By Hamed Diane SEMEGA, High Commissioner of OMVS
The World Water Forum is for the Senegal River Development Organization (OMVS) a process of global collaboration on water-related issues, which offers the only international space for debate and expert contributions to the politicians and decision-makers concerned. This is why this 9th edition, which will be organised by Senegal, has a particular aspect because, through Senegal, it is Africa that will be at the forefront of the scene and will thus be able to put certain issues that have been relegated to the background on the world agenda. Indeed, access to drinking water and sanitation, rural development and cooperation will be priorities of this forum. It will also be a forum for innovation for Africans who are keen to find solutions to the challenges of climate change that directly affect us. I would also like to stress the importance of the Forum's theme of "water security for peace and development" to highlight the challenges of water for peace and conflict prevention in Africa.
The choice made for Senegal, OMVS Member State and founder, undoubtedly owes a lot to the role played by OMVS as a basin organization renowned for its achievements and legal foundations, and cited as a successful example of transboundary cooperation throughout the world. OMVS is also an active member of the International Network of Basin Organizations (INBO) and a founding member of the African Network of Basin Organizations (ANBO). All these qualities make it an essential and natural actor of this global event. The Executive Secretariat of the Forum, in agreement with the World Water Council, decided to take OMVS as a strategic partner on the priority topic "Cooperation" and to entrust it with its leadership.
OMVS is thus positioning itself as a first-rate strategic partner and, in September 2017, set up an organizing committee within the Office of the High Commissioner whose main role is to actively support the National Preparatory Committee (which has since become the Executive Secretariat) of the 9th World Water Forum set up by Senegal. Since its establishment, this Committee has been working with the Executive Secretariat by supporting and accompanying it in the different events of the World Water Agenda. In this respect, the Committee, whose President is a member of the ISC (International Steering Committee) of the Forum, has led and participated in several high-level panels in which messages promoting the Forum were conveyed.
Furthermore, as leader of the Cooperation priority, OMVS is an active member of its pilot group and thus ensures (together with other partners such as OMVG) the supervision of the action groups which are in charge of preparing the answers to be brought to the different issues to be discussed during the Forum. OMVS is at the heart of the preparation of this global event. We intend to lay the groundwork that will enable the Organization to confirm, by 2021, its leadership in the concerted and mutually supportive management of transboundary water resources in a context of climate change. Alongside Senegal, OMVS plans to make a multifaceted contribution, but above all aims to share its rich experience with the international community. It is true that we also intend to take advantage of this forum for exchange to enhance our visibility and, why not, to forge strategic partnerships with technical and financial partners in the search for funding for our future structuring projects.
The mobilization of OMVS partners will take place at three levels. Firstly, we will use our relays (local elected officials, water users' associations, local committees, etc.) to raise awareness among local water stakeholders. The second level of mobilization will be the organization of national workshops at the level of the 4 OMVS member States. The objective of these workshops will be to inform and sensitize the national services of the water sectors on the stakes and the importance of the Forum.
Finally, we intend to host, organize or participate in regional or international events. We will use them to mobilize our networks such as INBO and ANBO for the promotion and success of the Forum. In addition, we are working with the other African basin organizations on the design of a common stand, which we hope will be commensurate with the event (www.omvs.sn).