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    François Lacroix
    Deputy general director of Onema


Was the 6th World water forum a success?

It is too early to say whether the sixth World water form (WWF6) held last March in Marseille was a success. The quality of the organisation, the smooth succession of events and the many solid commitments undertaken by the international community were all, in themselves, successes. However, true success in the political field will occur in the months to come if water issues have made progress on the international scene. Some progress has already been achieved during the U.N. Rio+20 conference on sustainable development where a significant part of the recommendations made at WWF6 were included in the political declaration signed by the heads of state.

Of course, the general lack of ambition and of concrete commitments in the declaration is disappointing, but the importance of water issues is on the rise. A chapter specifically addressing water and sanitation is mentioned in seven other chapters of the declaration. Even more important, the role of water in the three dimensions (social, economic and environmental) of sustainable development is clearly stated. That is a major change. Water is no longer limited to purely environmental issues, it is a necessary factor in many human activities and is a prerequisite for development.

Two important topics for Onema have made progress. For the first time, the need to reduce pollution and improve wastewater management was emphasised. In addition, the key role played by ecosystems in maintaining the quantity and quality of water and the necessity of protecting and managing them sustainably was recognised. On the downside is the elimination in the final text, due to a lack of agreement, of any mention of cross-border cooperation and management of river basins as a whole.

The goal now is to turn water into a central feature of the future objectives for sustainable development. It must be an essential component in the agenda of upcoming major international meetings, notably in setting goals for sustainable development, one of the main novelties of the Rio+20 conference. The next important meeting for water will be the U.N. general assembly in July. Together, we will make sure that the progress made at WWF6 continues on track.


François Lacroix,
Deputy general director of Onema


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