Water operators, development actors, civil society representatives, local governments and other stakeholders from the water and development sectors were present during the 3rd Global WOPs Congress in Barcelona and reitterated the essential role of water and sanitation utilities in achieving our sustainable development.
Bringing together actors from 85 countries at the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site in Barcelona, the Global WOPs Congress addressed specific topics related to the work of utilities including sanitation, resilience, finance and equity, among many others. Throughout the Congress, the role of WOPs and operator capacity development was highlighted and demonstrated through presentation of ongoing or past WOPs.
Deputy Mayor of Barcelona, Ms Janet Sanz Cid, welcomed Congress participants and stressed that effective water management is an integral part of a well-functioning city and access for all citizens must be guaranteed. Ms. Laura López de Cerain Salsamendi of the Spanish Development Agency highlighted the need to adopt an integrated approach, taking into account all stakeholders and areas, considering planning, equity as well as inclusion, and UN-Habitat Executive Director, Joan Clos, stressed the important foundation of sound urban planning, legislation and financial mechanisms to enable effective water management and service delivery in cities (watch the video).
The parallel thematic sessions discussed broad-ranging issues on themes related to operators work and the practice of Water Operators’ Partnerships. Regional sessions for Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean, showcased the diversity of WOPs practice on the ground, and provided the occasion for regional WOP stakeholders to plan next steps in their respective regional WOPs efforts. In the subsequent plenary sessions, high level experts discussed the consequences for water and sanitation operators of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals, rapid global urbanization and current financial challenges, and debated the best approaches for making the most of the opportunities they present.
The Congress closed with a keynote address by UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation, Leo Heller, who provided the state of progress toward the Human Right to Water and Sanitation at this crucial time as we globally move to the SDG framework. Mr Heller highlighted the renewed focus on quality of service, and the need for meaningful indicators. He commended the work of water operators on the ground, acknowledging the challenges they face and their essential role.
Initial outcomes of the Congress were presented in the summary presentation here. Full reports of the sessions are forthcoming.
The 3rd Global WOPs Alliance General Assembly was held at the end of the Congress during which GWOPA’s International Steering Committee was renewed through the election of approximately half of the seats. New members welcomed to the Steering Committee:
- Contra Costa Water District (Public Operator - North America)
- Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company Limited (Public Operator - Africa)
- North Lebanon Water Establishment (Public Operator - Arab Region)
- Asociación Nacional de Empresas de Agua y Saneamiento (ANEAS) (Public Operator - Latin America)
- FESAN (Public Operator - Latin America)
- Integrated Social Development Center (ISODEC) (Civil Society)
- Kenya County Government Workers Union (Labour Union)
- Aigues de Barcelona (Private sector operator)
- International Water Management Institute (Development Partner)
Outgoing steering Steering Committee members, SIAAP, Nairobi City Water & Sewerage Company (NCWSC), Sénégalaise des Eaux, CONTAGWAS, USAID, PAPC, EYDAP, OSE, SABESP were also thanked for their 4 years of contribution to the Alliance.