Submitted by Maria on Mon, 09/11/2017

Blog by Maria C Lindelien, IUCN's Global Water Programme

Embarking on the final quarter of 2017 (yes already!), World Water Week gave participants some sneak previews into the topics that will be headlining the water agenda in 2018.

In the event titled ‘Join us on the road to Brasilia,’ convened by the 8th World Water Forum Secretariat and the World Water Council (WWC), attendees were provided with information on the 8th World Water Forum which will take place in Brasilia, in March 2018. The overlaying topic for the eighth edition of this Forum will be ‘Sharing Water’.

“All told, there are more than 270 internationally shared river basins, which serve as the primary source of fresh water for approximately 40 per cent of the world's population. That is why it is essential that nations cooperate to ensure water is shared equitably and used sustainably.”  UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres

The 8th World Water Forum Announcement from August 2017 also makes an explicit link between “the importance of water not only for human survival, but also for sustainable development”. The importance of water in achieving all the SDGs was also put in the spotlight by the Hungarian President, János Ader during the opening of the ‘Building a Resilient Future through Water – High Level Panel’ where he showed a graphic of how almost each and every one of the SDGs tie into water in one way or another.

Water is at the heart of development and is important for achieving the SDGs”  - Hungarian President, János Ader

I see our Building River Dialogue and Governance (BRIDGE) project as an example of moving from high level rhetoric to action on the ground as it applies the key messages and overlying themes from international events, such as “Sharing Water” into local, district and national level actions by building water governance capacities through learning, demonstration, leadership and consensus building in transboundary river basins. In cooperation with the IUCN Environmental Law Centre, the water programme developed an infographic to illustrate BRIDGE’s approach for achieving water cooperation, for improved water sharing, across boundaries.

A second session saw UN Water outline World Water Day preparations, which will take place on 22 March, - during the previously mentioned World Water Forum in Brazil. This year’s theme will be ‘Nature for Water’. The theme is proposed by UN Water corresponding to a current or future challenge. In 2018 UN Water chose this theme to “show the potential of nature-based solutions for water and how they can be considered for water management policy and practice.”

There is no doubt that 2018 is gearing up to be an important year for water putting the focus on cooperation and the solutions nature already offers. World Water Week 2017 provided an excellent framework to present some of the work that has been done up until now on the topics, and from the energy and anticipation I witnessed, 2018 will see interesting contributions and follow-up actions.