ECLAC organized the 2023 Regional Water Dialogues between February 1 and 3 at the headquarters of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago, Chile. This event is part of the regional preparatory process for the UN Water Conference 2023. It was attended by 200 face-to-face participants representing more than 20 countries in the region, and with the participation of more than 80 panelists of the highest level. Among them participated the Vice President of El Salvador, Mr. Félix Ulloa, six ministers and seven vice ministers from different countries in the region. In addition, there was strong representation from civil society, through indigenous groups, primary and secondary students, women’s and youth associations, rural communities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The private sector, international development banks and academia were also present.
As the event had a hybrid modality, it also had more than 3,700 registered participants online, representing more than 70 countries. Of these, 52% identified themselves as male and 46% as female. While the participants represented a wide geographic variety, 65% of all are from South America.
According to the results obtained from the closing survey, carried out by ECLAC after the event, the general assessment was extremely positive and the average general satisfaction was 4.58 (on a scale of 1 to 5). The most common comments were appreciation for the high quality of the panelists and the topics covered, and the diversity and inclusion of various actors and especially NGOs, women, youth, and native communities. Likewise, the broad approach to addressing SDG 6 was recognized and special mention was made of the fact that the event emphasized the different realities of the region. Among the requests for improvement, is to give even more spaces for dialogue, despite the fact that other participants appreciated these spaces, indicating that the event allowed a more inclusive participation.
Messages High Level Session 1, Wednesday, February 1
Throughout the first day, the messages to highlight were:
- The relevance of water as a vector of development, in a context of great water and socioeconomic challenges in the region. Here, the urgency of universalizing the Human Right to Water and Sanitation is reiterated, advancing towards ECLAC’s proposal for an inclusive and sustainable water transition.
- With respect to water and its relationship with sustainable development, it was identified that despite the achievements and innovations in institutional strengthening and towards adequate water governance, the countries still face numerous challenges. Within them, strengthen the institutional system in water matters, as well as the hierarchical rank of the countries’ water authorities, eliminating institutional gaps and facilitating coordination. Likewise, it is necessary to establish collaboration systems between the various authorities, managers and citizens.
- Regarding issues of climate and resilience to climate change, early warning systems were reviewed, they are of vital importance, reducing the risk of the population to exposure and promoting recovery from the impacts of disasters. Similarly, investment in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is required as a solution to better manage these situations and build resilience, especially in the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Caribbean.
On this first day, the launch of the LAC Network and Observatory for Water Sustainability (ROSA) was also carried out, promoted by ECLAC and the five pilot countries of the project. This network and water observatory responds to the main needs for capacity building for the development of innovative water policies. For this reason, a Regional Water Sustainability Network will be formed for the exchange of good practices, information, data and evidence to promote compliance with SDG 6 in the region, and it will establish an Observatory for Water Sustainability, a digital repository with policy documents and information on activities relevant to the achievement of the same SDG. In addition, it includes the development of technical assistance to collect and use the SDG 6 indicators, according to priority areas and needs. All of the above will be built jointly, and will be enriched to the extent that the countries can contribute, get involved and benefit. For more information, click here.
Messages High Level Session 2, Thursday, February 2
Among the main messages that emerged throughout the 2023 Regional Water Dialogues, on their second high-level day, were:
- It is required of financial resources adequate, especially in countries with greater deficits in infrastructure and coverage. For this, it is essential to identify and mobilize the sources of financing and appropriate financial instruments such as loans, bonds or other blended financing instruments. At the same time, it is necessary to make the most of available and incoming financial opportunities, such as adaptation and mitigation finance and nature-based solutions. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) also stand out as mechanisms for accessing finance, since the experience of the private sector can be harnessed.
- Likewise, the regional and territorial cooperation It is essential when talking about a resource that does not recognize borders. Strengthening regional and territorial water cooperation so that it is inclusive, intersectoral and action-oriented is a fundamental task. Show your benefits at multiple scales and across sectors. Collaboration is not just a useful option, but a necessary condition for achieving the SDG targets.
- The extraction, uses, treatment and return of water to the ecosystemsare inevitably related to the renewability and energy securitythe food safety and the environmental sustainability. It was shown that it is crucial to capitalize on the synergies and interrelationships involved in decision-making, planning and water management, which in turn enhances the advancement of other sustainable development goals contained in the 2030 Agenda.
Messages Technical conference: Brainstorming solutions to value water and accelerate the achievement of SDG 6 in Latin America and the Caribbean, Friday, February 3
This day focused on the presentation of concrete solutions that are being carried out in the region to shorten the gaps in the 2030 Agenda in terms of water.
- The actions and solutions presented are aligned with the United Nations water valuation principles. The above, for example, in terms of considering the multiple values of water, the different stakeholders in it and all the interconnections that emerge between human needs, economic well-being, spirituality and the viability of freshwater ecosystems that must be considered in decision making. The relevance of carrying out conciliation processes in an equitable, transparent and inclusive manner is also highlighted; to value and protect all water sources, including watersheds, rivers, aquifers, and associated ecosystems for current and future generations; to promote education and public awareness of the essential role of water and its intrinsic value; and to increase investment in institutions, infrastructure, information and innovation.
- Here, concrete solutions were presented that are being carried out in the region to shorten the gaps in the 2030 Agenda in terms of water. Among the solutions presented are governance initiatives, such as local cooperation projects on drinking water and sanitation in a municipality in Chiapas, Mexico; one on floodwater management and water pollution in Costa Rica; with environmental aspects with the initiative Adopt a River of Trinidad and Tobago; and incorporating agricultural matters with a peasant community in Huancavelica, Peru. Likewise, innovative solutions focused on capacity development were presented, such as initiatives for education and empowerment of women in Brazil; considering ancestral practices and indigenous communities in Argentina and Mexico; and a project with schools and their students in Chile. Finally, in matters of financial innovation, the Andean Platform for Water Funds was presented; an innovative financing project for waterworks in El Salvador, as well as a small transnational hydroelectric plant in El Salvador and Honduras, managed locally.
- With this, the technical day of raining solutions was linked to the acceleration framework for the achievement of SDG 6, highlighting that for the progress of the countries it is necessary to work in these five spheres: financing; data and information; capacity development; innovation; and governance.
Photos of the Regional Water Dialogues 2023
To access the official photo gallery of the event, follow the following link.