The chairman of the Executive Council reports on attendance at the World Water Day international celebration (The Hague, 22 March 2013)

The chairman of the Executive Council took advantage of his presence in The Hague on un-related business to attend the international celebration of World Water Day 2013 on Water Cooperation, hosted by the Government of The Netherlands, UNESCO and UN-Water. The theme for this year’s WWD echoed the theme of the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation, whose scope spans transboundary rivers, lakes and aquifers, as well as domestic rivers, lakes and aquifers across jurisdictional lines, across lines of administrative responsibility, and across water users’ groupings and sectors.

The official speeches delivered by the high-profile invitees were invariably pitched at a high level of generality, however occasional references were made to the legal dimension of water cooperation among States regarding transboundary water resources, and to the right to water. Four thematic breakout sessions were intended to provide an opportunity for engagement with the public in attendance. The reporter joined the thematic group which addressed water cooperation as an agent of peace, however the wide heterogeneity of the group, coupled with severe time constraints for discussion, prevented serious consideration of the theme. The latter part of the WWD was given over to a High-level Forum of high-profile panellists, who offered their perspective on aspects of the water cooperation agenda. A few of them were finally tasked with championing the main messages from “The World We Want” Global Thematic Consultation on Water to the United Nations High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The messages are pitched at a high level of generality, however the sustainable and integrated governance of underground and surface waters to satisfy human needs while respecting ecosystem requirements is singled out as a discrete inspirational goal.