The Istanbul Water Consensus Pact, historical recognition of local and regional authorities

22 March 2012

The signatories of the Istanbul Consensus demonstrate their commitment. (Photo : 6th World Water Forum/ Christophe Taamourte)

At the end of the historical local and regional authoritiy political process, the Istanbul Pact reached 1070 signatories. In a time of global changes, local mayors and leaders bring concrete solutions to the water problem.

On Thursday 15 March, the local and regional authority process came to a close. The co-president of the process and mayor of Bourges, Serge Lepeltier, was clear, stating, “The countries where water management is strongest are those with a strong degree of decentralisation; the local and regional authorities play a central role.” These entities actively participated in this 6th World Water Forum, obtaining historical recognition, according to Loïc Fauchon, president of the World Water Council.

Communities, in fact, hold solutions. The community of Bourges Plus has piloted a programme aimed at improving water quality by promoting more reasonable agricultural production. In Rabat, Morocco, carp are used to stabilise water supply quality while creating a new local economic activity. In Osaka, Japan, wastewater is used to produce energy and at the same time reduce greenhouse emissions. Intelligent solutions should be exchanged through a co-operative decentralised process on “equal footing,” underlines Michel Delebarre, President of United Cities.

Mobilising actors toward global changes

The Forum is an opportunity to accentuate the mobilisation of sustainable local level water governance. Many communities have signed the Istanbul Pact for water, increasing the number of signatories to over 1070. The document reaffirms the need for local public control of water as a public good and calls for urgency adapting to climate change and urbanisation. Mayor of Banforo, Burkina Faso, Souleymane Soulama testifies that, “over the last 20 years, the wet season has shortened by two months and the flow of our rivers has collapsed.”

Water, urbanisation, and climate changes are all cross-cutting challenges that rest at the heart of sustainable development. In Marseille, local authorities have increased their mobilisation and have become recognised as principal actors. For Mercedes Bresso, President of EU Committee of the Regions, “we should be inspired by the Forum process on the way to Rio +20.”

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