World Water Forum

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The World Water Forum is an event focusing on perceived issues surrounding water. It is hosted by the World Water Council and takes place every three years.[1]


World Water Forum aims to:

  • Raise awareness with decision makers and the public at large on water issues and, subsequently, to generate action;
  • Contribute to improving access to water supply and sanitation and report on progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals;[2]
  • Provide opportunities to progressively develop shared visions on challenging water issues, to develop new partnerships and to pave the way for cooperation and action among a wide diversity of organisations and individuals;
  • Encourage greater media attention for water issues and solutions


Location Year Approximate Total Number of Attendees

(including Fair and Expo)

Brasilia, Brazil 2018 TBD "Sharing water"
Daegu / Gyeongbuk, South Korea 2015 ~ 30,000 entries "Water for our Future"
Marseille, France 2012 approx. 35,000 entries "Solutions for Water"
Istanbul, Turkey 2009 over 30,000 "Bridging Divides for Water"
Mexico City, Mexico 2006 27,500 "Local Actions for a Global Challenge"
Kyoto, Japan 2003 250,000 "A Forum with a Difference"
The Hague, Netherlands 2000 39,100 "From Vision to Action"
Marrakech, Morocco 1997 500 "Vision for Water, Life and the Environment"


The forum is made up of four primary components:

  1. The thematic programme which provides the substantive discussions in the form of sessions and panels.
  2. The political process which provides the opportunity for discussion with elected officials (local authorities, parliamentarians, ministers) and resulting in various statements and commitments.
  3. The regional process which provides perspectives on water from all regions of the world.
  4. The fair and expo which provides a space for all stakeholders to showcase their contributions.

Each of these components benefits from extensive preparatory processes that commence two years prior to the World Water Forum.

Past editions have included other features, such as side events, a learning centre, a children’s forum, a youth forum, a children’s education village, water and film encounters and cultural entertainment.


1st World Water Forum[edit]

The first World Water Forum, following the creation of the World Water Council, took place in Marrakech, Morocco, on 21–23 March 1997.[3] It laid the basis for the development of a long-term “Vision for Water, Life and the Environment in the 21st Century.” Sessions included:

  • Perspectives on world water
  • On the road toward a long-term vision for world water
  • The challenges of the 21st century
  • Celebration of World Water Day

2nd World Water Forum[edit]

The 2nd World Water Forum in The Hague in 2000, generated much debate on the World Water Vision[4] and the associated Framework for Action,[5] dealing with the state and ownership of water resources, their development potential, management and financing models, and their impact on poverty, social, cultural and economic development and the environment. The ministerial declaration[6][7] identified the following key challenges: meeting basic water needs, securing food supply, protecting ecosystems, sharing water resources, managing risks, valuing water and governing water wisely.

  • 15,000 people were involved in the Vision related discussions
  • 5,700 participants attended the forum
  • 114 ministers and officials from 130 countries were present at the ministerial conference
  • 500 journalists reported on the event
  • 32,500 people visited the World Water Fair

3rd World Water Forum[edit]

The 3rd World Water Forum, held in Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka, Japan in March 2003, assembled a huge number and variety of stakeholders as compared to previous editions of the forum. In addition, the debate was furthered within the context of the new commitments of meeting the goals set forth at the United Nations in New York (2000), the in Bonn (2001) and the in Johannesburg (2002).[8][9][10]

The 3rd World Water Forum offered 351 sessions under 38 themes.[11] In addition, the "World Panel on Financing Water Infrastructure", chaired by Michel Camdessus, presented its conclusions[12] on what should be done to find adequate financing for water infrastructure and offered specific proposals on how this can be achieved, and by whom.

New concepts were introduced such as a Virtual Water Forum,[13] which consisted of about 166 interactive sessions available through Internet, and the Water Voices Project,[14] where 27,000 opinions of ordinary citizens were collected from 142 countries. The World Water Actions report[15] inventoried over 3,000 local water actions.

The 3rd World Water Forum also invited the participation of indigenous people, recognizing that indigenous land and water rights is crucial to the discussion of water interests worldwide. Indigenous people have often been excluded from discussions about clean drinking water, water sanitation, and rights to water sources, so this invitation legitimized the rights of indigenous people to help create water related policy. Their participation resulted in the signing of the Indigenous Peoples Kyoto Declaration, which centered on the rights of indigenous people to self determine usage of their own water resources.[16]

4th World Water Forum[edit]

During the 4th World Water Forum in 2006 in Mexico City, close to 20,000 people from throughout the world participated in 206 working sessions, where a total of 1600 local actions were presented.[17] Participants included official representatives and delegates from 140 countries including 120 mayors and 150 legislators, and 78 ministers. Nearly 1400 journalists were present.[18]

Noteworthy events included:

  • The presentation of the 2nd UN World Water Development Report
  • The establishment of the Asia-Pacific water forum[19]
  • The launch of the Water Integrity Network[20]
  • The publication of:
    • The Right to Water - From concept to implementation[21]
    • Task Force on Financing Water For All - Report 1. Enhancing Access To Finance For Local Governments - Financing Water For Agriculture[22]
    • Costing MDG Target 10 on Water Supply and Sanitation - Comparative Analysis, Obstacles and Recommendations[23]
    • Official Development Assistance for Water from 1990 to 2004 - Figures and trends[24]

5th World Water Forum[edit]

Over 30,000 participants from 182 countries took part in the 5th World Water Forum, from 16 to 22 March 2009 in Istanbul, Turkey. More than 400 organisations prepared together over 100 sessions organised according to 6 themes, 7 regional reports and 5 high-level panels.[25]

For the first time in the World Water Forum’s history, a heads of state[26] meeting was organized. In addition, the ministerial statement[27] and water guide[28] were developed through a series of four preparatory meetings of government officials, in which thematic and regional coordinators and representatives of major groups participated. Further exchanges with stakeholder representatives were organized through ministerial roundtable discussions during the 5th World Water Forum.

Local and regional authorities in attendance produced the Istanbul Water Consensus[29][30] (IWC), a new compact for local and regional authorities willing to commit to adapting their water infrastructure and services to the emerging challenges they are facing. It was also the first time that over 250 parliamentarians from around the world jointly started to address water issues.

In addition to the session programme, a number of high-level panels were organized on issues such as water-related disasters,[31] sanitation, the water-food-energy nexus and financing. Following the 5th World Water Forum, the panel on water and climate change continued its efforts to bring forth its recommendations to the UNFCCC process and CoP-15 discussions held in Copenhagen in December 2009.

For more detailed information on the 5th World Water Forum, a collection of the official outcomes and statements can be found in the Global Water Framework.[32] This compilation presents all the major official documents of the forum: heads of state appeal; ministerial statement; Istanbul Water Guide; ministerial roundtable reports; parliamentarians for water; Istanbul water consensus; compilation of thematic commitments; regional outputs; children’s declaration; and youth declaration.

Another publication, Water at a Crossroads[33] contains a cross-cutting analysis of the key decisions and major themes addressed at the Forum, including climate change; disasters; water, food and energy; MDGs; finance; public/private management; governance; transboundary issues; the right to water; and data availability.

Civil society protest was considerable, notably about the negative effects of dams. Blockades and marches were organised, and Turkey deported peaceful protesters.[34]

6th World Water Forum[edit]

Marseille, France, 2012. There, were, again, extensive protests against the greenwashing of water commodification by corporations and the effects of dams.[35]


Two water-related Prizes have been awarded during successive World Water Forums: The King Hassan II Great World Water Prize and the Kyoto World Water Grand Prize. Two additional prizes were awarded during the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul: the Turkish Republic Prime Minister's Water Prize and the Compromiso México Water Prize.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ The United Nations Millennium Declaration (18 September 2000) outlined 8 goals (MDGs) to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. They range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015. Goal 7, Target 2 specifically refers to reducing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water, but water provision is also key to making progress on many of the other Goals
  3. ^ The following publication contains the papers that were presented during the 1st World Water Forum: Water, The World's Common Heritage: Proceedings of the First World Water Forum. (1997). (Eds. M. Ait-Kadi, A. Shady, A. Szollosi-Nagy). Oxford: Elsevier Science Ltd. 212 p
  4. ^ The World Water Vision Commission Report was produced by the independent World Commission on Water for the 21st Century and presented during the 2nd World Water Forum. On-line version available here. This report is the culmination of an unprecedented participatory process that provided an overview of the state of the world’s water resource and its future and led to the World Water Vision. On-line version available in English, French and Spanish. Executive summary available in French and Spanish
  5. ^ The Framework for Action aimed to design an approach to follow up on the strategy outlined in the World Water Vision. It was presented during the 2nd World Water Forum. On-line versions available here
  6. ^ Ministerial Declaration of The Hague on Water Security in the 21st Century, 2nd World Water Forum, The Hague, March 2000
  7. ^ The Final Report of the 2nd World Water Forum and Ministerial Conference can be found online here
  8. ^ Millennium Summit
  9. ^ International Freshwater Conference
  10. ^ World Summit on Sustainable Development
  11. ^ This document offers a concise view of the outcomes of the 3rd Forum as well as a reflection on future perspectives. On-line version available here. A complete report of the 3rd World Water Forum, the 3rd World Water Forum Final Report features facts and figures, speeches, statements and commitments, the Ministerial Declaration, thematic and regional statements, results of competitions and contests, reports and publications and list of Forum participants, among other things. On-line version available here
  12. ^ Winpenny, James. Financing Water for All. (2003). 54 p. On-line version available here. Executive summary also available in English and Japanese
  13. ^ The virtual water forum final report is a compilation of all the online sessions held during the 21 months prior to the 3rd World Water Forum. In addition to its descriptive content of discussions, the report contains detailed statistical data such as number of participants and postings. On-line version available here
  14. ^ The “Water Voice” project report can be found here
  15. ^ The World Water Actions report presents an overview and analysis of nearly 3000 actions around the world that address the urgent priorities identified in the "World Water Vision.” An annotated database of the actions can be consulted at: On-line overview available in English, French, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese
  16. ^ Laurence., Danver, Steven (2013-01-01). Native peoples of the world : an encyclopedia of groups, cultures, and contemporary issues. 3. M.E. Sharpe, Inc. p. 857. ISBN 9780765682222. OCLC 798498968. 
  17. ^ The synthesis of the 4th World Water Forum provides the main messages, lessons learnt, and key recommendations presented in all the events that comprised the Forum. On-line version available in English and in Spanish
  18. ^ The 4th World Water Forum Final Report: All the 4th World Water Forum’s components are presented in this compilation, which includes detailed descriptions of every session presented, summaries of each day’s outcomes, a review of activities in which various groups were involved, a presentation of the Water Fair and Expo, punctuated by photos of participants and events. On-line version available in English
  19. ^ "Asia-Pacific Water Forum". 
  20. ^ "Water integrity network". 
  21. ^ This report identifies the conditions necessary for effective implementation of the right to water and in particular the necessary implication of all stakeholders at the local and national levels. On-line version of the report available here. Summaries available in English, French and Spanish
  22. ^ This report evaluates progress made on water financing issues since Kyoto (March 2003). Full report and English Summary available online
  23. ^ This report compares eleven assessments costing MDG Target 10 on water supply and sanitation. It identifies potential weaknesses in each calculation method and explains the reasons for the differing estimates. It also highlights the difficulty of comparing the various estimated costs and of costing Target 10, and formulates recommendations for future cost assessments. On-line version available here. English Summary and French summary also available online
  24. ^ This report is an analysis of figures and trends of Official Development Assistance in the water sector through OECD data. On-line version available here. English Summary also available online
  25. ^ The 5th World Water Forum Final Report includes detailed information about sessions and activities organised during the 5th World Water Forum
  26. ^ Heads of State from a number of selected countries met and launched the Istanbul Declaration of Heads of States on Water, an appeal that seeks water security, climate adaptability and international solidarity through a more strategic use of the world’s most precious resource, water
  27. ^ The Istanbul Ministerial Statement addresses the global challenges related to water within the context of sustainable development and global changes. It includes many commitments, for example to intensify efforts to achieve MDG targets, implement IWRM and information sharing at the river-basin level and prevent and respond to water-related disasters
  28. ^ The Istanbul Water Guide is a more detailed accompaniment to the Istanbul Ministerial Statement
  29. ^ "Istanbul water consensus". 
  30. ^ Two hundred and fifty Local and Regional Authorities from forty-three countries were represented in Istanbul, 58 of which signed the Istanbul Water Consensus. That number has now grown to over 400
  31. ^ Report of the High-Level Expert Panel on Water and Disaster by United Nations Secretary General’s Advisory Board
  32. ^ The Global Water Framework: Official compilation of all the 5th World Water Forum outputs
  33. ^ Water at a Crossroads is an illustrated magazine published by the World Water Council, analysing a number of important cross-cutting issues discussed at the 5th World Water Forum
  34. ^
  35. ^

External links[edit]