Global Gathering Seeks Water Security for All

Posted by Daniel Wilusz
March 19, 2009
Child Quenches Thirst With Water Droplets

About the Author: Daniel Wilusz serves in the Bureau of Oceans, Environment and Science Office of International Health and Biodefense.

My colleagues and I on State’s “water team” have been preparing for months. Finally, on Monday, my colleagues and I joined over 20,000 water professionals, 100 government ministers, and 10 heads of state from around the world in Istanbul, Turkey, for the Fifth World Water Forum, the largest water meeting in the world.

The World Water Council hosts the forum every three years, and it’s an infamously overwhelming and chaotic event. The complete program of events was a mystery until late last week, and the paint on the main conference center is still drying.

Yet it continues to be the place to see-and-be-seen in the global water sector, and delegates from over ten U.S. agencies have come to participate in hundreds of events. And I’m happy to report at the halfway point: it’s been surprisingly smooth sailing.

The amazing thing about the forum is that it offers something for everyone. From VIP lunches to highly technical presentations. From exhibition booths selling detergent to wandering consultants selling "water solutions." From a roundtable on water financing for ministers to round tables with water-themed crafts for children.

The U.S. delegation has brought something for everyone, too. From a course on earth mapping from NASA scientists to a training on dams from the Army Corps of Engineers. From a popular booth on the U.S. Geological Service to fact sheets on USAID’s water programs. From a launch event for a new water initiative to a presentation on risk management for drinking water.

The event has not been without controversy. The opening ceremony was briefly interrupted by protesters who unfurled a banner on the balcony saying “no more big dams," and some 300 demonstrators gathered outside the forum.

But by-in-large the forum seems to be meeting its goal to find solutions to achieve water security. Which is good news, especially for the more than two and a half billion people around the world still lacking access to drinking water or sanitation.

So let’s hope for three more successful days for the Fifth World Water Forum, and to quickly achieving a water secure world – one in which we won’t need more World Water Forums.

Editor's Note: Read Daniel's next entry from the World Water Forum.



Concept C.
March 19, 2009

C.C. writes:

Water is a common chemical substance that is essential for the survival of all known forms of life. The existence of liquid water, and to a lesser extent its gaseous and solid forms, on Earth is vital to the existence of life on earth as we know it. Since all these above things are on the path to get lost, so we the people must do something to SAVE WATER.

California, USA
March 19, 2009

Wendy in California writes:

Dear Mr. Wilusz,

Water & honey bees are the actual most crucial topics on EarthVuravuraJeegoo. Thanks for your post from World Water. I hope you'll post again after the second half. I don't think you could be too detailed for those of us out here who see clean water as the most precious liquid on the planet, ultimately.

Water is surely the common wealth of peoples. I worry about the all-but-secret privatization of waters. If any resource should be commonly held not for profit but for the good of people, it is water.

Oklahoma, USA
March 19, 2009

Sundra in Oklahoma writes:

I'm delighted that the U.S. is actively participating in this event, with a great team. I would like to hear more about this administration's policy position regarding whether water is viewed as a human right/common good or if privatization of water is seen as a legitimate tool or goal. Many, many of us in the U.S. and especially in developing countries that experience the blunt arm of global institutions see the privatization of this element that is essential to all life as disasterous -- and we have extensive evidence that privatization curtails access and produces lower water quality at higher prices.

Maryland, USA
March 19, 2009

Patrick in Maryland writes:

Hello, Water People and Netizens :)

I love water, and think more people should drink more of it. I think this water Gathering is a Great thing. We all need water and coming up with new ways of making water safe is a good Idea. I like that all the countries are coming together to work on the water problems of the world. I hope your Water Meetings go well.

Thanks for Posting, Daniel Wilusz

Cya :)

Ron J.
Arizona, USA
March 19, 2009

Ron J. in Arizona writes:

What did the Water Forum tangibly accomplish? It's nice that it had a positive touchie-feelie experience for the attendees, but what was the result for the rest of the world?

California, USA
March 19, 2009

Patricia in California writes:

Thank you Daniel for your post and for bringing to our attention the 5th World Water Forum. Secure water for all is a critical problem and everyone should be aware of the important work the Forum does. Water, like adequate food, are two of the most pressing problems for the 21st Century.

March 20, 2009

Peter in Canada writes:

In my own area, there is a mishmash of interprovincial, interstate and intermunicipality agreements regarding the commercial business use of water, our shared natural resource. However, we must always remember that our commitment as North Americans requires direct access to water resources by mlitary units such as the United States Marine Corps and the Camp Lejeune Water registry in orer to prevent clear and present risks to the longterm security of water on this continent. We should not allow the children of tomorrow to suffer drought and famine at the behest of banks and private commercial water business interests.

United Kingdom
March 21, 2009

Nathen in the United Kingdom writes:

World water forum is a helpful orgnisation for all of us.One biggest advantage of this forum is that it offres something for everyone.It also aware people towards water saving.

Massachusetts, USA
March 21, 2009

Milton in Massachusetts writes:

In a time when corporate water resource "privatization" is a threat to the natural, God-given water rights of indigeneous people worldwide, I can't tell who was at that forum and who's needs are being represented. I'm glad the correspondent had a good time, and that people got along, for the most part, but I'd like to know who's side my government is on, with the new administration. Mostly, I'm concerned about the utter invisibility of the most important water issue people face: corporatization of water resources. When I see terms like "water security" and nothing about my concerns, I wonder if the "fix is in" on this one. hmmmm...

California, USA
March 22, 2009

Michael in California writes:

Without privatization, how do you propose water access projects get funded? History shows that 'gifts' of infrastructure projects quickly fall into disrepair. Privatization for expansion of water access is the best means to reliably finance implementation, operation, and maintenance of water systems, while providing enough incentive for the firms with the capability to take on the project. I hope much of the discussion was how to implement progressive tariffs (fixed-fee up to x-gallons, progressively more beyond that for excessive use (car washing, landscaping, etc) so viable projects to serve existing populations move forward, and ensure strong regulation/governance to manage impacts, population growth, etc.

T M.
Michigan, USA
March 24, 2009

T.M. in Michigan writes:

Yes, please do try to explain what was the result of the millions of dollars spent on this water sector schmooze fest? I understand the U.S. Government sent over 30 people. Was it a good use of money in hard economic times?

BeWaterWise R.
California, USA
August 13, 2009

B.W. in California writes:

Water conservation has become a serious matter to be considered due to its shortage in availability while its needs are increasing. All of us need to contribute to achieve a water secure world. Fixing a leaky sprinkler, watering our lawns only two days a week, etc are some things to consider. Visit for some more tips on water conservation.


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