Thanks to the visual representation of all water flows in an integrated diagram and the strong breakdown to the essential information, challenges on the one hand, but opportunities on the other hand, can also be identified. The WFD thus offers a scientifically sound but at the same time practical tool that decision-makers can use to quickly analyse a water system and make possible adjustments. Furthermore, the approach is not only a visualisation tool but also a communication instrument between science, practice and politics. As all stakeholders are on the same footing, the WFD facilitates and promotes discussions in the water management sector. In addition, cities become more comparable with each other, as various practical examples show.
Two case studies in the cities of Rio Pardo de Minas in Brazil and Bern in Switzerland
The WFD has already been used in several practical examples. These include both fairly small cities such as Rio Pardo de Minas in Brazil and larger cities such as Bern in Switzerland. By testing the tool through such case studies, the researchers have evaluated how the approach brings added value and, in particular, gathered feedback to make improvements. With the help of these findings, the methodology could be standardised in 2022 so that more cities agreed to implement the WFD. The next phase is to promote the acceptance of the approach among a broad public and a wide variety of municipalities. International events such as the UN Water Conference are particularly suitable for this. These are important platforms for positioning and dissemination of new approaches in the field of water management.
From the UN Water Conference to the 2030 Water Action Plan
After almost 50 years, the UN Water Conference will be taking place again this year. It includes the main program and side events. The first will consist of five interactive dialogues. One of these interactive dialogues “Water for Cooperation: cross-border and international water cooperation”, will be chaired by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis, representing Switzerland, together with Senegal. The summit will additionally be complemented by a series of side events. One of the main goals of the conference is to adopt a 2030 Water Action Plan. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, also underlined this in a statement: “A sensible water action plan must emerge from the UN 2023 Water Conference in March that gives our world’s elixir of life the commitment it deserves.” Eawag and its partners are making a contribution in this context. The institute has published a commitment to the 2030 Water Action Plan, which describes the relevance of acting in partnership in urban water management. “In this way, we want to show that it makes sense for players from science, politics and practice to join forces and commit to measures in water management. This is the only way we can solve water problems,” explains Dorothee Spuhler for the Department of Sanitation, Water and Solid Waste for Development
At a side event at Columbia University, the joint commitment will be presented and explained how this can be implemented. The researchers use projects to show how new approaches and tools can be put into practice in cooperation with aid organisations. Among other things, the WFD will be presented for this purpose. They will look at the example of Rio Pardo de Minas already mentioned and another example in Dakar. It is their intention to show how, with the help of the WFD, all stakeholders involved (government, population and industry) can strengthen water security in a participatory process. “We are thus making an important contribution with regard to the 2030 Water Action Plan and Sustainable Development Goal 6 – clean water and sanitation facilities,” says Dorothee Spuhler. She wants to use the conference in New York to exchange views with politicians and players from the water sector. “We hope to motivate them to use our tool and make improvements in their community or country with its help,” Spuhler continues.