Opening remarks by the Prince of Orange

Stockholm, Sweden, 15 August 2007

at the meeting of Global Water Partnership.

Incorporating Water Management in National Development Planning

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have come a long way.

The importance of Integrated Water Resources Management is now widely recognised. There is a broad consensus that IWRM is the key to sustainable water management. Today, around the world, national IWRM planning processes are identifying essential steps to improve water resources management. The resulting plans have to strike a balance between sustainability and a country's need for social and economic development - often including the need to meet the MDGs.

As Patron of the Global Water Partnership, I am of course happy that IWRM is being put into practice in so many places. But we cannot rest on our laurels. We need to ask: are good plans enough to ensure effective action? Is this planning process, important though it is, enough to create the necessary political will, ensure the funding needed and guarantee involvement of all the appropriate ministries?

Recent floods on many continents and in many countries (such as China, India, Pakistan, Britain, Bulgaria, Greece and now this week Korea and Germany to name but a few) and elsewhere remind us that we still face many problems in the field of water management in practice. Let's be clear about it: water management problems are not limited to developing countries. We all remember Katrina.

This means that water management still demands our close attention. We are all very aware that in many countries, there is no shortage of plans or analysis. What is lacking is practical implementation in the field: translation into action.

We need to study carefully those cases where countries have been able to move from theory to practice and plans have been successfully carried out. In the past few months I have met with the management of the World Bank and the three major regional development banks. They want to invest in water infrastructure. They are convinced of the importance of these investments to both sustainability and economic and social development. Yet they face the reality that requests for water financing have not increased and loan levels are more or less flat.

Finance and planning ministries are inevitably more concerned with agricultural progress, growth of tourism, energy needs and urbanisation than with abstract concepts of optimal water management. Success occurs where water sector professionals are able to move from a focus on ideal water management concepts into the real world of overlapping sectoral problems.

What are the problems between the needs of the industrial sector and the needs for clean drinking water? How can agriculture grow in areas with a shortage of water?

Will tourism grow or will agriculture be privileged in water-short regions? Clearly these discussions need to get going on the real issues in specific sectors.

If we can link water management to specific national development goals, this will also reduce the gap between the planning and implementation phases.

Next year will be the International Year of Sanitation.

It will give water sector professionals an excellent opportunity to work with town planners on urban water use regulations and agricultural water re-use issues, and to have major, joint campaigns on sewage pollution in rivers and lakes. I know that work is under way in Eastern Europe on appropriate rural sanitation technology. I urge you all to take advantage of this International Year of Sanitation.

Realistically, in regions where surface water and groundwater are shared between countries, transboundary issues have to be properly addressed.

It is a lot to ask of incipient national planning and IWRM implementation that they address transboundary issues as well. But we do know that it is essential.

Competition for water is increasing with population growth, climate change and pollution of usable supplies. So policymakers in other sectors should be taking an active interest in how water decisions are made and how their own decision-making is affecting their countries' water resources. It is part of our task to bring them to the table. We have to do that by talking about their agendas, not by trying to make them listen to ours.

GWP is proud of its role in getting the appropriate people around the right tables to discuss water issues. By making sure that water development is an integral part of sectoral plans, we are strengthening the credibility of the people and organisations involved. Above all, we are producing tangible results.
Currently there is a significant gap between water needs and most countries' ability to fulfil those needs. We need better management and new water infrastructure: pipelines, boreholes, sewer systems, irrigation systems, treatment plants, hydropower plants and storage facilities. For most countries this means overcoming a significant funding gap, by either finding more money or stretching the money they have further.

The focus of our seminar today will be on sharing the experiences of countries that have made good progress in IWRM and successfully mainstreamed water into national development strategies and plans.

It will examine three countries. Two of these, Mali and Zambia, have donor support in preparing their IWRM plan and one, Brazil, has undertaken this work as part of national development planning. In both cases a link has been made between water management and the national development framework.

I look forward to hearing what lessons can be learned from these case studies. IWRM has come a long way, but we are not yet near the end of the road.

Let's try to move forward today!