What did Both ENDS do at the World Water Forum?
Halls filled with booths, stands, professionally set up corners, wifi-spots. Big rooms where lectures, interactive sessions and workshops are held. People from all corners of the world and from different kinds of sectors (companies, government, and social organisations) are gathering here for five days. They have one thing in common: they are talking about water. The sixth World Water Forum in Marseille is about 'solutions'. For water issues, that is. Almost a billion people worldwide have to cope without clean drinking water.
Many of the numerous NGO's that are represented have united in the 'Butterfly effect', a temporary cooperation, which gives a strong message to policy makers and companies. Through communal sessions at the forum, a common meeting spot and jointly press conferences, the message is being reinforced.
But the organisations also organise individual activities. Tobias Schmitz, expert of water and sanitation at Both ENDS, is giving a couple of presentations on the so-called 1% mechanism, which enables water companies to use 1% of their profits for development projects on water and sanitation.
The Drynet network, in which Both ENDS is also represented, has a very important role at the WWF. Situated between the big halls of the forum terrain is a sunny square where Drynet has put up a couple of tents. Meetings are being held here and information is exchanged. When entering the tents, you feel like you're in a dessert landscape: a welcome change after the square halls on the forum terrain.
NGO's and donors
Both ENDS has also started the 'Citizens' Forum on Participatory Integrated Water Resource Management'. Here, examples of successful water management in river basins, where all stakeholders (and especially the local community) are involved and consulted are presented. After these presentations, present deputies of governments are asked the following questions: would you invest in these projects? Why or why not?
Both ENDS has invited partner organisations from Latin-America, Africa and Asia to support and be a part of the so-called 'Declaration of Commitment'. The undersigned declare to do everything to keep applying this 'Participatory Integrated Water Resource Management' in the 15 river basins they work and to make it even more successful. Other organisations are also encouraged to commit to this promise.
Despite the early hours at which the Citizens Forum is held, it's continually visited: some observers have to stand because all the seats are taken. The examples of successful participatory water management from places like Senegal, India and Mexico, where cooperation with the (local) government is very intense, appeals very strongly to the audience. "We have similar problems, but it's good to see how others deal with it, that gives us insight in our next steps", says Jane Lingbawa of CPA from the Philippines. "They key remains information: explaining plans and problems of the area and making sure that the input of the locals is being integrated into policy making. There are a lot of different ways of doing that, and it's good to learn from each other".
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