Record-breaking Numbers at 8th World Water Forum

The 8th edition of the World Water Forum, co-organised by the World Water Council in cooperation with the Government of Brazil, received the largest number of citizens in the event’s history. The Forum gathered 120 000 citizens, including 12 000 delegates and experts.

Participants attended from 172 countries and they took part in over 300 topic-led sessions and events. Furthermore, decision makers from 525 institutions, and 150 city mayors, governors and state legislators, were given a platform to share their experiences and best practices on how best to ensure water security.

The 8th World Water Forum, celebrated the theme of “Sharing Water”, mobilising world leaders, practitioners and civil society to renew their commitment to tackling water security and related issues in an integrated manner. Particular attention was placed on amplifying the voices of youth, indigenous peoples and women’s groups, which are particularly vulnerable to the rising threats of water insecurity.

Igniting action and change on water-related issues and finding solutions to alleviate water crises were both paramount to reinforcing the global water community’s resolve to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6), ensuring access to water and sanitation for all by 2030. One manifestation of this commitment is the Ministerial Declaration, to which 56 ministers and 14 deputy ministers contributed. Entitled, “An Urgent Call for Decisive Action on Water,” the document was a result of several months of deliberations in the run-up to the

World Water Forum and denotes specific areas in need of constructive changes. These include: dealing with water scarcity; accountability of institutions; financing water infrastructure and management; nature-based solutions, and; encouraging transboundary cooperation.

As an additional outcome of the 8th World Water Forum, the sustainability declaration called for the urgent mobilisation of all parties to ensure a future in harmony with the environment. To do so, the declaration advocates that the UN, governments and societies should consider water as central to achieving sustainability.

“The 8th World Water Forum, has again demonstrated the importance of reinforcing political commitment to allocate greater funds to greater needs. We cannot achieve sustainable water resources management without engaging key people across all sectors,” explains World Water Council President, Benedito Braga.

The 8th World Water Forum 2018 outcomes included, among others:

  • Calls for broader strategic investment pathways, enhancing resilience and reducing risks in light of climate change;
  • Acknowledgement of the need to step up sanitation and wastewater services and re-use in new and different ways;
  • Identification of agriculture as a key water user and a sector which must be an integral part of the water debate;
  • The establishment of an integrated urban-rural approach to be applied for the planning and management of water resources;
  • The consensus that clear legislation and regulation are prerequisites for effective implementation and to enable public and private investments in water security;
  • The recognition of the need involves end-users in decision-making processes to address and overcome blanket policies and investments which do not recognise cultural and gender diversity indifferent political, economic and social contexts.

This year’s Forum also saw a balance of stakeholders in sessions during the Forum, leading to a higher percentage of women and youth participating in the Forum and voicing their perspectives. Women’s participation in decision-making bodies was described by many panellists as one of the greatest challenges our society faces.

“Let the experiences you’ve heard and learnt allow you to share and secure our water resources. Inspiring you to take action to improve something – big or small – in your life, for your organisation, or for your community. Let us create a ripple effect of the Forum’s spirit across our countries. This will be the real legacy of this extraordinary week putting water at the centre of the global development agenda,” concluded President Braga, in his final address during the 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia.