Building peace in the minds of men and women

UNESCO International Water Conference - 13 and 14 May 2019


The programme of the Conference will be regularly updated on this page, with the latest information available. Please download the pdf version here.


MONDAY 13 MAY 2019

Opening Ceremony

09:30 to 11:30, Room I

Welcoming Remarks

  • Ms Audrey Azoulay - UNESCO Director-General
  • H. E. Mr Serigne Mbaye Thiam - Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senegal

High-level Panel

  • Ms Maria C. Donoso [Chair] - Director, Division of Water Sciences, and Secretary, International Hydrological Programme a. i., UNESCO
  • Mr Zhenya LIU- Chair, GEIDCO
  • Mr Hamet Baby Ly - Chair, Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO-IHP, Senegal
  • Mr Loic Fauchon - President, World Water Council
  • Mr Jean-Louis Chaussade - CEO, Suez
  • Mr Torgny Holmgren - Executive, Stockholm International Water Institute

Energy Interconnection and Water in Africa

  • Mr LIANG Xuming - Chief Technology Officer, GEIDCO

This panel will explore and discuss initiatives and efforts to transfer hydropower and mineral resources to economic value for Africa, contributing to solve the dilemma that hampered Africa’s economy progress.

Africa is blessed with mineral resources and hydropower resources yet the process of economic and social development, industrialization and regional integration are largely stymied. It is in urgent need of innovative development models to solve the dilemma in order to support sustainable development in Africa.

Against the dilemma, the “Electricity-Mining-Metallurgy-Industry-Trade” initiative tackles a fairly new scope of development model: how to coordinate the exploration of hydropower energy bases, energy-intensive and high-volume customer like mining and metallurgical bases and industrial parks, in order to form an integrated market of power, mining and metallurgy industry so as to improve the process of industrialization. Consequently, African industry can be involved into global value chains through international trade. This initiative will effectively solve the problems like "industrial development lacks electricity, power development lacks market" by exploring the synergy effects from a dynamic perspective.

The African Energy Interconnection plays an essential role in the “Electricity-Mining-Metallurgy-Industry-Trade” initiative. The African Energy Interconnection can accelerate the development of hydropower resources, promote the construction of interconnection infrastructure, ensure clean, reliable and cheap energy supply. Thorugh promoting industrialization and regional integration in Africa, the coordination of “Electricity-Mining-Metallurgy-Industry-Trade” initiative and the African Energy Interconnection contribute to realize the development goal of the “UN 2030 Agenda” and the “AU 2063 Agenda”. These two efforts will support Africa to achieve independent and sustainable development and further to promote the building of a community of shared future for mankind.


  • Participants have a better understanding that the interaction of power and industry results enormous synergy effects which helps solve Africa’s development dilemma;
  • Participants are provided with an integrated idea of development model including the financing chain of mega projects;
  • Participants are provided with opportunities for cooperation and partnership.


  • Strengthened partnerships and enhanced investment in energy interconnection project;
  • Enhanced the knowledge on the utilization of natural resources and relative advantages for the development of Africa.


Thematic panels

Session 1: 12:00 to 13:30

Water and Technological Innovation [Room IV]

  • Mr Moez Chakchouk [Chair] - Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO
  • H. E. Mr Erik Grigoryan - Minister of Nature Protection, Armenia
  • Mr Hak-soo Lee - CEO, K-Water
  • Mr Wouter Buytaert - Professor, Imperial College London
  • Mr Imre Takacs - CEO, Dynamita
  • Mr Bernard De Potter - Director-General, Flanders Environment Agency
  • Mr Pradeep Mujumdar - Professor, IISc

This panel will explore and examine how new technologies are shaping water security and enhancing resilience.

Of late, technological solutions are transforming water resources management and optimization at an unprecedented pace. Management and governance of water resources are being influenced, from simple utilization of low cost sensors to the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics. Such influences are, inter-alia, helping to make reliable estimation of freshwater supplies, foster access to high quality water, improve irrigation efficiencies for food production, and make industrial processes for energy production more sustainable.

The technological innovations are not only improving the efficiency and optimization of processes of water resources management, but are also offering new opportunities and solutions to ensure confident decision making. Technological innovations also enable access to vast amounts of information generated by adverse platforms, unthinkable a few years ago. Most of these technologies have been contributing to better operation, maintenance and management of water resources, thus fostering their sustainable use and lasting resilience.

The role of technologies in water efficiency constitute a key policy issue with potential for new research areas and solutions oriented towards decision-supporting systems for the assessment of water quality and quantity. Such policies are reliant on linking high-quality focused scientific research to new policy-relevant interdisciplinary efforts for global sustainability.

The objective of this panel is to empower participants and provide them with an opportunity to understand how recent and state-of-the-art research using new technologies is helping water users and policy-makers to understand and benefit from the behaviour of the water cycle. In particular, the panel will look at how new technological developments in sensing, data processing, and communication can be utilized for improving water security and enhancing resilience; how new technology can improve citizens’ participation in both demand as well as supply side of water; how new techniques are assisting information downscaling; and how the new technology is providing new insights into polycentric governance for generating actionable knowledge and facilitating decision-making under deep uncertainties.


  • Participants are informed on how technologies are addressing challenges of water resources management;
  • Participants are acquainted with the need and usage of Artificial Intelligence (AI), citizen science, downscaling, data driven technologies and appreciate how they are shaping water security and enhancing resilience;
  • Participants are provided with an opportunity to understand the benefits and constraints of technology-enabled citizen science;
  • Participants are aware of research developments in research and design of user-friendly technological solutions that optimise water resource management;
  • Participants are provided with a space for future collaboration and partnerships.


  • Enhanced knowledge on the utilization of new technology, downscaled data, and uncertainty reduction for water security and resilience;
  • Strengthened partnerships for the use of new technologies.

Water Education for Sustainable Development [Room II]

  • Ms Stefania Giannini [Chair] - Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO
  • H. E. Ms Arlette Soudan-Nonault - Minister of Tourism and Environment, Republic of Congo
  • H. E. Mr Samir Taieb - Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, Tunisia
  • Mr Hakan Tropp - Head of Water Governance, OECD
  • Mr Eddy Moors - Rector, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education
  • Ms Budtuya Genden - Principal, Khan Uul Complex School
  • Mr Azbayar Azjargal - Student, Khan Uul Complex School

This panel will explore and discuss initiatives and efforts to rethink educational programmes and systems through the lens of water security and sustainability and cover all forms of education, training, information, awareness and learning on sustainable water management and governance.

Water sustainability entails geographic, political, scientific, cultural, economic and social factors and involves political commitment, community action, technological advances and many other factors, including those influenced by cultural and academic disciplines. It also entails working with mass and community media professionals to improve their capacity to communicate water issues accurately and efficiently.

Educational systems must take all of these factors, perspectives and different actors into account when teaching about solutions and good practices in relation to water management, governance and sustainability. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), for which UNESCO is the lead UN agency, has been recognized as “an integral element of the Sustainable Development Goal on quality education and a key enabler of all the other Sustainable Development Goals.” (UNGA Resolution 72/222). Addressing water issues through ESD can highlight the interlinkages between almost all 17 goals.

Water education helps to build knowledge and awareness regarding water management and use, as well as enabling all citizens to participate in policy-making related to water issues. For that reason, increasing attention is given to international initiatives aimed at strengthening water education at all levels and in all forms and qualifications to adapt to our changing world. Water education and capacity building, dedicated to providing the knowledge and skills required to face some of the current and most pressing water challenges must be delivered within a lifelong learning perspective: Water education for Sustainable Development should not be a standalone action, but rather an integral part of any education system and capacity-building strategy. It can be provided in all formal (e.g. schools, universities, and polytechnic or technological institutions), non-formal (e.g. adult literacy and various educational institutions) and informal (e.g. family, community and everyday life) settings.

It develops reflective learning; critical thinking; the use of holistic and integrative approaches; interdisciplinary methods and applied research learning such as field studies, alongside improving knowledge, skills, values and best practices regarding water issues in general. Water education should also build the capacity of all citizens to participate in policy-making related to water issues, and should especially strengthen the capacity of women and youth to be educated to these issues and to participate to water governance, as they play a critical role in communities.

The panel will explore and promote initiatives and efforts to rethink educational programmes and systems through the lens of water management and sustainability, and cover all forms of education, training, information, awareness and learning on water issues. In particular, it will look at dynamic and participatory pedagogies, including examples from the UNESCO Associated Schools Network (ASPnet), which puts people at the centre of all water interventions and integrated water resources management processes, and will share the experience of specialized higher-education institutions in the field of water education.


  • Participants have a better understanding that water education within a lifelong learning perspective helps to build knowledge and awareness regarding water resources assessment and management, and enables citizens to participate in water governance through policy-making related to water issues;
  • Participants are exposed to examples illustrating that water education is relevant and responsive to local needs and aspirations;
  • Participants are provided with examples of integrating water management and governance as a cross-cutting element in local, national and regional educational and training policies and programmes;
  • Participants are provided with opportunities for cooperation and partnerships


  • Opportunities provided for individuals (highlighting the major role of youth and women) and institutions to be empowered to assess their behaviours, strategies, contexts and environment in relation to water governance and water sustainability;
  • Learners prepared to critically reflect on the interlinkages related to water issues among the 17 SDGs, for example, but not limited to goals 6, 7, 13 and 16 regarding water security issues, but also on perspectives from SDG 4 on education;
  • Strengthened partnerships and enhanced investment in water education.

Towards a new global vision for water ethics on the Earth [Room XI]

  • Ms Nada Al-Nashif [Chair] - Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO
  • H. E. Mr Abdelkader Amara - Minister of Equipment, Transport, Logitics and Water, Morocco
  • H. E. Mr João Pedro Matos Fernandes - Minister of Environment and Energy Transition, Portugal
  • Ms Grace Sirju-Charran - Vice-President, COMEST
  • Ms Rita Teutonico - Chair, UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Water Security
  • Ms Livia Pomodoro - President, Milan Center for Food Law and Policy

This panel will explore and discuss initiatives and efforts to shift water ethics from a human-centered approach to one looking at the Earth and its ecosystem at large, contributing to understand and overcome the challenges that imped sustainable water security.

The need for a set of guiding principles to manage Earth’s water resources in an ethical manner is grounded in the understanding of the crucial importance and uniqueness of water for sustainability of life on Earth and the challenges raised by human-made climate change, pollution and overexploitation of natural resources with a dramatic impact on ecosystems. In the domain of ethics, questions of scientific knowledge come together with aspects of cultural meaning and perception; questions of conservation, sanitation, and health promotion come together with questions of justice, equity, and human rights; questions of sustainability and biodiversity come together with questions of democratic governance, law, and policy.

Many questions confront the world today. How can we ensure that an adequate supply of clean water is available, both for today and for coming generations? How equitable will access to it be? How should it be managed, and by whom? What will the implications of climate change be on the quality and quantity of fresh water? Is clean water really the oil of the twenty-first century, i.e. a source of wealth, geopolitical power and tension? Will social change concerning water use come through technological innovation or through cultural and value change, or some combination of both?

Different ways of conceptualizing what water is and how it should be used it have different ethical implications. Understanding water supplies as commodities to be bought and sold, and as property to be controlled unilaterally by certain individuals or groups, has different implications for fulfilling the ethical principles (such as human rights, and social and environmental justice) than does understanding it as a fragile component of an ecosystemic commons upon which we all depend in several ways.

As highlighted by the 2018 report entitled “Water Ethics: Ocean, Freshwater, Coastal Areas” of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), a new, holistic approach to water ethics should not only recognizes the strong links among water bodies (surface water, groundwater and marine waters), but also the interdependency between and of humans and other living beings on water. This requires a shift from an anthropocentric approach to a more ecocentric approach based in part on principles of equity while recognizing cultural and ecosystem diversity. The focus of water ethics is therefore not on water in isolation, but on all forms of water and all concerns of human and ecosystem nature.

The panel will foster dialogue between different stakeholders and actors, and stimulate debate through insights on current scientific, cultural and societal challenges from invited speakers.


  • Participants are provided with a new, holistic approach to Water Ethics that not only recognizes the strong links among different water bodies, but also the interdependency of humans with other living beings on water, requiring a shift from an anthropocentric approach to a more ecocentric approach of water ethics based on principles of equity while recognizing cultural and ecosystem diversity.
  • Participants have a better understanding that an ecosystemic approach to water ethics proposes an ethical framework with guiding principles that can sensitize and impact public policies and technological solutions on water uses.
  • Participants are provided with opportunities for cooperation and partnerships.


  • Enhanced understanding by the participants of the timely and important new framework with guiding principles of water ethics that addresses the interconnectedness and the dependency between human beings and the environment and of its relevance for elaboration of enlightened and responsible decisions regarding water uses and sustainable management of freshwater and ocean, which are more adapted and respectful of local and regional situations and people.
  • Enhanced capacity to engage in a dialogue between the public, stakeholders and the scientific community regarding the choices and our common responsibility towards responsible and sustainable water management.


Lunch and Side-events

13:30 to 15:30

Water Security [13:30-14:30, Room IV]

Organized by the UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Water Security at the Florida International University Institute of Water and Environment (FIU-InWE), USA; with the International Centre for Water Security and Sustainable Management (i-WSSM), Republic of Korea; and the Regional Centre on Water Security (CERSHI) at Universidad Autonoma Nacional de Mexico (UNAM), in collaboration with Instituto Mexicano de Tecnologia del Agua (IMTA), Mexico.


  • Mr Andras Szollozi-Nagy - CEO, Water Future & Member, Advisory Board of the UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Water Security
  • H. E. Mr Myung-rae Cho - Minister of Environment, Republic of Korea
  • Ms Blanca Jimenez Cisneros - CEO, CONAGUA, Mexico
  • Mr Yang-su Kim - Director, International Centre for Water Security and Sustainable Management (i-WSSM), Republic of Korea
  • Mr Fernando Gonzalez Villarreal - Director, Regional Centre on Water Security (CERSHI), Mexico
  • Mr Leonel Lagos - Deputy Director, Applied Research Center of Florida International University (ARC-FIU) & Theme Coordinator UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Water Security

The panel will explore and discuss initiatives and efforts related to water security and sustainability around the globe.

Today, water systems are faced with several challenges, which can be categorized as technical, institutional, political, financial and information-related. These challenges are further compounded by global and regional change pressures and associated risks and uncertainties. Water security is an increasing concern to the developing world considering population growth, uncontrolled urban expansion, increased water infrastructure decay, land use changes, water quality degradation, growing impact of extreme hydrological events and other effects of global change. In effectively dealing with the complex, rapid environmental and demographical changes and challenges, holistic, multidisciplinary and environmentally sound approaches to water resources management and protection policy need to be sought to attain sustainability. Furthermore, the deterioration of hydraulic infrastructure is requiring a level of investment which poses a challenge even to developing countries and is critically impacting the sustainability of water security enterprises and operations. Despite these multiple challenges, there are opportunities to be tapped effectively to transform unsustainable water systems to sustainable. Some of the key opportunities include: strategic planning processes, integrated water management, sustainable, flexible and resilient technologies, emerging economic development, emerging urban centers in developing countries and green economy (UNESCO IHP Strategy, 2012).

The event aims to discuss sustainable Water Security issues around the globe in the context of the work undertaken and planned by the UNESCO Water Security Centers and Chair. The participants will be exposed to ongoing efforts in advancing the knowledge needed to address complex water security issues, both locally and globally, through interdisciplinary research, education, capacity building and public engagement. The event will bring together government officials, academics, researchers and water professionals with representatives of local, regional, and international programs and stakeholders.


  • Participants have a better understanding on Water Security from the perspective of water quantity, quality, and security per-se;
  • Participants are expose to water resources assessment and management processes that enables citizens to participate in water governance to strengthen water security in their communities or region;
  • Participants are exposed to examples illustrating water security approaches are that relevant and responsive to local needs and changing scenarios;
  • Participants are provided with examples of integrating water management and governance as a cross-cutting element in local, national and regional water security policies and programmes;
  • Participants are provided with opportunities for cooperation and partnerships.


  • Opportunities provided for individuals and institutions to assess and define strategies to increase water security in the context of water governance and water sustainability;
  • Established or strengthened partnerships and enhanced investment in water security.


How the UN system supports Member States to achieve SDG 6 and other water-related targets [14:30-15:30, Room IV]

Organized by UN-Water


  • Mr Olcay Ünver - Vice-Chair, UN-Water
  • UNESCO representative
  • Mr Federico Properzi - Chief Technical Adviser, UN-Water
  • Ms Daniella Bostrom - Communications Manager, UN-Water

United Nations Water (UN-Water) is the coordination mechanism of 32 UN agencies, including UNESCO, and 41 other international organizations to support Member States achieve internationally agreed water-related goals and targets.

In this side event, participants in the Conference will get a chance to learn more about how the UN system coordinates its work to support Member States’ implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 6 and how the coordinated work has helped place water and sanitation at the heart of milestone agreements.

Participants will also be briefed about and will have the opportunity to discuss ongoing processes, such as the upcoming UN high-level meetings in 2021 and 2023 as mandated by UN General Assembly resolution 73/226 on the “Midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action, ‘Water for Sustainable Development’ 2018-2028”.


Science Diplomacy for Sustainable Development of Water Resources in the Arab Region and Neighboring Countries [13:45-15:15, Room II]

Organized by the UNESCO Office in Cairo, Egypt

Opening Remarks

  • H. R. H. Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan of Jordan - UNESCO Special Envoy for Science for Peace, and President, Royal Scientific Society of Jordan


  • Mr. Ghaith Fariz [Chair] - Director, UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science for the Arab States
  • H. R. H. Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan of Jordan - UNESCO Special Envoy for Science for Peace, and President, Royal Scientific Society of Jordan
  • H. E. Mr Khaled Al Fadhel - Minister of Electricity and Resources, Kuwait, and Chair of the Arab Ministerial Water Council
  • H. E. Mr Raed Muzafar Abou Soud - Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Jordan
  • H. E. Mr Mazen Ghuneim - Minister and President of the Palestinian Water Authority, Palestine
  • H. E. Mr Mahmoud Abu Zeid - President, Arab Water Council, and Vice-chair, Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO-IHP representing the Arab States
  • Ms Roula Majdalani - Director of the Division of Sustainable Development, UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia
  • Mr Fadi Comair - Secretary General, Ministry of Energy and Water, Lebanon

This side event aims to expand the consultation and engagement of Member States and experts in the “Water Security for All: Science Diplomacy for Sustainable Development of Water Resources in the Arab Region and Neighboring Countries” initiative. The Initiative, which was launched by the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science for the Arab States, aims to meaningfully contribute to the establishment of a regional water status that is based on equitable, efficient, and sustainable utilization of water resources of the Arab region and neighboring countries. Building on previous experiences, the initiative takes a pragmatic developmental approach to science diplomacy. With achievement of the globally endorsed SDGs providing the overall umbrella, the suggested approach is anchored to four major pillars. These are: adopting mutual socioeconomic, environmental and cultural benefits as major entry points for science/water diplomacy in the region, promotion and deployment of science and technology to address the pressing water challenges; promotion of effective water governance to guide and control suggested interventions; and trust building as an indispensable prerequisite for any science diplomacy initiative. These four pillars are translated into actionable programmes as following:


  • Achieving the SDGs for all and by all: the mutual benefit programme
  • Know Your Neighbor: Building mutual trust
  • Effective and efficient deployment of knowledge and science and technology
  • Matching capabilities for all: Stronger and More Capable Partners .


Within the overall objective of amassing support and mobilization ore resources for the initiative, the UNESCO International Water Conference presents an ideal opportunity for UNESCO to engage high-level policy makers and experts from various regions and disciplines in further refining the approaches and methodology of the initiative and in exploring innovative strategies towards its implementation.

The side event shall include three segments. The first segment will include a brief introduction by the moderator and a presentation describing the initiative, its key pillars and an outline of its first “mobilization through action” initiation phase. The second segment features a moderated high-level (Ministers, NGO leaders, and regional organizations) panel discussion focusing on the initiative pillars and the proposed activities under each pillar. The third segment engages the participants in open discussion both with the presenters of the initiative and with the distinguished panel.


  • Participants, including Member States’ representatives, have a better understanding of the Water Securit5y for All Initiative and its different pillars and proposed programmes;
  • A dialogue about science diplomacy, the concept of mutual benefits, and capacity development is triggered and feedback is received by the proponents of the initiative;
  • Member States, and conference participants are provided with opportunity to engage in the initiative and participate in refining its approaches and methodology;
  • Opportunities for developing partnerships in achieving the initiative’s goals are enhanced.


  • The introduction of this water security for all science diplomacy initiative to the Member States, donors, and participants in the UNESCO International Water Conference;
  • The conceptual framework of the initiative is debated and refined;
  • Member states, donors, and experts become interested in joining efforts within the initiative’s framework;
  • Dialogue among the “directly concerned member states” (Arab and neighboring countries) is initiated around the initiative’s approach.



Thematic panels

Session 2: 15:30 to 17:00

Data for Water-related Decision-Making [Room II]

  • Ms Shamila Nair-Bedouelle [Chair] - Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, UNESCO
  • H. E. Mr Laurent Tchagba - Minister of Hydraulics, Côte d'Ivoire
  • Mr Neil Dhot - Executive Director, AquaFed
  • Mr Ickhoon Choi - Executive Director, Korea Environment Corporation
  • Ms Blanca Jimenez Cisneros - CEO, CONAGUA
  • Mr Jean-Didier Berthault - Vice-President, SIAAP
  • Ms Akiça Bahri - Professor, National Agricultural Institute of Tunisia

This panel will explore and discuss initiatives and efforts to overcome the challenges of gathering data and transforming them into information usable by decision-makers, practitioners and users, towards the sustainable and cross-sectoral management and governance of water resources.

Governments across the globe face pressure to improve how they allocate and spend resources, and deliver public goods and services. In this regard, data, information and knowledge are critical for understanding how to share and use limited resources to respond to the needs of people, the economy and the environment. This forms the basis of sound, science-informed decision-making process, and ensures a sound management and governance of water resources.

Knowledge derives from contextualized information, which itself consists of data (i.e. raw facts) that has been processed, organized and structured data to make it meaningful and usable. Despite the increasing gathering and availability of data in many parts of the world, the use of information to inform policies for improving the management of fresh water resources remains limited. Reasons include a shortage of financial and human resources, a lack of commitment and investment from political leadership, gaps in technical skills, and an absence of clearly defined strategies and mechanisms to support the sharing and use of data and information. Those elements represent major development and management challenges for countries, decision-makers, and water managers.

In order to guarantee the efficiency of water resources management – i.e. its sustainability, and ability to forecast, adapt, and be resilient to change (whether climate change, population growth, extreme event such as flood or drought, etc.) it is essential to develop tools to foster access to as well as use of information and knowledge by decision-makers and water-stakeholders at large. Strategies in this sense include the implementation of visualization tools, the use of open-access, the creation of communities of practice, etc.

This session will discuss – through the exchange of good practices and lessons learned – how to foster the collection and use of data to create information and knowledge and provide the basis for decision-making. It will also question how to foster cooperation between sectors for sharing water-related information to the benefit of resources management and sustainability.


  • Participants have a better understanding of the current and future knowledge-access landscape and opportunities within it;
  • Participants have identified available information and have highlighted ways to bridge knowledge gaps;
  • Participants have an improved knowledge and better understanding of good practices and lessons learned on information-driven decision-making;
  • Participants are better equipped to understand what actions can be undertaken in order to promote and give visibility to the results and achievements of their projects;
  • Participants are provided with opportunities for cooperation and partnerships.


  • Capacities built for enhanced, scientifically sound, decision-making;
  • Strengthened management of water resources through a better understanding of the use, exchange, ownership and sustainability of data and information;
  • Promotion of access to information and dissemination of knowledge;
  • Strengthened partnerships and cooperation.

Thirsty for change: Promoting a gender-responsive approach to achieve water security [Room IV]

  • Ms Saniye Gülser Corat [Chair] - Director, UNESCO Division for Gender Equality
  • H. E. Ms Emanuela Del Re - Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Italy
  • Mr Almotaz Abadi - Director of the Division on Water and Environment, Union for the Mediterranean
  • Ms Diana Ulloa - Professor, Central University of Ecuador, and Former Subsecretary of SENAGUA, Ecuador
  • Ms Euphrasie Kouassi Yao - Advisor to the President, Côte d'Ivoire
  • Mr Canisius Kanangire - Executive Secretary, African Ministers' Council on Water
  • Ms Michela Miletto - Deputy Coordinator, UNESCO World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)
  • Ms Mariet Verhoef-Cohen - President, Women for Water Partnership, and President, Soroptimist International

This panel will facilitate a transdisciplinary discussion on advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment in the water realm to achieve the 2030 Agenda through evidence-based gender-transformative water policies and management.

Some of the issues related to gender in the realm of water that will be discussed during this panel include:

  • Gender, water and education - Globally, women tend to be disproportionally in charge of domestic water burden, which contributes to diminishing their educational and employment opportunities. For instance, it is estimated that the time spent by women and girls searching for water in Sub-Saharan Africa exceeds 40 billion hours per year.
  • Gender inequalities in water governance - How water is distributed, who has access and can make decisions on its use, depends on various social, structural and institutional factors, including power relations between men and women. Women's voice and influence in water governance must be leveraged to achieve water security at the local, regional and transboundary levels, as well as to ensure that no one is left behind. Collecting and analyzing sex-disaggregated water data provides scientific evidence to inform data-driven policies that tackle gender inequity/ inequality and are gender-transformative.
  • Human rights to water and sanitation and gender dimension - The human rights to water and sanitation, as recognized by the UN General Assembly’s resolution 64/292 (July 2010), entitle everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable water for personal and domestic use. Women and girls tend to experience and manage access—and the lack of access—to water and sanitation differently from men and boys. Unpacking the human rights principles contributes to promoting gender-transformative policies and programmes that are effective and sustainable.
  • Water scarcity, employment and migration: a gender-connected nexus - Evidence shows that growing climatic variability has impacts on water availability and quality, which in turn jeopardizes social stability and jobs for the younger generations, especially women. This is particularly true in arid and semi-arid regions, where often migration is both the result of and a way to adapt to climate-induced environmental stresses.
  • Women: repository of indigenous knowledge on water - Indigenous peoples have inhabited over millennia fragile ecosystems, sensitive to over-exploitation and to the effects of climate change. They developed management practices adequate for the preservation of water and the environment, and incorporated them into their beliefs and legends. These beliefs and legends constitute a repository of effective management practices comprising information on strategies of adaptation to environmental change and mitigation of its effects. Women are often those that retain and transfer traditional knowledge on how to protect, store, and save water, in a model of management where water is a fruit of the earth that belongs to everyone and to nobody, but with the important condition of equitable distribution regulated by availability.


  • Participants have a better understanding of the interlinkages between gender and water in a variety of fields and through geographical perspectives, such as education, traditional knowledge, science and policies, economic empowerment and human rights, among others, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);
  • Participants are familiarised with the good practices implemented in different countries adopting a gender equality perspective to better understand the provision, management and conservation of the world’s water resources;
  • Participants are provided with opportunities for cooperation and partnerships to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the water realm at the programmatic and policy levels.


  • Strengthened interdisciplinary partnerships and cooperation to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs, in particular SDG 5 on achieving gender equality and empower all women and girls and SDG 6 on ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all;
  • Increased awareness on how to bridge the policy-science interface, including through the collection and analysis of sex-disaggregated water data;
  • Gender-transformative actions in the water strategies at national and regional level are supported by inter-sectoral and holistic approach.

Water and Heritage [Room XI]

  • Mr Ernesto Ottone Ramirez [Chair] - Assistant Director-General for Culture, UNESCO
  • Mr Henk van Schaik - Chair, Water and Heritage Initiative
  • Ms Susan Keitumetse - Okavango Research Institute
  • Ms Ana Aleksova - Ministry of Culture, North Macedonia
  • Mr Jorge Trevejo Mendez - Civil Engineer, Ministry of Education, Peru
  • Mr Slimane Hachi - Professor, Regional Centre for the Safeguarding of Immaterial Cultural Heritage in Africa
  • Mr Wayan Windia - Director, Subak Research Institute

This panel will explore the cultural significance of water and the importance of trans-sectoral water management for the protection of heritage through a number of case studies.

Water is essential for human lives and is a fundament for all civilizations. Freshwater is one of the basic needs for the survival of human beings, so it is not surprising that ensuring the availability of freshwater and conserving water resources have been central to many cultures of the world. Where water is scarce, civilizations have invented sophisticated ways to manage water resources. Water heritage reflects human ingenuity, tireless efforts and trial-and-errors to achieve optimal use of water in often challenging natural environment. However, fine-tuned social organization evolved along with the heritage has enabled people to manage water in a cooperative and inclusive manner. The proposed panel will explore the cultural significance of water heritage and the importance of water management for the protection of heritage.

An introductory presentation on the session’s topic shall set the scene from an academic perspective and frame the case studies presented during the session. The presentation will be held by Henk van Schaik, Water and Heritage Ambassador of ICOMOS Netherlands, and Editor of the volume « Water and Heritage ».

The following case studies will be presented by experts:

  • Traditional system of Corongo’s water judges (Peru) - The Traditional System of Corongo’s Water Judges is an organizational method developed by the people of the district of Corongo in Northern Peru, embracing water management and historical memory. The system, which dates back to pre-Inca times, is primarily aimed at supplying water fairly and sustainably, which translates into proper land stewardship, thereby ensuring the existence of these two resources for future generations. Inscribed in 2017 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
  • Knowledge and skills of the water measurers of the foggaras or water bailiffs of Touat and Tidikelt (Algeria) - The water measurers of the foggaras (system of channels), or water bailiffs, of the ksour (village) communities of Touat and Tidikelt in Algeria are involved in various operations, from calculating water shares to repairing distribution combs and conducting water in the channels. They are a key figure in the life of the Saharan ksour because they manage a domain vital to the survival of all. They play both an intellectual and a manual role and can be called upon continuously by the community. Inscribed in 2018 on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
  • Cultural Landscape of Bali Province: the Subak System as a Manifestation of the Tri Hita Karana Philosophy (Indonesia) - Cultural landscape of Bali Province in Indonesia, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2012, encapsulates knowledge of sustainable and cooperative water management for the past millennium. The landscapes have been shaped and safeguarded by a group of subak, self-governing associations of farmers who share responsibility for the just and efficient use of irrigation water needed to cultivate terraced paddy rice fields. Water is managed at the watershed scale with elaborate networks of canals, tunnels and weirs across the landscapes, and the system allows the delivery of small quantities of water with remarkable accuracy. Inscribed in 2012 on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Okavango Delta (Botswana) - The Okavango Delta in Botswana is a vast oasis of life for people and biodiversity in the middle of a semi desert ecosystem. This unique wetland system that is almost intact has been providing a base of living and nurtured cultural diversity and traditional knowledge of local communities and indigenous peoples, notably the San people, for millennia. While the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2014 for its outstanding natural characteristics, the World Heritage Committee acknowledged that the local and indigenous values, traditions and cultural rights are an integral part of the protection and management requirements of the site. Inscribed in 2014 on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
  • Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid region (North Macedonia) - In the Lake Ohrid region, some of Europe’s earliest human settlements and heritage routes border one of its oldest and deepest lakes. Archaeological remains, urban structures and traditional fishing settlements along the lakeshore demonstrate the intersection of culture and water as a natural resource. Its oligotrophic waters boast a high level of biodiversity as a result of its uninterrupted biological activity and geographic isolation. Innovative governance models are needed to protect the lake’s complex heritage at watershed-scale. A promising avenue in this respect is the establishment of the transboundary UNESCO Biosphere Reserve “Ohrid-Prespa,” which is governed by the Lake Ohrid Bilateral Watershed Management Committee of Albania and North Macedonia. Inscribed in 1979 on the UNESCO World Heritage List.


  • Participants have a better appreciation of the importance and cultural significance of water related heritage and of the interaction between people and nature;
  • Participants have an improved knowledge on the cultural aspects of water management;
  • Participants understand the importance of protecting water heritage in order to achieve SDG 6 (especially in relation to SDG Target 6.6 on the protection and restoration of water-related ecosystems) on ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.


  • Lessons learned on how people have been and still are organizing themselves around water heritage;
  • Integration of water-related heritage in present and future water-related planning and policy development;
  • Strengthened partnerships and cooperation.


Session 3: 17:30 to 19:00

Global Change and its Effects on Freshwater and Ocean Systems from an Earth System and SDGs Perspective [Room IV]

  • Mr Vladimir Ryabinin [Chair] - Assistant Director-General and Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, UNESCO
  • H. E. Mr Alfred Maoh - Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Vanuatu
  • H. E. Mr Bakhodir Ruziboyev - First Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Uzbekistan
  • Mr András Szöllősi-Nagy - Professor, National University for Public Service, Hungary
  • Mr Torkil Jønch Clausen - Chair, Action Platform for Source-to-Sea Management
  • Mr Paulo Salles - President Director, Regulatory Agency For Water, Energy and Sanitation Services of Federal District, Brazil
  • Mr Boram Lee - Senior Scientific Officer, World Climate Research Programme, WMO

This panel will demonstrate and mainstream an earth system approach to the understanding of processes affecting ocean and freshwater systems and to the management of such systems.

Ocean processes ought to be studied through an earth system approach. Ocean research, systematic observations and the gathering of data at multiple scales have paved the ground for the development of models of the ocean and climate that have elucidated fundamental processes in the earth system. Currently the international community is able to rely on increasingly comprehensive operational ocean observing systems, integrated seal-level observations, ocean hazards warning systems, and new prediction tools to assist policy-making. In this context, international scientific cooperation and related capacity building are of the outmost importance. The experience of ocean research and monitoring mirrors that of similar efforts related to atmospheric research and monitoring. Freshwater systems are also affected by ocean, atmosphere and climate dynamics.

The Panel will elucidate how scientific research and observations in these areas are organized and models and predictions developed. It will provide an opportunity to show the uptake of scientific information to support management. Hence, panelists will represent both the active scientific community and national management organizations. They will illustrate how science brings value to the ocean and freshwater management communities.

The Panel will also present cases highlighting multi-sectoral approaches and science-based management at different scales, particularly the transboundary level. In addition to that, the Panel will showcase replicable examples of management along the freswhater to ocean (or source-to-sea) continuum. The Panel will also help participants and ultimately Member States to understand how to achieve and map accross the related targets in SDG6, 14 and other related goals.

With the upcoming United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), the design of which is coordinated by IOC on behalf of the UN, the international community will take the lead on coordinating efforts aiming to reverse the pattern of declining oceans’ health and to create better conditions to develop sustainably oceans, seas and coasts. This can only be based on strengthened predictive capabilities based on an integrated approach to the way in which different elements of the 'earth system – the ocean, the atmosphere, freshwater systems and the cryosphere behave and influence each other.


  • Participants will have a better understanding of the current knowledge (and gaps therein) of earth processes affecting ocean and freshwater systems, including modelling and prediction tools that are available;
  • Participants will have been provided with demonstrations of the uptake of scientific information to support management of ocean and freshwater resources;
  • Participants will have a better understanding of the objectives of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), and provided with an opportunity to express an interest to contribute to it.


  • Multiple stakeholders use scientific knowledge and decision support tools based on science, to support the sustainable management of ocean and freshwater resources;
  • Member States understand contribute to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) and to other relevant initiatives relevant to freshwater systems.

Sustainable Water and Energy [Room XI]

Description coming soon

Water and Disasters [Room II]

  • Mr Kenzo Hiroki [Chair] - Coordinator, HELP
  • H. E. Mr Kefentse Mzwinila - Minister of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, Botswana
  • H. E. Mr Ambroise Ouedraogo - Minister of Water and Sanitation, Burkina Faso
  • Mr Seung-soo Hang - Chair, HELP
  • Ms Uschi Eid - Former Chair, UNSGAB
  • Ms Ursula Shaefer-Preus - Former Chair, GWP
  • Mr Toshio Koike - Director, ICHARM

This panel will explore and discuss initiatives and efforts for strengthening governance and investment through transdisciplinary communication and collaboration between the science and technology community and other stakeholders.

To strengthen water-related risk governance and accountability, we need to promote dialogue between scientific sectors and policy makers; facilitate networking between them; and create and implement a systematic framework in which decisions for planning and development are made based on scientific evidence. To encourage investment in water-related disaster risk reduction and adaptation for resilience, we also need to develop and implement tailor-made methods to assess disaster risks and share those among relevant Government agencies and key stakeholders including international financial institutions and the private sector at large as the main investor in all countries.

Increasing water-related disaster resilience and sustainable development under climate change involves many stakeholders. As highlighted in Priority 2 of the Sendai Framework, strengthened disaster risk governance at national, regional, and global levels is a basic strategy to achieve effective disaster risk reduction and build resilience. The outcome document of the High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) titled on “Making Every Drop Count” emphasises that “platforms on Water Resilience and Disasters among all stakeholders should be formulated in countries to facilitate dialogue and scale up community-based practices.”

It is essential to promote transdisciplinary communication and collaboration among all stakeholders on the platforms. We should develop a mechanism that allows platform partners to share information on science and technology for water-related disaster risk reduction, reviews the status and issues of ongoing efforts, enhances multi-sectoral discussion, and achieve consensus on the practical measures to be designed and implemented from a macro perspective.


  • Participants have a better understanding of the misery of drought and destruction of floods intensified by climate change all over the world;
  • Participants share current needs and key directions and challenges to be taken for reducing water-related disaster risk;
  • Participants are provided with lessons learned from previous efforts and good practices of water-related disaster risk designed and implemented based on scientific and technological principles opportunities for cooperation and partnerships;
  • Participants are exposed to examples illustrating how to strengthen platforms for water-related disaster risk reduction and coordination mechanisms through enhanced contribution of science and technology.


  • Guidelines are set for strengthening governance and investment based on platforms and coordination mechanisms through enhanced contribution of science and technology;
  • Ways are identified for reviewing the status and issues of ongoing water-related disaster risk reduction efforts based on scientific and technological knowledge and achieving consensus on the practical measures to be designed and implemented from a macro perspective;
  • Strengthened partnerships and enhanced investment in water-related disaster risk reduction.



18:30 to 19:00

Toward the 9th World Water Forum: Dakar 2021 [Room IV]

  • Mr Abdoulaye Sene - Chairman of the Preparatory Committee for the 9th World Water Forum
  • Mr Patrick Lavarde - Co-chair of the 9th World Water Forum

The recent innovations proposed by Senegal and the World Water Council for the organization of the 9th Forum seek to share learning as broadly as possible with water stakeholders. As a result, this session will present the orientations of the 9th World Water Forum, and gather stakeholders' points of view on their intention of specific mobilization.

Senegal and the World Water Council will co-organize, on behalf of Africa, the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar in 2021 under the main theme of "Water Security for Peace and Development".

After having received the torch during the 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia in March 2018, and having signed the framework agreement in June 2018 with the World Water Council, Senegal is resolutely engaged in the preparation of a renewed Forum with a new vision, a new approach and a new concept. The advocated approach aims to make Dakar 2021 a Forum of answers and a moment of demonstration of results.

The organization of this Forum, connected to global agendas, is of paramount importance for the African continent, considering the multiple challenges and major challenges related to the control of water, access to water and sanitation. Water is fundamental to our lives and livelihoods. We must safeguard it to avoid endangering our food security, our jobs, which are the bedrock of our economies, our health and the sustainable survival of our communities.

This is why the 9th World Forum will address the crucial issue of water security for all uses. Thus, the Dakar 2021 Forum aims to be a catalyst and an opportunity for the implementation of the global joint agenda for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals for the benefit of all.





09:00 to 09:45

Presentation of the Euro-Energy Interconnection [Room I]

  • Mr LI Jun - Deputy Director-General, Economic & Technology Research Institute of GEIDCO

The panel will explore and present initiatives and efforts to promote the clean energy development and power grid interconnection of Europe, with the goal of transforming them into information useful for decision-makers, practitioners and users, towards the sustainable development of Europe and beyond.

For decades, Europe has been at the forefront of mitigating the climate change and promoting the clean energy transition. As we look to the future, it is critical to ensure that sustainability considerations are hardwired into new infrastructure development, to significantly increase the share of clean energy in the energy mix and to ultimately replace fossil fuel power plants with greener alternatives.

Innovative technologies should also propel this transition. These include supporting cleaner energy generation, more efficient power transmission, and growing regional energy interconnection. All hold great promise for a more sustainable future. However, their deployment must be accompanied with greater stakeholder consultation to more effectively overcome research, financial and regulatory barriers.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change provides a broader framework within which European countries’ energy challenges and climate action measures must be taken. Energy Union does so by identifying opportunities to shape the cleaner energy development within the region. Pursued intelligently, it should also support the idea of Global Energy Interconnection: regional clean energy development and interconnection.

The session will present a study about Europe Energy Interconnection. It has identified the achievements and challenges in the development of energy and electric power sector in Europe and their trends. It was proposed an innovation scenario of the exploitation and layout of clean energy resources, cross-border power grid interconnection etc. In addition, a detailed analysis of the investment and comprehensive benefits is rendered.

The study intends to facilitate the sustainable socio-economic development of Europe continuing to lead global clean energy transition and global climate action. It is expected that all stockholders work together to turn the earth into a bright peaceful and harmonious global village of green lands and blue skies with sustainable energy for all.


  • Participants have a better understanding of the interlinkages between European Energy Interconnection and sustainable development of Europe in a variety of fields, such as exploitation of solar and wind resources, power grid interconnection, the transition of power demand side;
  • Participants are informed on how technologies are addressing challenges of clean development and interconnection;
  • Participants are provided with an opportunity to better understand the concepts of Global Energy Interconnection.


  • Strengthened partnerships and cooperation’s to advance clean development to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs;
  • Increased awareness to energy interconnection is a valuable solution to overcome the gap between the goal of mitigating climate change and nowadays situations.



Thematic panel

09:45 to 11:15, Room I

Water and Peace [Room I]

First discussion: Water as a tool for peace

  • Mr Xing Qu [Chair] - Deputy Director-General, UNESCO
  • H. R. H. Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan of Jordan - President, The Royal Scientific Society of Jordan
  • H. E. Mr Gaston Eloundou Essomba - Minister of Water and Energy, Cameroon
  • H. E. Mr Hesham Bakhit - Assistant Minister for Transboundary Water Affairs, Studies, Research and Development, Egypt
  • H. E. Mr Jamal Abbas Al-Adilee - Minister of Water Resources, Iraq
  • H. E. Mr Myung-rae Cho - Minister of Environment, Republic of Korea
  • H. E. Mr Luqmon Isomatov - Head of the Department for External Economic Cooperation, and representing the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tajikistan

Second discussion: Global challenges

  • Ms Shamila Nair-Bedouelle [Chair] - Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, UNESCO
  • H. E. Mr Emmanuel Norbert Tony Ondo Mba - President, AMCOW & Minister of Water, Gabon
  • H. E. Mr Khaled Al Fadhel - Minister of Water and Energy, Kuwait
  • Mr Hamed Diane Semaga - High-Commissioner, OMVS
  • Ms Carmen Marques Ruiz - Policy Coordinator Environment & Water, European External Action Service (EEAS)
  • Ms Martina Klimes - Advisor, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)

This panel will explore and discuss how water can be a contributing factor to sustainable peace and security, notably with the support of water resources management integrated approaches between different sectors.

Water resources are under increasing pressure, due to climate, demographic and socio-economic changes. Growing water demand and consumption can trigger conflict between sectors and users, as it involves multiple stakeholders with different views. The problem is even more complex in transboundary basins (whether rivers, lakes or aquifers) as they are shared by two or more states, causing decision making to be even more intricate.

Access and use of water can constitute a source of competition and tensions between water users, requiring conflict mitigation towards a positive evolution of the situation. A situation with undeniable potential for conflict can be transformed into a situation where a cooperation potential can emerge, and where water can transform in a tool to enable peace. To foster peace, cooperation and joint development of water resources, it is critical to facilitate multi-level and interdisciplinary dialogues between all stakeholders involved (e.g. government decision-makers and diplomats, water professionals and water managers, civil society networks, educators, and the scientific community, both natural sciences as well as Human and social sciences).

Since 2001, the UNESCO PCCP initiative (From potential conflict to cooperation potential) has been addressing situations where water users need support to manage their transboundary water resources in a peaceful and equitable manner. As it disseminates best practices and fosters cooperation between states by supporting and maintaining peace building processes, PCCP contributes to UNESCO's mandate: to nurture the idea of peace in human minds, through the use of diplomacy, sciences, and education.

Water management is inextricably linked to many socio-political, economic and cultural aspects, which shape users’ interactions and extend beyond the issue of the sharing of water quantities. For these reasons, it is critical to adopt a transdisciplinary and trans-sectoral comprehensive approach to fostering peaceful and equitable management of shared water resources. Such an approach should rely on a tool combining several indicators to better assess, visualize and understand complex cooperation processes, and respond accordingly to states’ needs.

In this regard, UNESCO and its water family (Centres, Chairs) are well positioned to support Member states in identifying sources of competing challenges to water management, and to assist in solving and/or preventing conflict over water in an integrated manner, building on education, sciences (both natural, and social and human), culture, communication and information.


  • Participants improved their understanding and have a better knowledge of existing experiences to turn potential conflict into cooperation potential for the management of water resources;
  • Participants are provided with examples of negotiation processes for the management of common water resources between different stakeholders;
  • Launch of a joint UNESCO-IHP initiative aiming at “Supporting peace through sustainable global water security” under which several ongoing programmes/projects of the UNESCO Water Family could be implemented.


  • Peace is supported through trans-sectoral cooperation and strengthened partnerships for global water security;
  • Cooperation activities are coordinated by this one-stop-shop initiative, which also disseminates best practices of water conflict resolution and cooperation building.


High-level Closing Ceremony

11:45 to 13:00, Room I

Ministerial Statements

Description coming soon

Closing Address

  • Mr Xing Qu - Deputy Director-General, UNESCO


Lunch and Side-events

13:00 to 15:00

Megacities Alliance for Water and Climate [14:00-15:00, Room IV]

The Megacities Alliance for Water and Climate (MAWaC) is an initiative that supports Megacities in sharing their experiences and challenges in managing their water related services and in proposing solutions that enable them to successfully overcome the challenges of climate change.

The MAWAC was born in December 2015 when UNESCO's International Hydrological Program (IHP) and its partners hosted the Water, Megacities and Global Change International Conference (EauMega 2015), during the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21), to draw attention to the significant challenges faced by Megacities and to propose a global alliance focusing on climate change and water security. In 2016, UNESCO IHP and ARCEAU-ldF published monographies on 15 Megacities depicting present and future challenges concerning their water services, and describing their climate change adaptation solutions.

As part of this international process, this side-event will be the opportunity to present the Alliance and discuss the progress of its work thus far and the proposed way forward, allowing the audience to find out more about the initiative and how they could get involved. This meeting is also meant to pave the way to a second International Water, Megacities and Global Change Conference (EauMega 2020), scheduled to take place from 29 June to 3 July 2020 at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris.




15:00 to 18:30

UNESCO Water Family [15:00-18:30, Room IV]

Description coming soon

Alliance of Alliances [Closed meeting - 15:00-16:00, Room VII]

Description coming soon