While water and sanitation access rates are improving, almost 900 million people worldwide still practice open defecation and nearly a third do not have access to safely managed water services. In most cities and communities, public operators are expected to deliver on these human rights, but many struggle to meet the demand amid a growing set of challenges, from informal urbanization to diminishing water resources and climate change.
At the same time, many public utilities in Spain and elsewhere are reaching out to mentor their peers with sustainable solutions. By joining forces and resources with regional and national actors, these local efforts can go much further towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal on water (SDG 6), which calls for ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
On the eve of World Water Day 2019 (March 22nd), UN-Habitat’s Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) and Engineers Without Borders convened an event at Sant Pau, bringing together the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), regional cooperation agencies, as well as public utilities, to build links between their respective water-focused international development work.
With the theme “Leave No One Behind,” this year’s World Water Day emphasizes the need for all people to benefit from access to safe water and sanitation.
In response to this call, the first objective of the session was to share past and ongoing initiatives where water operators and municipalities from Spain engage with others across the globe to support capacity development towards ensuring improved access to water supply and sanitation. A second objective was to jointly reflect on how to strategically align water sector actors in Spain to optimize impact of Spanish development cooperation initiatives in the timeframe of the Agenda 2030 on the achievement of SDG6 and the Human Right to Water and Sanitation.
A key message from the dialogue highlighted the need for Spanish actors to establish a common vision for the practice of Water Operators’ Partnerships (WOPs), which is precisely the focus of GWOPA’s work coordinated from its Art Nouveau Site office. Furthermore, consensus was made to systematize the exchange of knowledge towards a more programmatic approach across the region.