to discuss and agree on an agenda on growth and employment for the Post-2015 Development Framework. This consultation is co-led by UNDP and the International Labour Organization (ILO).  date: TBD  location: TBD  www:


UNCSD or Rio+20

Assistant Secretary-General
UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs
Global Water Partnership
High-Level Panel
International Water Association
integrated water resources management
Millennium Development Goals
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Open Working Group on SDGs
Sustainable Development Goals
UN Conference on Sustainable Development
UN Development Group
UN Development Programme
UN Economic Commission for Europe
UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UN General Assembly
UN Children’s Fund
UN System Task Team
Water, Sanitation and Health
World Business Council for Sustainable Development
World Health Organization
Water Resources Management
Wastewater Management and Water Quality

The Post-2015 Development Agenda Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <[email protected]>, publishers of theEarth Negotiations Bulletin © <[email protected]>. This issue was written and edited by Camellia Ibrahim, Elena Kosolapova, Wangu Mwangi and Anna Schulz. The Editor is Leila Mead <[email protected]>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <[email protected]>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by UNECE. IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (in HTML and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <[email protected]>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, New York 10022, USA.

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