World Water Week: The next wave of action

STOCKHOLM -- At the end of each Stockholm World Water Week, there is a call to action for the coming year and preparations begin for the next event.

This year's call to action is tied to the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development -- also known as Rio+20. At conference, member states agreed to launch a process to develop sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Rio+20 didn't state specific goals but said the SDGs should be limited in number, aspirational and easy to communicate. A U.N. working group is now preparing a proposal on the SDGs.

The World Water Week call to action, officially called the 2013 Stockholm Statement, asks the working group for a dedicated SDG goal on water:

"Water is at the core of sustainable global development and is a cross cutting resource. Within the post-2015 development agenda water should be considered and integrated into all relevant areas, such as energy and food security. Given the centrality of water for individuals, ecosystems and economic development, water is a powerful tool for cooperation across borders, sectors and communities. A dedicated goal on water is necessary for a world where all people can live in safety and dignity."

The 2013 Stockholm Statement calls for the following goals to be achieved:

• Doubling global water productivity

Part of the solution to address increased demand for water from population growth and associated energy and agricultural production requirements is to vastly increase water productivity. "Allocating water equitably and efficiently within the ecological constraints will require improved management of water quality, use and reuse of water resources," an event statement read. "These measures will help manage the increased demand -- allowing the required growth in the provision of food, energy, goods and services, underpinning socio economic development."

• Recognizing the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation

A focus on addressing access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) was a key theme of the 2013 SWWW, where investing in water and sanitation was described as a moral imperative, "a basic requirement for safety and dignity and is compelling from an economic reality." The release of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development's "WASH Pledge" is an example of how businesses are addressing this global issue.

• Increased resilience to water related disasters

Addressing the need for increased "resilience to water related disasters by comprehensive risk management, sustaining healthy ecosystems and improving water quality are prerequisites for the provision of safe water, food, energy and other basic needs for people and societies in the future we want." This goal is a call for integrated water resource management at all levels in the planning, building and governing of our societies will save lives, livelihoods and assets.

The theme for the 2014 World Water Week ties well into the Stockholm Statement goals. It is a focus on "convergence" of energy and water. The event, "Water and Energy – Making the Link," and its program is in the process of being built.

The 2013 Stockholm Statement, the 2014 theme and the dialog during this year's event sends a message that how we manage water has changed. Water is no longer a silo issue and is essential to the production of energy, food and goods, access to sanitation and hygiene, and the health of our ecosystems.