UNDP has led a group of 25 institutions including local, regional and national authorities, international and multilateral organizations, water operators, NGOs, private organizations and prominent public figures in the assessment, design and constitution of a new international tool to promote decentralized cooperation in the water and sanitation field.
The new instrument, called the Global Water Solidarity Platform, was launched yesterday at the World Water Forum in Marseille, France, where 20,000 participants from the private, public and non-profit sectors have gathered this week to address the water crisis. At the UNDP event, numerous organizations joined local authorities from across Africa and Europe at a special ceremony to sign the Decentralized Solidarity Mechanisms International Charter.
“This UNDP initiative is important because 11% of the planet’s population still lacks access to potable water, and 2.5 billion people do not have adequate sanitation services, said UNDP Deputy Director for External Relations and Advocacy Romesh Muttukumaru, at the launch event in Marseille. “We believe this platform, and the International Charter, are important because local actors acting in solidarity can be a very effective tool to reducing the conditions that create poverty.”
The Global Water Solidarity Platform, which is supported by the governments of France and Switzerland, connects local authorities and organizations to take action to solve water and sanitation challenges, through which, for example, municipal water authorities in more developed countries can take direct action to support the improvement of water and sanitation services in developing contexts by contributing 1% of their revenue or budgets.
Muttukumaru said local authorities and water utility companies play a key role in responding to the challenges. “Together with an active coalition of stakeholders and concrete cooperation mechanisms, local leaders from across the globe are working in solidarity so everyone can access safe water and sanitation services,” he said.
Sub-national institutions hold an essential position in the provision of water and sanitation services, said Jean-Philippe Bayon, senior water expert at UNDP. “These institutions have found efficient solutions and accumulated best practices to overcome technical, political or financial obstacles to ensure availability, quality, acceptability, accessibility, affordability, inclusiveness and sustainability of their water and sanitation services,” he said, adding that the nature of these obstacles is generally shared by many sub-national institutions in many countries and regions in both the north and the south and “the successful experiences developed by one of them can serve to inspire others in their path to universal access.”
Idrissa Doucoure, secretary general of EAA, said the linkages between developed and developing cities has a multiplier effect that reaches far beyond the immediate impact. “Through South-South cooperation further catalyzed by access to financing mechanisms and capacity,” he said, “helps ensure that the benefits are replicated again and again as the knowledge and technology migrates from community to community.”
Manfred Kauffman, chairman of solidarit’eau Suisse, a founding member of the Global Water Solidarity, said his organization has raised more than 2 million euro thus far by connecting communities in Switzerland with communities in the developing world to improve their water and sanitation. Through this network, for example, the city of Lausanne is helping to ensure clean water to the people of Nouakchott, Mauritania.
Issoufou Issaka, minister of hydraulics and environment in Niger said the new platform gives him hope that new partnerships can be established to support his ministry to overcome the challenges of ensuring widespread access to clean water. “The difficulties may seem insurmountable,” he said. “But through the types of decentralized partnerships promoted by the Global Water Solidarity Platform we will be able to confront them together, in Niger, across Africa and around the world.”