About the Author: Daniel Wilusz serves in the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science Office of International Health and Biodefense.
The biggest-ever Fifth World Water Forum concluded on Sunday, and we the participants are scattering back to our four corners of the earth. The dust in Istanbul is still settling, but the message from Turkey at the closing ceremony was clear. "The forum was a success," declared a high-level government official.
In many respects, he’s right. Hosting an international conference for over twenty-five thousand people with a hundred plus heads of state and ministers is a challenge anywhere, but the “City on Seven Hills” made it look easy as Turkish pie. Most impressive to me was the friendly staff at every twist and turn of the forum – and even at the airport – always ready and eager to help.
The U.S. delegation talked to hundreds of people at our booths, convened a discussion about water with U.S.-based non-profits, offered new ideas at a ministerial conference on water and climate change, chaired a similar conference on water and finance, and on and on. In short we found every opportunity to share our experience and strengthen our partnerships.
Still I can’t help but reflect on a question asked in response to my previous DipNote entry about the World Water Forum, “…What has it all accomplished?" What will all of this dialogue and planning achieve for the billions of people without clean water or sanitation?
As the Acting Administrator of USAID Alonzo Fulgham suggested in his remarks at the closing ceremony, the impetus is now on us, the participants, to make sure it accomplishes a lot. To translate all of our talk to more action on the ground. The real success of the forum depends on it.