The Nile Basin Discourse (NBD) is a civil society network with a membership of more than 750 organizations from 11 countries within the Nile Basin Region. It provides knowledge and builds capacity to strengthen the voice of civil society organizations within the Nile Basin Region. The NBD has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nile Basin Initiative, a coalition of ten countries’ governments along the Nile, and participates in high level meetings. The NBD has developed a unique voice in the Initiative’s goal to advance benefit sharing. “Benefit sharing,” as described by the NBD, aims to divert attention from contentious issues such as water allocation, thereby preventing futile competition in the region.
The World Water Forum 6 took place from March 12-17th, 2012 in Marseille, France. The Forum aimed at bring people together, allowing for conversation, presenting solutions, spreading awareness, solving challenges, and making commitments. The Forum, according to the event’s website,
“…mobilises creativity, innovation, competence and know-how in favour of water. It gathers all stakeholders around today’s local, regional and global issues that cannot be undertaken without all stakeholders into a common framework of goals and concrete targets to reach. The goal of the 6th World Water Forum is to tackle the challenges our world is facing and to bring water high on all political agendas.”
Take a Tour of the WWF6
Take a tour of the World Water Forum 6 by watching the video below. The opening ceremony featured a song by The Marseille Rêve Choir, which felt optimistic and inspirational. This optimism continued throughout the Forum as individuals from diverse backgrounds, numerous countries, and varying opinions discussed important issues related to water. The twelve thematic targets organized discussions to focus on certain key issues in water governance, energy, food, access and others. It wasn’t only talk, however – the Village of Solutions presented concrete and unique solutions addressing a variety of problems.
How Successful was the Forum?
Some may argue that the Forum lacked conflict, which is explored in this post. I think determining the success of the Forum depends on what outcome is considered success. One thing that the Forum successfully accomplished was to initiate dialogue between individuals, groups, and countries that may not have otherwise interacted with one another. The ability to communicate between so many languages with the use of live translation was fascinating. Second, the Forum increased awareness of water challenges, both in Marseille (which had signs advertising the event at many bus stops) and around the world (through articles published in newspapers and blogs). I now intend to share the knowledge I learned from others at the Forum with my own friends and family at home. Finally, many connections were forged between water professionals. The Forum was an open space for meeting like-minded individuals who are passionate about water. Personally, I met youth from around the world and spoke with experienced professionals working in the field of water who I will stay in touch with. These connections lead to research and solutions: for example, a classmate found the inspiration for a master’s capstone project through a Forum panel discussion and interview. However, I wonder how many concrete changes will result from the Forum and if the solutions and commitments made were enough. On Friday, the second to last day of the Forum, I attended a high level panel that I expected might end in a series of clear steps to take in the coming months or years. But much of the time was spent sharing perspectives from different individuals on the panel. It is valuable to share these experiences, but I did not expect this to still be the focus so far into the Forum. Because of a lack of concrete next steps in some of the panel discussions I attended, I left finding it difficult to explain to others specific steps that will be taken as a result of the Forum.
Did you attend the World Water Forum? As the largest global meeting for water, do you think it addressed appropriate issues? What impact has or will the WWF6 have on water issues globally?