It’s that time of year again: the 13th World Water Week is being held in Stockholm from 1 to 6 September. Hosted and organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) since 1991, over the years World Water Week has become the “annual focal point for the globe’s water issues,” bringing together over 200 collaborating organisations to explore water-related topics. This year, as the UN General Assembly has declared 2013 the “International Year of Water Cooperation,” the theme “Water Cooperation – Building Partnerships” has been chosen for the event.
The richness and complexity of cooperation
As we explained a few months ago in an article about World Water Day (which has taken place annually since 1993 and was dedicated to the same topic this year), cooperation is a key challenge in terms of both the preservation of the resource and ensuring better access to it. As the World Water Day website states, “Good management of water is especially challenging due to some of its unique characteristics: it is unevenly distributed in time and space, the hydrological cycle is highly complex and perturbations have multiple effects. Rapid urbanisation, pollution and climate change threaten the resource while demands for water are increasing in order to satisfy the needs of a growing world population […].
Water is a shared resource and its management needs to take into account a wide variety of conflicting interests. This provides opportunities for cooperation among users ».
This week of conferences and workshops will thus try to answer a series of questions: why do we need to cooperate, on what, to what end, at what level, with whom and, not least, how? The issue of cooperation is rich, complex and fascinating, because it concerns a variety of people and organisations, at a variety of levels: between actors in different sectors, between stakeholder groups, between different states and jurisdictions, between scientists and users, between regional authorities, local economic actors and consumers, etc. (To learn what Danone does to foster cooperation relating to water, you can read our article here.)
During the week, on 5 September, as every year, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden will award the Stockholm Water Prize to a “visionary mind”: the prize honours “individuals, institutions or organisations whose work contributes broadly to the conservation and protection of water resources and to improved well-being of the planet’s inhabitants and ecosystems,” say its organisers. This year, the laureate is Dr Peter Morgan from Zimbabwe, who has invented low-cost practical solutions to provide access to safe and clean water.
Cooperation on major issues can often be driven and inspired by a few individuals who have created their own answers to specific problems – with his efforts to bring clean water to as many people as possible,
Dr Morgan is an ideal example.
(Photo © Karen Kasmauski for CRS. See more at: http://crs-blog.org )