With greater commitment to water security, 8th World Water Forum sees record-breaking numbers

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 some 120,000 citizens, including 12,000 delegates and experts.

Participants from 172 countries were in attendance, taking part in more than 300 topic-led sessions and events. Furthermore, decision-makers from 525 institutions and 150 mayors, governors and state legislators, were given a platform to share their experie4nces and best practices on how best to ensure water security.

Celebrated with the overarching theme of Sharing Water, the 8th World Water Forum mobilised 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 achieve 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 needs of constructive changes. These include dealing with water security, financing of water infrastructure and encouraging transboundary cooperation, among others

An additional outcome was the sustainability declaration calling for the urgent mobilisation of all parties to ensure a future in harmony with the environment. To do so, the declaration advocates that the United Nations (UN), governments and societies should consider water as central to achieving sustainability.

Some of the outcomes of the 8th World Water Forum included, among others:

  • Calls for broader strategic investment pathways, enhancing resilience and reducing risks in light of climate change
  • Identification of agriculture as a key water user and a sector which must be an integral part of the water debate
  • The consensus that clear legislation and regulation are prerequisites for effective implantation and to enable public and private investments in water security
  • The establishment of an integrated urban-rural approach to be applied for the planning and management of water resources.

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

The Forum also saw a balance of stakeholders in sessions, leading to a higher percentage of women and youth participating and voicing their perspectives. Women’s participation in decision-making bodies was described by many panellists as one of the greatest challenges 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,” Braga said in his final address during the 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia, Brazil. “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.”