The 2013 Budapest Water Summit Highlights

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Fredrick Mugira
October 13, 2013

The three day Budapest Water Summit came to an end on Friday, 11 October after almost a week of interesting activities all aimed at discussing, in particular the development of water-related goals for the post-2015 development agenda.

The summit in the fine-looking capital of Hungary brought together high-level representatives from government, international organizations, civil society and academia.

During the Opening Session of Budapest Water Summit
During the Opening Session of Budapest Water Summit

It was characterized by a Summit Plenary, Science Forum, Civil Society Forum, Youth Forum and a Business Leaders Forum.

During the sessions and high-level panels, several issues were discussed. These included among others : striving for universal access to water and sanitation; addressing water, sanitation and hygiene issues; implementing integrated water resources management (IWRM) for the 21st century; serving a growing population with water in a changing climate; addressing the water-energy-food nexus; implementing good water governance; governing water wisely with smart SDGs; enabling a green economy for blue water; investing and financing to address the global water and sanitation crisis and related SDG; and leveraging finance.

As the summit came to an end during Friday evening, a plenary discussed the Budapest Water Summit outcome document titled “The Budapest Water Summit Statement: A Sustainable World is a Water Secure World.”

The statement was later adopted.

In particular, this statement calls for development of a dedicated and comprehensive Sustainable Development Goal on water, a “Water-Secure World.”

Key speakers during this summit included the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In his remarks, Ban highlighted the importance of water in sustainable development: “Water holds the key to sustainable development. We need it for health, food security and economic progress…“We must address unsustainable use… We must use what we have more equitably and wisely. We cannot expect governments to do this alone. Guaranteeing a water secure world will require the full engagement of all actors, not least the world of business.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Addressing the Budapest Water Summit
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Addressing the Budapest Water Summit

Margaret Chan, the Director General of World Health Organization, argued that improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene services is a: “proper strategy on a grand scale.” She also lamented that the limited political power of women means that some of the most powerful advocates of WASH have no voice.

Margaret Chan, the Director General of World Health Organization addressing the Budapest Water Summit
Margaret Chan, the Director General of World Health Organization addressing the Budapest Water Summit

Bai Mass Taal, the Executive Secretary of African Ministers’ Council on Water highlighted the need for integrating science and policy to create a coherent message on WASH to input into the post-2015 development agenda process. He also called for the need for political leaders to prioritize access to water and wondered how long the world shall watch people die from lack of access to water.

Bai Mass Taal, the Executive Secretary of African Ministers’ Council on Water
Bai Mass Taal, the Executive Secretary of African Ministers’ Council on Water

Speaking during the youth forum, Andras Szollosi-Nagy, the Rector UNESCO-IHE noted that coordination or how to put together the stakeholders in WASH sector is what appears to be the challenge of the day that can give an opportunity for Water Youth Network to act on. He also advised the youths to grasp the communication channel to get their messages across.

Andras Szollosi-Nagy, the Rector UNESCO-IHE
Andras Szollosi-Nagy, the Rector UNESCO-IHE

The youths received various statements of encouragement from experts such as : “finding your passion, finding your voice”, “you are setting unambitious goals; there are a lot of voices out there. Connect, and make them so loud together that we can make a change”, and “youth seem to be able to communicate across boundaries. We are hopeful for the things you can achieve.”

Rozemarijn ter Horst, Founder, Water Youth Movement
Rozemarijn ter Horst, Founder, Water Youth Movement

In the civil society, discussants including Ella Antonio Ella Antonio, the President of the Earth Council Asia-Pacific and Fredrick Mugira, Coordinator of Water Journalists Africa Network called for better strategies to have the Budapest Water Summit outcome document interpreted and communicated to the common people on grassroots effectively for better understanding and action.

Fredrick Mugira, Coordinator of Water Journalists Africa Network speaks in the Civil Society Forum. On his left is Ella Antonio Ella Antonio, President of the Earth Council Asia-Pacific
Fredrick Mugira, Coordinator of Water Journalists Africa Network speaks in the Civil Society Forum. On his left is Ella Antonio Ella Antonio, President of the Earth Council Asia-Pacific

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