Report on participation of SIC ICWC in the 8th World Water Forum

The 8th World Water Forum was held in Brazil from 17 to 23 March 2018 under the general theme - Sharing Water. The Forum received more than 100 thousand representatives of public authorities, academia and social community from 172 different countries. 74 thousand people visited the Citizen Village and the Fair; and 10.5 thousand were participants in more than 200 sessions at the Ulysses Guimaraes Convention Center and visited the Expo. The Forum hosted a lot of events with the active participation of youth, where delegates from the Central Asian countries took part as well.

During the Forum, the Prime Minister of Morocco, Saad Dine el Otomani awarded the King Hassan II Great World Water Prize to the Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Angel Gurria.

Official opening

The official opening ceremony of the Forum was held on 19th of March 2018. The opening was attended by 12 heads of State and Government, the Crown Prince of Japan, as well as high-level international authorities, and the event had the participation of representatives of important international bodies such as the United Nations, European Union, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, OECD among others.

The president of Brazil, Michel Temer welcomed the participants. He pointed to a need for joint efforts and emphasized commitments of Brazil with regard to implementation of the Agenda 2030. The efforts taken to achieve equal and equitable access to water for all were mentioned by the governor of the Federal District, Rodrigo Rollemberg. “Nothing unites more than water”, he told in conclusion.

The president of the World Water Council Benedito Braga put focus on financing, IWRM, and adaptation to climate change. The need to adopt innovative technologies, change behaviors and foster political will was underlined by the honorary president of WWC Loic Fauchon. He, particularly, drew attention to three pillars of the water world, such as governance, finance, and knowledge. He also pointed to the role of water diplomacy that needs to be promoted and is understood as “the art of building peace”.

The executive director of the United Nations Program for Environment (UNEP), Erik Solheim particularly welcomed the representatives of businesses and private sector. He encouraged sensitivity towards nature. It is worrying that the analysis of bottled water from famous brands in different countries found plastic particles in all samples. Thus, we should act responsibly.

The Forum’s program was structured under political, thematic, regional and citizen’s forum processes. The program also included meetings of business and sustainability focus group. The Forum’s outcomes are summarized below.

Political process

Ministerial Conference

The Ministerial conference was held on 19-20 March. From Central Asia, minister of energy and water resources of Tajikistan U.Usmonzoda, minister of water management of Uzbekistan Sh.Khamraev, and director general of the Department for water management and land reclamation K.Tashtanaliev made official statements during the conference. The speakers reported on activities undertaken in their respective countries in the area of water management and on the tasks to be solved, including in interstate cooperation.

The ministerial conference approved the declaration “An urgent call for decisive action on water”, which was the result of discussions between ministers and heads of delegations from more than 100 different countries. This document sets forth priority actions in addressing key water challenges.

It should be noted that before the official opening, the preparatory high-level meeting was held on 17th of March. During the meeting, official country delegations discussed provisions of the Ministerial declaration that were not approved by two previous preparatory meetings in Paris. The discussion lasted till midnight. Among official delegations from Central Asia, the counselor of the Kyrgyz Republic to the U.S. and Canada took part in the meeting.

Lasted discussions concerned inclusion into the Declaration of the points related to the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace and the fact that the UNECE Water Convention became global and any UN member state could join it. Turkey, Brazil and China had objections against recognition in the Declaration of the report issued by the Global Panel as their representatives did not took part in that work and they were not agree with some recommendations of the report. Particularly, Brazil was strongly opposed to bringing water issues to the UN Security Council, thought it inadvisable to hold global water conference and establish a new UN water body. It took time for China and Turkey to agree on formulation regarding UNECE Water Convention because of “exceptional sensitivity” of given matter.

Parliamentary Conference

The conference brought together 134 parliamentarians from 20 countries. The central theme of the conference was – The Role of Parliaments and the Right to Water. The Parliamentarian Declaration was issued finally.

Conference of Judges and Prosecutors

One of features of the Forum was the participation of the judiciary. The Conference of Judges and Prosecutors was attended by 83 judges, prosecutors, and experts from 57 countries and as a result issued a document, the “Charter of Brasilia”.

The Global Institute of the Public Prosecutors Office, which brings together members of public prosecution offices of the various nations of the world around topics related to the protection of natural resources, also drew up the “Declaration of the Public Prosecutor Office on the Right to Water”, which was signed by nine countries.

A mock water justice court was held for the first time in the Forum. The experiment was attended by judges from six different countries.

Conference of local and regional authorities

Representatives of local and regional authorities presented at the Forum released a Call for Action that encouraged all stakeholders to apply the following 5 recommendations:

  1. Promote sensitive integrated water practices, taking into account basic human rights and services and gender approaches, putting sanitation and access to quality water at the top of the water agenda;
  2. Bring forward legislation that enables fair, efficient and sustainable use of water resources, promote integrated urban water practices and energy efficiency, making use of technology when possible;
  3. Strengthen and increase decentralized funding and innovative finance mechanisms for water and sanitation projects;
  4. Promote urban water resilience through planning out risk and climate change adaptation and mitigation and protection of sensitive areas;
  5. Strengthen the capacity of local governments and citizens in water sensitive governance.

The World Water Council together with a number of partners released at the Forum the publication titled “Start with Water: Putting water on local action agendas to support global change”. The guide provides specific case-studies to help authorities to learn best practices and implement them, appropriately adapted, if necessary.

Thematic process

95 sessions, including a special women session, were held as part of the thematic process. The main topics included Climate, People, Development, Urban, Ecosystems, and Finance, and cross-cutting themes, such as Sharing, Capacity, and Governance.

Many sessions brought attention to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and to how to transform water management process to achieve these Goals successfully.

Deputy Director of SIC ICWC D.Ziganshina was invited as a speaker to two thematic sessions: session 8.a.2 “Education and training on water are not costs but investments” and session 9.b.2 “Monitoring, assessment, data and knowledge sharing in transboundary basins”.

Session 8.à.2 addressed issues of education and training for sustainable operation of water supply systems and water management as a whole. Representatives of public authorities, private sector, and regional organizations outlined their motivation for investments in education and training. Speakers mentioned a need for specialized water courses (such as business schools), establishment of links between professional development and career growth, more active application of ICT, increased investments in education and systems-based approach to training.

Representative of Veolia-LATAM told about their broad training programs and underlined that education programs were the key investments for sustainability of water supply systems. D.R.Ziganishina (SIC ICWC) raised the transboundary aspect of discussed issues by describing activities of the ICWC Training center and implemented research projects that contributed to development of training materials based on well-proven field practices. Particularly, she focused on a need for systems-based approach to training and for well-thought adoption of trainings from donor supported projects in the national professional development systems. Mrs. Ziganshina also emphasized that we should think not only about water education but also about inclusion of water topics in education on other associated specializations.

During session 9.b.2, the participants discussed how to improve data, information and knowledge collection and sharing to facilitate trust between riparian countries. Mr. Paul Haener from the International Office for Water told about establishment of the information system in the Chu-Talas basin. Mr. Robert Argent from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology showcased the key outcomes of the report “Good practice guidelines for water data management policy”, which was prepared by Australia under the World Water Data Initiative as part of its contribution to the High Level Panel on Water. Among the main seven elements to good practice in water data management he identified the following: 1) identifying the priority water management objectives, 2) strengthening water data institutions, 3) establishing sustainable water data monitoring systems, 4) adopting water data standards, 5) embracing an open data approach to water data access and licensing, 6) implementing effective water data information systems, and 7) employing water data quality management processes.

D.Ziganshina (SIC ICWC) presented the existing regional information system in the Aral Sea basin, while focusing on the data collected during implementation of the PEER Project “Transboundary Water Management Adaptation in the Amudarya Basin to Climate Change Uncertainties”. The speaker also identified further needed actions for the system. Those include: improvement of reliability of forecasts and access to them, enhancement of ownership among all the riparian countries with regard to data and information production and dissemination, continuation of joint training, development of special mechanisms to bring information to end users, making use of GIS and RS in data collection and models, strengthening of regional research-analytical base, establishment of partnerships with different stakeholders, and seeking of new unconventional interaction mechanisms.

Events on Central Asia

Side-event “Transboundary water cooperation for food, energy, and environmental security in Central Asia”

The side-event on “Transboundary water cooperation for food, energy and environmental security in Central Asia” was held on the 21st of March 2018. This event was organized by the Central Asian Regional Environmental Center (CAREC) together with the International Fund for saving the Aral Sea (IFAS), Scientific-Information Center of the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination in Central Asia (SIC ICWC) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

The Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Brazil H.E. K.Sarjanov, Minister of energy and water of Tajikistan Mr. U.Usmonzoda, Minister of water resources of Uzbekistan Mr. Sh.Khamraev, SDC Assistant Director General Pio Wennubst, Chairman of the Executive Committee of IFAS Mr. G.Bayjanov, Head of department, Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources of Turkmenistan Mr. B.Mommadov, Deputy Director of SIC ICWC D.Ziganshina and Mr. M.Yakubov from CAREC made presentations at this side-event.

Director of the Department for water and land reclamation, Kyrgyz Ministry of agriculture, food industry and land reclamation Mr. Kokumbek Tashtanaliev, Director of Executive administration of IFAS in Kazakhstan Mr. Bolat Bekniyaz, Director of IFAS GEF Agency in Uzbekistan, country representatives of the Executive Committee of IFAS and Uzbek delegation also participated in work of this session.

The participants underlined the importance of adopting joint affirmative approaches to water management and in addressing environmental water-related problems. Representatives of Central Asian states paid attention to a need for sharing experiences and studying best international practices in water sharing, for investment mobilization, ecosystem development, and innovative approaches for intersectoral coordination, as well as for improvement of water use in different economic sectors and of legal and institutional frameworks. Particular focus was made on more active efforts to address the global problem of the Aral Sea drying up. Representative of SIC ICWC in her presentation showed a unique role of the Interstate Commission for Water Coordination in Central Asia which had been operating to the benefits of the countries for more than 25 years. She also underlined a need for joint measures for mitigation of climate change and improvement of water management in the Amu Darya Basin (based on the outcomes of the PEER Project “Transboundary Water Management Adaptation in the Amudarya Basin to Climate Change Uncertainties”).

Session “Water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus as a tool towards SDGs in Central Asia and Caucasus”

This session was organized on 22nd of March as part of the Regional process by the Global Water Partnership for Central Asia and Caucasus. The session was held in form of moderated panel discussion. The panel members included Sh.Kuchkarov, Head of department at the Uzbek Ministry of Water Resources, D.Ziganshina, Deputy Director of SIC ICWC, and F.Abdurakhmanov, Coordinator of water portfolio, CAREC.

Speakers addressed different dimensions of water, food, energy, and ecosystem nexus, including political, socio-economic, institutional, and technical ones. It is important to treat the nexus as a part of integrated water resources management process and consider the unique role of water as the basic element of life that cannot be substituted. Meanwhile, nexus discussions are still limited by the water community only, except for rare exceptions. Information and knowledge on nexuses are either limited or fragmented in different sectors that lack coordination between each other. Thus, more attention should be paid to matters of education in order to improve understanding of nexuses.

Citizen Village, Fair and Expo

The Citizen Village and Fair was officially opened on 17th of March and occupied an area of 10,000 m2 at Brasilia’s National Stadium. This is open space for the public as part of the citizen’s forum process. That space hosted educational, cultural, and interactive activities to raise awareness, public attention and social participation concerning water-related issues, in addition to promoting innovative solutions for the problems that citizens face in their daily lives. The main spaces and activities included the Green nation museum, film festival, solutions market, arena as a meeting point, and the Brasilia Area. Children programs were in the focus of the Citizen Village and Fair as well. 30 employees and 150 volunteers served from 9 to 10 thousand visitors of the village every day. Finally, this innovation of the 8th edition of the Forum was visited by more than 75 thousand people, including 40 thousand children.

The Expo and the Fair featured 87 exhibitors representing national pavilions, public and private companies, as well as civil society organizations and associations. Tajikistan also represented its booth dedicated to the International Decade of Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028.

Sustainability Focus Group

Businesses and private sector took an active part in the Sustainability focus group. As a result of its meetings, a document was issued to ensure sustainable water use by corporations. This document contains provisions related to better interactions between companies and stakeholders to ensure safe water, provision of reliable information on drinking water supply and sanitation, and social and economic processes.

Closing ceremony and 9th World Water Forum

Preliminary results of political, thematic, citizen and regional processes of the 8th Forum were presented during the closing ceremony. The flag of the World Water Forum was passed to the delegation of Senegal, where the 9th edition will be held in 2021. The general theme of the Forum in Senegal will be water security for peace and development and the work will be organized in four directions – water security, cooperation, innovations, and water for rural area.

During the ceremony, the Kyoto Water Prize (equivalent of 18,000 US$) was awarded. A Christian Charity for People in Need organization based in Togo received the Prize. This organization helps individuals and community groups to improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation.


Three innovations of the 8th World Water Forum should be marked out.

First, more active involvement of civil society. The organizers repeatedly underlined that they were aimed to arrange preparatory process and the Forum itself, as much as possible, democratically and with involvement of the general public. As already mentioned above, about 75 thousand people visited the Citizen Village and Fair. However, the Citizen’s Forum process was shaded by the fact that last minute the grants for participation in the Forum of 110 civil society delegates were cancelled.

Second, invitation to the Forum of judges and prosecutors.

Third, broad e-consultations held will all stakeholders as part of preparatory process.