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Dialogue Session at the 8th Informal Ministerial Meeting – Bergen

Access to Water for Basic Needs

This is a UNED FORUM summary of stakeholder background papers, created for the preparatory process only. Please read in conjunction with the full papers submitted by the stakeholder groups. 


Local Government

Trade Unions


NGOs & Women

Water Services should contribute to economic, social and human development of people – not just technical perfection or cost efficiency.

Action requires a bottom-up approach, multi-stakeholder partnerships, integrated water resources & services planning

Emphasis on Workplace assessments to improve water uses in production and personal consumption of workers.

Focus on social and employment assessments to tackle poverty and prepare for multistakeholder transition planning.  

 Goal is water security where every person has enough affordable clean water and ecosystems are protected or enhanced.

Investment is identified as the most direct route.

Conditions of access must be acceptable and affordable to local people and conform to environmental objectives

Water has a particularly strong gender dimension

Integrated global resource allocation means poorer countries and communities have most difficulty establishing a claim to water

Water– poverty nexus fundamental

Water-energy  & Poverty-Employment as RIO+10 nexus themes

Water-poverty nexus is a priority

Water – poverty nexus fundamental (Rio + 10)


Local Government

Trade Unions

Business & Industry

NGOs and Women

Top- down privatisation ® problems of equity, governance and security.





Private sector investment requires strong, efficient, transparent government, sound economic framework, independent  regulatory regime and an orderly stable society.

Risk management needs addressing.

Top-down imposition of privatised water services is unacceptable. Must always critically assess local needs and situation first.

Understand and support the existing informal private sector.

Regulatory control of private sector is essential.

Regulations to be developed through participatory, transparent, gender balanced mechanisms.

Focus on making better use of available resources.


Rehabilitate existing structures rather than new investments and use cost-saving technologies.

Financial inflows must respect national sustainable development strategies.


Centralised ‘western’ model of water supply and sanitation are costly to maintain. Instead priority should be to employ a wider selection of technologies and locally affordable approaches.




Investment priorities are: -

Distribution systems.

Efficient irrigation services.

Clean up of contaminated waters.

Protect surface waters.

Priority is to deliver water and sanitation services to poor and landless

Focus must re-orientate to micro-scale projects and local level of management



Full cost recovery supported, but must be both collective and individual and structured to allow basic needs to be met.

Waste and pollution must bear an economic cost

A social tariff policy to promote access to water services and finance investment and operating costs

Gradual and transparent transition to full cost recovery for all countries by 2015 and structured to protect the poor

Full cost pricing to improve efficiency, provide resources to reinvest, encourage demand management and promote pollution control and prevention

Greater water efficiency might be achieved by full cost recovery but the price must relate to nature of consumption and be structured to protect the poor

Bear costs collectively

Full cost transparency, classification of water price and to account for environmental costs

Socio-economic implications of full cost recovery must be debated in public

Locally experience impact of demand management tools need to be assessed

Flexible funding arrangements which encourage community involvement


Supports participatory approach as a principle for investment

Defining and monitoring use of financial resources must be participatory

Emphasis on transparency, democratic and gender balanced mechanisms

Donors must invest in appropriate technologies for long-term sustainability (e.g. solar pumps, rainwater harvesting).


Donors should assist countries with IWRM strategy

Donors must make access to water a development priority




Debt cancellation necessary to release funds. Governments must honour existing agreements (e.g. 20/20 initiative)



Governments should facilitate access to credit and encourage micro-credit development for investment at the community level


Private profits should be limited due to monopolistic and social aspect of service.

Understand financial flows and introduce financial instruments to support transition




Local Government

Trade Unions



Accountability and transparency must be guaranteed by a public authority or recognised indigenous authority.

Regulations must define and protect socio-cultural and ecological values.

Whether under private or public control, water must always retain the character of a public service.

Public authorities must maintain accountability for water services and management.

Regulatory frameworks and dispute settlement procedures that encourage good governance will thereby promote private sector activity.

Private control of water must be regulated.


Regulations must be developed in a participatory, gender balanced, transparent way

Participatory management is key.

Participation requires full information,

Civic rights and new institutional mechanisms

Involve workers in monitoring and reporting of workplace activities and in implementation.

Stakeholder engagement at all levels.

International Water Code as means of establishing consensus on water



Cooperation and participation are key

Review local points of entry for participatory decision-making

Participation should be iterative

Participation requires full, free and equal access to information and decision making

A legislative framework for river basin management could formalise civil society participation.


Need to demonstrate to workers that the transition to sustainable development will improve their socio-economic security.

Improve awareness of the value of water resources and their use for sustainable development.



Access to water is a fundamental human right


Access to water is a fundamental human right

Local capacity building for local authorities and communities

Local decision- making and control


Local capacity building



Where water is scarce, government to formalise and clarify property rights for water

Need for more equitable systems of land tenure to guarantee for local access, particularly for women.


Need for high level political commitment to respond to locally developed needs and priorities


Need for high level political commitment to respond to locally developed needs and priorities



Formulate and implement sub-national and national and regional IWRM strategies

Continue with Agenda 21 recommendations for each country to adopt a national water policy

National governments must develop a clear strategy to guide selection of water related projects

Institutional reform to reflect crosscutting nature of water from the social, to economic to technical.




Institutions must be accessible by local agents; working together with local agents to define consumption patterns




Capacity building needs time, resources, support and skilled facilitators

Make transition plans for change




Use workplace and TU capacity to educate for public awareness. Engage with workers to change workplace production and personal consumption.

Use public health and sanitation links with Occuppational health structures and springboards to workplace action




Improve coordinatation of policy making by global institutions.


Coordinate national and international policies and take water impacts into account.


Establish a standing committee of ILO to deal with water (alongside electricity & gas)






Infrastructure development is critical for inclusion/exclusion and ensuring equitable allocation.


Local Government

Trade Unions



Demand Management, including efficiency and conservation is key.

Use local economic instruments (tariffs, charges) to transform water users into economic actors.

Joint worker/trade union Workplace Assessments of water uses in the production of goods and services.

Assess water used in production or delivery of materials, labour and resources to workplace.

Assess workers personal and domestic uses of water as they relate to performing their work.








Use local economic instruments (tariffs, charges) to transform water users into economic actors

Service providers must unlock water needs and demand at local level.

Socio-economic impacts of demand management tools need to be assessed.

Community managed programmes often best at defining and meeting own needs.

Urgent political will to address demand management of aquifers used in food production.

Allocation decided on basis of watershed boundaries.

Watershed plans can be nested within one another to achieve a complementary management schemes for large systems.



Inter-sectoral allocation must prioritise access to water for basic needs, over broader economic interests.

Food production leading to groundwater depletion needs urgent political will to address problem.

Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) – coordinated land and water planning to maximise social and economic welfare equitably without compromising ecosystems.


Develop national and sub-national IWRM strategies.

Supports the IWRM initiatives taken by the Global Water Partnership

Primary goal of river basin management and restoration is to enable rivers and watersheds perform ecological functions and benefit those who rely on them for basic needs.

Integrate IWRM into National Strategies for Sustainable Development.

Supply management is important in coming years of water stress and climate change.







Recognition that human activities cause many of the worlds floods and droughts affecting water supplies




Indicators are useful to monitor progress – must be sensitive to gender, ethnicity and place of residence.




Review locally experienced water impacts of global production and consumption patterns.




Prior impact assessments of water resource management projects or large-scale economic development on river basin. Credit Export Agencies in particular


Local Government

Trade Unions


NGOs & Women

Emphasis on appropriate, small scale technologies


Capacity building to supply technical skills, goods and services and a trainable workforce.

Learn from local experiences and scale up successful micro-projects based on traditional and new technologies.


Measure innovation and technology transfer against social and employment indicators


De-materialisation and use efficiency.




Public policy must adopt technologies that assist poor people access water for basic needs.




Foster local competition to deliver low cost technologies to farmer or for community water supply and sanitation.




Simple soil and water conservation practices work. Including afforestation.


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Local Government

Trade Unions


NGOs & Women