World Water Council and members mobilized in making water fundamental tool in fight against COVID-19
The international network of renown organizations, the World Water Council, held a virtual meeting with its governors on 17 June 2020. The meeting addressed emerging issues within the water community due to the spread of COVID-19. Despite the fourteen time zones separating the 40 participants, the Governors all recognized the change occurred by COVID-19 on the collective awareness on the link between water and human health.
“As representatives of the water community, it is our shared duty, to mobilize our expertise and provide collective responses to mitigate the effects of these [looming] crises." These were the words of the President of the World Water Council, Loïc Fauchon, during his opening address, as he presented the latest activities conducted by the Council.
Participants reflected on three thematic topics which will guide their work and contribute to the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar, in March 2021, a major international political event, where political decision-makers will be able to lead concrete action for water.
The importance of sanitation in the fight against COVID-19
Access to water and sanitation are recognized as essential means of ensuring basic hygiene to protect populations from viral infections. But can wastewater also help control the spread of COVID-19? A joint research programme conducted by the Turkish Water Institute on early detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater and sewage treatment plants in Turkey is studying the possibility. The subject is currently being assessed and would allow to combine monitoring systems and forecast the eventuality of a second wave.
No action without funding
The Vice-President of CAF-Latin American Development Bank, Julian Suarez, outlined the consequent challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in financing access to water and sanitation across Latin America. In addition to developing innovative solutions through blended finance, CAF is also studying ways to implement short and medium-term measures for its member countries. These responses aimed at the most affected countries allow, among other things, rapid provision of liquidity or management tools for basic services.
Water and biodiversity: a fundamental link
For decades, priority was given to the subject of water for people, but this relationship has evolved, and the Governors of the World Water Council called for greater awareness of the role of water for nature. The Director General of the International Office for Water, Eric Tardieu, invited participants to examine the relationship between water security and ecological security to re-establish a virtuous circle to serve biodiversity. This topic will be prominent at the IUCN International Congress for Nature to be held in January 2021 in Marseille, which is an important step in the preparation of the 9th World Water Forum.
In the coming months, all these subjects will feed into the World Water Council's work, the results of which will be presented at the 9th World Water Forum. Paulo Salles, member of the International Steering Committee of the 9th Forum, reported on the most recent progress in the preparatory process of the Forum.