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Round table on integrated water resource management and the role of local authorities


Within the framework of the 2008 Zaragoza Water Expo, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) set up a round table on integrated water resource management and the role of local authorities. This took place during the thematic week “sustainable water management - villages and cities: drinking water, sanitation and development” on 17th and 18th July 2008.

The event brought together government representatives, mayors and heads of public and private organisations in charge of water supply and sanitation, who were invited to present good practice implemented by cities and companies.

The round table, presided over by Dr Philippe Roch, former Secretary of State and Director of the Federal Office of the environment, forestry and landscape in Switzerland, was facilitated among others by the Mayor of Tangiers, the President of the Regional Council of Rabat, the President of the Toulon-Provence-Mediterranean Bay Contract and Mayor of Saint Mandrier, the Director of the metropolitan sanitation and drinking water company in Quito, the Director General of the IDRA Group in charge of water supply and sanitation in Milan, the Director of water purification and treatment for the National Water Commission (CONAGUA) in Mexico, as well as senior officials from UNITAR and Veolia who shared their experience with the guests.

The implementation of water efficiency plans requires a global and concerted approach to resource management, organised on the natural scale of the catchment areas, whether local, national or cross-border. These challenges relating to water governance can no longer be tackled separately, nor in a localised or sectoral manner. Solutions must be found based on a global and concerted approach, organised on a scale relevant to the catchment areas of rivers, lakes and aquifers, and in line with the regional planning and management programmes in place. This management must involve not only the administrative bodies, but also the representatives of the local populations and authorities. This was clearly demonstrated at the round table by case studies undertaken in cities in various countries.

Cities need good quality water for the supply systems intended for human consumption. Activities set up in cities have an impact on the quality and quantity of water available (surface waters and groundwater). The round table analysed these two aspects within the context of integrated water resource management.

Papers on this little explored subject will be summarised in a publication that will be used as a working document at future key meetings on water, such as the World Water Forum in Istanbul in March 2009.