History

Founded in 1996, the World Water Council has become an influential leader, working to position water at the top of the global political agenda.

1977 - The Mar del Plata United Nations Conference on Water was the first and only intergovernmental conference devoted exclusively to water - a milestone in the history of water development.

1980 - It led the UN General Assembly to proclaim the Declaration of the International Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade.

1992 - The idea of forming a world water council was first proposed in 1992 at the UN's International Conference on Environment and Development in Dublin and at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit.

1994 - The International Water Resources Association (IWRA) organised a special session on the topic in its Eighth World Water Congress held in Cairo in November 1994, which resulted in a resolution to create the World Water Council and a committee to accomplish the preparatory work for this task. Consensus was established around the need for the creation of a common umbrella organisation to unite the disparate, fragmented, and ineffectual efforts in global water management.

1995 - The Founding Committee of the World Water Council was formed and convened its first meeting in Montreal, Canada, in March 1995, and again in Bari, Italy, in September, 1995. These two meetings defined the mission and objectives of the World Water Council.

June 1996 - The World Water Council was legally incorporated and its headquarters established in Marseille, France.

July 1996 - The First Interim Board of Governors met in Grenada, Spain.

March 1997 - The success of the 1st World Water Forum in Marrakech, Morocco, and the issuing of the Marrakech Declaration firmly established the leadership of the Council in water affairs.The World Water Council received the mandate to develop the World Water Vision for Life and Environment for the 21st Century.

September 1997 - The First Meeting of the General Assembly of members of the World Water Council was held in Montreal, during the Ninth World Water Congress of the IWRA. The Constitution of the Council was approved and the members of the first Board of Governors were elected.

March 1998 - The World Water Council, in cooperation with the Government of France, participated in organising the International Conference on Water and Sustainable Development in Paris.

March 2000 - The 2nd World Water Forum, was successfully held in The Netherlands. The results of the Vision were presented to some 5,700 participants from all parts of the world. The Ministerial Conference gathered 120 Ministers and resulted in the Declaration of The Hague on Water Security in the 21st Century. 

2000 – With the Millennium Summit of the United Nations, this year saw the advent of the Millennium Development Goals, with the water and sanitation target housed under Goal 7 on environmental sustainability.

March 2003 - The 3rd World Water Forum took place in Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka, Japan. Following up on its commitments from the 2nd Forum, the WWC launched the World Water Actions report, an inventory of over 3,000 local water actions. This Forum was the largest water conference yet, gathering 24,000 participants. A Ministerial Conference was held in parallel and brought together 130 Ministers. Participants made hundreds of commitments to action, and each session organiser was asked to state what concrete output would follow his or her respective session.

March 2006 - The 4th World Water Forum was held in Mexico City, gathering some 20,000 people from throughout the world who participated in 206 working sessions, under the theme "Local actions for a global challenge."

March 2009 - Over 30,000 participants from 182 countries took part in the 5th World Water Forum, in Istanbul, Turkey. More than 400 organisations prepared together over 100 sessions organised according to 6 themes, 7 regional reports and 5 high-level panels, in line with the precept of “Bridging Divides for Water.” This edition saw for the first time a Heads of State meeting followed by a Ministerial Statement. Local and Regional Authorities in attendance produced the Istanbul Water Consensus (IWC).

2010 – The United Nations General Assembly (Resolution A/RES/64/292, July 2010) and the Human Rights Council (Resolution A/HRC/15/L.14, September 2010) recognised the right to access drinking water and sanitation as a human right on the same footing as other social rights such as the right to food and the right to health.

March 2012 - The 6th World Water Forum in Marseille gathered representatives from over 173 countries, including 15 Heads of States or Governments and European Commissioners, 112 Ministers, Vice-Ministers and Secretaries of State. Under the theme “Time for Solutions”, a Village of Solutions showcased concrete actions collected from all around the world, also visible on the interactive platform solutionsforwater.org.

June 2012 - On the occasion of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, water played a prominent role in the discussions, including during the Heads of State Summit, where the WWC spoke as a civil society rapporteur from the Sustainable Development Dialogue on water, which it led.

October 2013 – The Budapest Water Summit, co-organized by the World Water Council, contributed to the formulation of the water-related Sustainable Development Goals, providing concrete guidance on the most pressing water issues. The Council continued to advocate for a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on water throughout 2014 and 2015.

April 2015 – The 7th World Water Forum, held in Daegu-Gyeongbuk, Republic of Korea, was heralded as the Forum with the greatest political attendance. Over 40,000 visitors from 168 countries, including 10 world leaders, 80 government ministers and 121 official national government delegations engaged in dialogue and debate, putting water at the heart of our future. Special focus was given to science and technology within the program. The key deliverables of the Forum included sixteen ambitious Implementation Roadmaps, which were developed to guide and track collective action for water in the years to come. 

September 2015 - United Nations member states adopted the new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to tackle poverty, reduce inequalities, and guide development actions in a sustainable way for all people in all countries over the course of the next 15 years. Continuing on from the Millennium Development Goals, this 2030 sustainable development agenda includes a dedicated goal for water and sanitation (Goal 6).

October 2015 – The World Water Council became the founding partner of the Financial Times Water Summit.

December 2015 - Water made its way to the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris. Through the #ClimateIsWater initiative, the World Water Council coordinated the actions of the international water community so as to elevate recognition for water and climate at the political level.