Switzerland at the 2018 World Water Forum in Brasilia

Press release, 20.03.2018

Water as a source of cooperation instead of conflict, access to clean drinking water, and involving the private sector in efforts for sustainable water resources management: these are Switzerland's priorities for the 2018 World Water Forum, which began on 18 March in the Brazilian capital. The World Water Forum is the largest gathering of its kind, bringing together representatives from politics, civil society, research and the private sector from around 120 countries. The theme of this year’s forum is sharing water. The Swiss delegation is being headed by Pio Wennubst, director of the Global Cooperation Department at the FDFA's Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Mr Wennubst has been accorded the title of state secretary for the duration of the conference in Brasilia.

Six women and nine men of different nationalities in front of a blue wall with the logo of the World Water Forum in Brasilia.
The participants of the High Level Panel Blue Peace in Brasilia. © FDFA

This year's conference is the eighth edition of the forum and has placed exchange and cooperation at the heart of its agenda – exchanging ideas from civil society, sharing approaches and best practices, and cooperating between sectors, institutions and states. Switzerland is also prioritising greater involvement for the younger generation in decision-making.

The World Water Forum gives Switzerland the opportunity to help shape the international policy dialogue on water and advocate for the development of practical approaches to sustainable water resources management. It is also a key platform to actively and effectively advance the global debate on the future of natural water resources, particularly with a view to the upcoming high-level political forum in New York in July 2018, where the progress made on the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goal on water will be assessed. The Sustainable Development Goal on water is to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.

Switzerland’s delegation is being led by Pio Wennubst, who is taking part in the forum as a state secretary, and is pursuing three priorities:
• Water as a source of cooperation: The fact that freshwater resources are often subject to competing uses, interests and approaches and are unevenly distributed can lead to tensions and conflicts. But water is also a starting point for cooperation and can help bring about stability and peace. To this end, Switzerland is part of the Blue Peace Movement and is committed in particular to strengthening water diplomacy (especially the use of dialogue and mediation to reduce tensions related to water resources management), exchanging water-related data, and funding studies in support of transboundary water infrastructure. In order to advance these priorities, yesterday Switzerland took part in the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace at the forum. It will also host the Blue Peace Talks at the Swiss pavilion this week, where initiatives and new approaches to water and peace can be showcased and young people can present their projects and ideas. “We need a positive dynamic to transform the fear over water scarcity into hope for better and more stable societies – this is what the blue peace movement intends to do,” says Mr Wennubst. “By encouraging every stakeholder to act, it will create a virtuous circle enabling water cooperation as a source of peace.”

• Access to basic sanitation: Switzerland has been involved in the preparations for the thematic events on implementing the human right to sanitation at this year’s World Water Forum. Putting people’s human right to water and basic sanitation into practice means ensuring the quality, affordability, accessibility, equality, sustainability and reliability of that access to water and basic sanitation for all, taking particular account of the needs of the most marginalised and disadvantaged sections of society.

• In order to make the 2030 Agenda water vision a reality, it is essential to engage effectively with the private sector – both as a supporting partner and a key contributor – and to hold it accountable. With this in mind, Switzerland will present both the factors for success and the challenges of working together with Nestlé in a public-private development partnership on sustainable and more environmentally-friendly coffee production in Vietnam. This topic will be highlighted at the Swiss pavilion and during the thematic sessions.

Switzerland’s country pavilion at the World Water Forum will be used as a platform for the SDC’s partners and members of the Swiss Water Partnership to showcase innovative technologies, know-how and experience in the water sector and to foster exchange with global actors on the different challenges and approaches. These discussions on how to improve access to water and sanitation facilities in rural areas will also involve start-up programmes supported by Switzerland, multi-stakeholder initiatives involving cooperation between the private and public sectors and civil society, and results from SDC initiatives including factors for success.

The World Water Forum takes place every three years and is organised by the World Water Council and host state.


Further information:

SDC article, 12.3.2018: Water: joint responsibility, joint solutions


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