The World Water Council is an International Water Policy Think Tank that was established in 1996, following recommendations issued at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. The World Water Council`s mission is : To promote awareness of critical water issues at all levels, including the highest decision-making level, to facilitate efficient conservation, protection, development, planning, management and use of water in all its dimensions on an environmentally sustainable basis for the benefit of all life on the earth.
The World Water Council is an international multi-stakeholder platform. It was established in 1996 on the initiative of renowned water specialists and international organizations, in response to an increasing concern about world water issues from the global community.
The World Water Council's mission is 'to promote awareness, build political commitment and trigger action on critical water issues at all levels, including the highest decision-making level, to facilitate the efficient conservation, protection, development, planning, management and use of water in all its dimensions on an environmentally sustainable basis for the benefit of all life on earth.'
By providing a platform to encourage debates and exchanges of experience, the Council aims to reach a common strategic vision on water resources and water services management amongst all stakeholders in the water community. In the process, the Council also catalyses initiatives and activities, whose results converge toward its flagship product, the World Water Forum.
The World Water Council is committed to a set of values that contributes to achieving the goals we pursue. These are:
- Transparency: the network is open to anyone organisation that subscribes to its objectives and information flows freely between its members;
- Democracy: the network is founded on democratic principles, one member one vote; opinions of all members are distributed freely around the network;
- Dignity: discussions are held in a dignified manner, everyone gets a chance to be heard when everyone gets a chance to listen;
- Independency: no special interests should interfere in bringing issues to the table when such issues are relevant to water;
- Participation: it is believed that complex issues such as water issues can only be addressed and solved by having all relevant stakeholders participate in discussions.
The Council's action for the triennial period until 2018 is oriented in priority towards bringing people together through active hydro-diplomacy, exploring new ideas and concepts and discussing issues while encouraging exchanges and networking.
The anticipated activities are situated in 4 specific domains:
- Water on the Political Agenda
- Exploring Water Security issues
- Co-organising World Water Forums
- Reinforcing the Organisation
Through its wide membership of organisations throughout the world, the Council spreads information about the processes it carries out in leading political, scientific and technical domains, in addition to practical perspectives and knowledge. It does this through a wide range of activities overseen by the Board of Governors, including the World Water Forums, multi-stakeholder dialogues, workshops, publications and online platforms.
The Council, as an umbrella organisation, follows three working principles:
- It restricts itself to policy-related issues and addresses other issues only if they are cross-cutting or controversial;
- It plays the role of facilitator for cross-cutting programs and does not do work that could be done by its members;
- It cooperates with its members to identify the policy implications of their work and helps them to develop and promote these implications.
The Council is financed primarily through membership fees and Forum licencing fees and additional support is provided by the host City of Marseille. Specific projects and programmes are financed through donations and grants from governments, international organisations and donors.
One of the Council's major accomplishments is its contribution to increasing awareness of global water issues and to political mobilisation through World Water Forums. Serving as stepping-stones towards global collaboration on water problems, the Forum is a unique platform where the water community and policy- and decision-makers from all regions of the world can come together, debate and attempt to find solutions to achieve water security.
In the past, the Forum has produced the World Water Vision, a unique prospective exercise on the future state of global water resources whose results were presented at the 2nd Forum, as well as the establishment of concrete actions and commitments derived from the 3rd Forum.
The Council has also played a strategic role in promoting and facilitating the establishment of dialogues on cross-cutting issues that were not sufficiently addressed, both at local levels and national levels. Key dialogues include those on Water for Food and Environment, and on Water and Climate.
In 2001, the Council raised the issue of financing to the top of its priorities by establishing the Panel on Financing Water Infrastructure, whose mandate was to look for new sources of funding for water to avoid the 2025 'water scarcity' scenario of the World Water Vision.
With the 4th World Water Forum, the Council established mechanisms for cooperation and coordination to transform global vision into concrete actions while integrating local knowledge.
The 5th Forum gave voice to the local authorities stakeholders’ who were encouraged to improve their water situation on a local level by signing the Istanbul Water Consensus, which has reached more than 1,000 signatories throughout the world.
From 2009 to 2012, political involvement though the Ministerial, Parliamentarian and local Authorities processes of the Forum has steadily increased and the Council‘s efforts have greatly contributed in raising Water higher on the political agenda.
Water is finally being acknowledged as a worldwide priority. During the 2012 Rio+20 Earth Summit, a Sustainable Development Dialogue was dedicated to Water. The Council’s aim is now to keep water on the table of high level discussions in view of the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.