Insight.May 31, 2024

Reflections from World Water Forum

The 10th World Water Forum took place from 18 to 25 May 2024. SIWI experts were on site sharing their expertise and galvanizing action. Here are their reflections.

Jakob Schabus
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Jakob Schabus
Communications Manager,

On 25 May, the 10th World Water Forum concluded in Bali. Taking place every three years, this year’s iteration was on the theme of Water for Shared Prosperity. SIWI’s mission at the World Water Forum revolved around promoting water cooperation and source-to-sea action, co-leading the water governance theme, and exploring ways forward for the Water Action Agenda (WAA).  

Implementing the Water Action Agenda  

The Water Action Agenda constitutes the main outcome of the historic United Nations 2023 Water Conference and consists of over 800 commitments. To discuss how to continue to make meaningful progress on the WAA, SIWI co-organized a High-Level Panel in partnership with the Governments of The Netherlands, Tajikistan, and Indonesia, which brought together, amongst others, seven ministers. “It was a way to jumpstart these conversations about collective action again a year after the UN Conference,” says Dani Gaillard-Picher, International Policy Advisor at SIWI. 

Reflecting on discussions around the outcomes of the UN 2023 Water Conference, she sees both hope and reason for concern: It’s true that some things are happening too slowly. For example, no one knows when or if the UN Special Envoy on Water will be named. But the WAA has enormous potential, and we all have the agency to make it real and create action in our own spheres of influence.” The next UN Conference on Water will take place in 2026 and is expected to be co-chaired by Senegal and the United Arab Emirates, whose ministers both participated in the event. For Gaillard-Picher, “this panel was a manifestation of cooperation in action that provides hope.”  

For greater impact across global processes, consistency and continuity are important ingredients. This thinking has been deeply engrained into the work of SIWI’s international policy team:We have aligned our own work so that these processes can build on each other over time.

“We need to make sure that what comes out of the World Water Forum will be followed up not only at the next Forum in three years' time in Saudi Arabia, but also in Dushanbe, at World Water Week, at the One Water Summit, through to the 2026 UN Water Conference and beyond, so that our message is echoed clearly and repeatedly and lands squarely in the ears of decision makers at the highest levels.”

Dani Gaillard-Picher, International Policy Advisor, SIWI

Enhancing cooperation  

Cooperation was another key pillar of SIWI’s engagement at the World Water Forum. Acting Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Håkan Tropp, observed fragmentation of water institutions at multiple levels as an emerging theme from the conference.  

As part of his conference engagement, Tropp promoted pathways that can help overcome dispersed and siloed institutional approaches. Amongst other things, he presented the initial findings of a forthcoming landmark report on water cooperation, an initiative led by the International Centre for Water Cooperation (ICWC), which is hosted by SIWI. 

In a preparatory event for the UN 2026 Water Conference, Tropp pointed among other things to the need to improve the fragmented institutional governance system by creating a clear water “anchor point” within the United Nations system. During the conference, Tropp further signed, on behalf of SIWI, a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indonesia Water Institute. 

Promoting a holistic approach 

The World Water Forum presented a special opportunity for SIWI to raise the importance of source-to-sea management on the international agenda.

“I was inspired by the rich discussions at the World Water Forum, in particular, how they demonstrated the connecting force of water across issues and geographies.”

Ruth Mathews, Senior Manager, Coordinator, Action Platform for Source-to-Sea Management (S2S Platform), SIWI

Ruth Mathews, Senior Manager at SIWI and Coordinator of the Action Platform for Source-to-Sea Management (S2S Platform), explains: “I was inspired by the rich discussions at the World Water Forum, in particular, how they demonstrated the connecting force of water across issues and geographies.” 

Mathews adds: “Water is at the centre of sustainable development, and source-to-sea management creates opportunities to address the blue economy, transboundary cooperation, pollution, urban resilience, climate mitigation and adaptation, and biodiversity conservation through coherent governance and holistic initiatives that benefit the source-to-sea system as a whole.” 

SIWI and the S2S Platform engaged at the World Water Forum not only to link the issues above, but also to introduce the new Platform Chair, Tom Panella.

The conference brought positive prospects: “We were very pleased to see the incorporation of source-to-sea in many events,” says Mathews. A particular conference highlight for her was the announcement during the concluding synthesis session of the S2S Platform’s commitment that its more than 50 partners will accelerate the adoption of source-to-sea management on six continents through capacity development and joint projects.  

Conference.18 May - 25 May 2024 , 0:00

SIWI at the World Water Forum

  • Water governance
  • Water cooperation
    • Source-to-Sea
    • Transboundary Water Cooperation

The 10th World Water Forum is taking place from 18 – 25 May in Bali. SIWI experts will be on site, inspiring ...

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Indonesian pagods reflecting on water with mountains in the background