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World Water Forum 2012 - Host Country and City Selected

On 19 June 2009, the World Water Council selected Marseille, France as the city and country to host the 2012 World Water Forum. The selection followed a rigorous process for evaluating the candidates and a final vote from the Council’s Board of Governors. The World Water Forum is the world’s largest water gathering that brings together over 20,000 political leaders, NGOs, government officials, water professionals, and scientists every three years. “Thank you for your confidence and for this important challenge you have given us”, said Martine Vassal, Deputy Mayor of Marseille.

In an effort to benefit from the excellent quality of the two final candidatures, France and South Africa, the Governors of the World Water Council suggested that the countries work hand in hand. “Our engagement to host the World Water Forum in 2012 is very strong and we really want to work together to bring solutions to the world’s water challenges,” Vassal continued, stressing the candidates’ will to join forces. Prior to the vote, South Africa and France both had agreed to a partnership for the preparation of the next Forum. As such, when Marseille was selected, it extended an invitation to Durban, South Africa to be a full partner in the years running up to the Forum. “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”, said one of the participants in the Board, emphasizing the unique opportunity that this partnership entails. After extending his congratulations to France, Kevin Wall, Alternate Governor of the World Water Council representing the South African candidacy, committed the full support of South Africa to the success of the World Water Forum in 2012 in Marseille. “We are very happy to be part of this process and enthusiastic to offer our experience.”

The French candidacy showcased a will to engage people regionally in the global debate around water, but at the same time made it clear that debate is not enough. Through its candidacy, France committed to making the World Water Forum in 2012, “the Forum of Solutions”, drawing from the many concrete successes that France has had in the environmental domain.

The Council’s decision comes three months after the successful 5th World Water Forum that took place in Istanbul (Turkey) in March. During its meeting in Madrid, the Council’s Board of Governors also reviewed the outcomes of this Forum. It commented on the major progress made through the signing of the Istanbul Water Consensus by over 100 cities from around the world. The accord promotes local action to deliver water and sanitation services and manage water resources sustainably. Over 20,000 people from 182 countries participated in the 5th World Water Forum, under which 90 Ministers, 250 Parliamentarians and 300 Mayors.

The Council’s Board committed to put in place a thorough follow-up to the 5th World Water Forum feeding into the preparations of the World Water Forum 2012. In particular, more emphasis will be put on consultations with stakeholders at the (sub) regional level so as to ensure that sound proposals for solutions to the world water crisis are put forward in Marseille in 2012.

The meeting of the World Water Council’s Governors comes as we are at a crossroads in how we use and govern the world’s limited resources. Increasingly citizens and political leaders recognize that water forms a vital element for vibrant economies and healthy societies, and is key to sustain the ecosystems we depend on. Yet, despite growing attention, water resources continue to dwindle and billions still lack access to proper water supply and sanitation.

The Council’s Governors reviewed this situation and discussed the strategic directions for the World Water Council. They expressed a clear need to deepen the dialogue on vital issues such as sanitation and the linkages between water, energy and agricultural production. They also indicated the need to broaden the engagement for water involving a wider variety of stakeholders that depend and impact on water resources. Furthermore, they indicated the need to mobilize further political will, for example to realize the Millennium Development Goals or to adapt to climate change and pro-actively prepare for disasters.

Hosted by its Spanish member organizations and the Canal Isabel II Foundation, the Board finally discussed its General Assembly in October 2009 when the full Council with its over 200 members will meet to agree upon the strategic directions for the years to come.