Water allocation, water reuse and water cooperation, were the main topics during a UN organized consultation on new post-2015 water targets in Geneva, Switzerland, on February 27 and 28.

Water experts from all over the world discussed in Geneva a political message for the high level meeting in The Hague during the international celebration of World Water Day on March 22..

The consultation made clear that water demand will not only increase because more people will consume more water. Also the production of more food and energy will demand more water. These issues are interrelated in the water-food-energy-nexus and cross sectoral cooperation is needed to come to a fair system for sharing water resources.

Public dialogue
During the consultation the participants reflected on the reactions that have been received by the UN website 'The World We Want 2015.

This website started a public dialogue in January on new global post-2015 targets when the current millennium development goals expires.

Input from the public dialogue will be part of the high level platform meeting in The Hague on March 22 and the general assembly in September in New York.

Water allocation
In Geneva the participants in the consultation expressed their concern over the fact that within the food and energy sector there is little awareness of how critical the water supply may become in the future.

Without large investments in water infrastructure many fresh water resources will either become useless because of pollution or eventually dry up because of over-extraction. The participants identified a water allocation target as: ensuring transparent, equitable and sustainable mechanisms at the basin, national and transboundary level in order to create a balance among human, food, energy, domestic, industrial and ecosystem needs.

Joppe Cramwinckel (above), director for water of the World Business Council for sustainable development (WBCSD) asked the participants to focus on a fair water allocation system and mentioned the hotly debate issue of water prizing.

Water reuse
National governments should be stimulated to introduce a regulatory framework to stop the discharge of waste water, said President Gérard Payen of the international federation of private water operators AquaFed. He said still 80% of all waste water is not treated. This is especially the case in non-developed countries where water borne diseases spread rapidly.

Various speakers pointed out that a regulatory framework is also needed to stimulate the reuse of water. Some speakers pointed out that next to strict water quality standards and enforcement, there is a great demand for skilled water technicians. Their skills are needed locally to ensure that the treatment of waste water is done properly and quality of the reuse water meets the standards.

Water cooperation
Many speakers addressed the necessary cooperation. Not only between the various authorities on local, regional and national levels, but also with all stakeholders involved in preservation of fresh water resources. The water demand will increase and in many areas water stress will arise. Only in dialogue farmers, nature organisations, energy suppliers, water supply companies, cities

Catchy slogan
At the end of the consultation the participants suggested to formulate a target on improved water-use efficiency by XX % by XX year with two additional sub-targets : increase of water reuse by XX % by XX year; and to reduce water use in agriculture by XX % by XX year.

For the politicians at the high level platform in The Hague, Jack Moss of AquaFed came up with a more catchy slogan: use less water, use water better and use water again.

Finally Maarten Gischler (above), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands, got applause when he announced that the Dutch government will support a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on water. He noted that his government aims to elevate water to the highest possible political level

The outcome of this consultation and a recommendation to the high level platform in The Hague on March 22 will be published shortly.

Report and more background information on the consultation and the themes were published on the website of UN Economic Commission for Europe and International Institute for Sustainable Development.

More information on this year's water cooperation theme and the international celebration of World Water Day in The Hague (including the high level platform meeting, the multi-stakeholder dialogue Wings for water and the Walk for water fundraising):
- International year of Water Cooperation and World Water Day - The Hague, March 22
- Multi-stakeholder dialogue - The Hague, March 21

Follow this website for more news on the international celebration of World Water Day 2013 in The Hague.

More information
UN Water
New York, USA