The celebration of World Water Day coincides this year with D-365 of the 9th World Water Forum, which Senegal will organize with the World Water Council, from 22 to 27 March 2021 in Dakar. Under the main theme of "Water Security for Peace and Development" and four priorities (security of water and sanitation, water for rural development, water cooperation, tools and means) the event will be organized for the first time in sub-Saharan Africa.
World Water Day will be celebrated on Sunday 22 March 2020 under the theme ''Water and Climate Change''. Water is an important piece in the mitigation puzzle, but the most important key to adaptation to climate change. Changes in water availability will have an impact on food security and have already proven to trigger refugee dynamics and political instability. With a changing climate, the characteristics of extreme hydrological events will change. More severe floods and droughts are expected in the future.
The issue of water and climate change is well taken into account in the Forum's working groups. Thus, the priorities include items related to these issues, mainly in the Priority "Water and Sanitation Security" in line with the SDGs (in brackets), namely :
- Implement the Right to Water and Sanitation and provide access to safe water and sanitation in emergency situations (6.1, 6.2,1.4, 11.1)
- Improve water quality and waste management (6.3 11.6 12.4, 12.5)
- Reduce water-related illness and deaths (3.9, 3.3, 3.2)
- Protect and restore ecosystems and forests, including coastal and marine impacts, and combat desertification (6.6 14.1, 14.2, 15.1, 15.3)
- Halt the loss of aquatic biodiversity and invasive species in water ecosystems (15.5 15.8, 15.9)
- Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate change and natural disasters (13.1, 11.5, 1.5, 11.B, 13.3)
The Dakar Forum should demonstrate that it is not an event reserved for water, sanitation and environment actors and experts. Both in the preparatory phase and during the Forum, the involvement of other segments of society (young people, women, civil society, parliamentarians, local elected officials, etc.) from Senegal, Africa and elsewhere should be encouraged. With this inclusive and participatory approach, the aim will be to motivate them to participate in the preparatory phase and register to attend the Forum. The event will thus be able to have a popular and participatory character.
The three main components of the Forum
The 9th World Water Forum will have to strengthen actions in Africa and in the world, for universal access to water and sanitation in view of the weak and fragile progress, the growing pressures linked to the climate challenge, galloping demography, uncontrolled urbanisation, pollution, etc. In a word, it is a matter of fighting poverty and restoring hope to those hundreds of millions of people deprived of the essentials, particularly in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
In order to achieve its objectives, the 9th World Water Forum will be based mainly on three components:
- Firstly, a multi-stakeholder exchange platform bringing together all the stakeholders, including government representatives, parliamentarians, local authorities, the scientific world, the private sector, civil society, young people, women, etc. This platform will be based on an integrated and decompartmentalized preparation that favours multi-stakeholder exchanges around the following four priorities: (1) water security and sanitation, (2) cooperation, (3) water for rural development and (4) the "Tools and Means" box including the crucial issues of financing, governance, knowledge management and innovation.
The process will be led by specialised working groups structured around the 4 priorities. Each working group will be led by Senegal and the World Water Council, and supported by strategic partners (governments, intergovernmental, bilateral and multilateral organizations, financial institutions and non-governmental organizations). The strategic partners should play a leading role from the preparatory process to the organization of the Forum.
The Forum's governance mechanisms are structured around an International Steering Committee of the Forum composed of Senegal and the Council and the Executive Secretariat set up by Senegal, which will ensure the implementation of the crucial actions of the roadmap, the preparatory process and the organization of the Forum.
- Secondly, the Summit of Heads of State: The Dakar Forum will be marked by a Summit of Heads of State and major international institutions to advance the international political agenda on the global framework for accelerating SDGs , in response to the UN Secretary General's call for a Decade of Action to achieve the 2030 agenda, and on the mid-term in-depth review of activities for the International Decade for Action on "Water and Sustainable Development (2018-2028)". It is, indeed, urgent to act at the political level in order to give all the chances to achieve this bet, because, to date, the trends are not very favourable on a global scale, for the achievement of the SDOs.
Thus, under Senegal's leadership, the Summit of Heads of State should translate into commitment at the highest level, the launch of a message and historic political initiatives, in order to catalyse action, in particular, for the rapid achievement of universal access to water and sanitation. The ambition is thus to make "Dakar 2021" a forum of responses, a political forum for demonstrating results, with the participation and commitment of Heads of State and Government.
- Thirdly, the "Dakar 2021 Initiative": in order to give a specific, innovative and catalysing touch to the commitment of the world water community, Senegal and the World Water Council have launched the "DAKAR 2021 INITIATIVE" which aims at developing concrete projects whose results will be presented during the 9th World Water Forum.