Ministerial Declaration of The Hague
Ministerial Declaration of The Hague on Water Security in the 21st Century
1. Water is vital for the life and health of people and ecosystems
and a basic requirement for the development of countries, but around
the world women, men and children lack access to adequate and safe
water to meet their most basic needs. Water resources, and the
related ecosystems that provide and sustain them, are under threat
from pollution, unsustainable use, land-use changes, climate change
and many other forces. The link between these threats and poverty is
clear, for it is the poor who are hit first and hardest. This leads
to one simple conclusion: business as usual is not an option. There
is, of course, a huge diversity of needs and situations around the
globe, but together we have one common goal: to provide water
security in the 21st Century. This means ensuring that freshwater,
coastal and related ecosystems are protected and improved; that
sustainable development and political stability are promoted, that
every person has access to enough safe water at an affordable cost to
lead a healthy and productive life and that the vulnerable are
protected from the risks of water-related hazards.
2. These threats are not new. Nor are attempts to address them.
Discussions and actions started in Mar del Plata in 1977, continued
through Dublin and were consolidated into Chapter 18 of Agenda 21 in
Rio in 1992. They were reaffirmed in Paris 1998, CSD-6 and in the
Second World Water Forum and Ministerial Conference. The process will
continue in the meeting in Bonn in 2002 ("Dublin+10"), through the
10-year review of implementation of Agenda 21, and beyond. These and
other international meetings have produced a number of agreements and
principles that are the basis upon which this and future statements
should be built. The goal of providing water security in the 21st
Century is reflected in the unprecedented process of broad
participation and discussion by experts, stakeholders and government
officials in many regions of the world. This process has profited
from the important contributions of the World Water Council, who
launched the World Water Vision process at the First World Water
Forum in Marrakech, from the formation of the World Commission on
Water in the 21st Century and from the development of the Framework
for Action by the Global Water Partnership.
The Main Challenges
3. To achieve water security, we face the following main challenges:
Meeting basic needs: to recognise that access to safe and sufficient
water and sanitation are basic human needs and are essential to
health and well-being, and to empower people, especially women,
through a participatory process of water management.
Securing the food supply: to enhance food security, particularly of
the poor and vulnerable, through the more efficient mobilisation and
use, and the more equitable allocation of water for food production.
Protecting ecosystems: to ensure the integrity of ecosystems through
sustainable water resources management.
Sharing water resources: to promote peaceful co-operation and develop
synergies between different uses of water at all levels, whenever
possible, within and, in the case of boundary and trans-boundary
water resources, between states concerned, through sustainable river
basin management or other appropriate approaches.
Managing risks: to provide security from floods, droughts, pollution
and other water-related hazards.
Valuing water: to manage water in a way that reflects its economic,
social, environmental and cultural values for all its uses, and to
move towards pricing water services to reflect the cost of their
provision. This approach should take account of the need for equity
and the basic needs of the poor and the vulnerable.
Governing water wisely: to ensure good governance, so that the
involvement of the public and the interests of all stakeholders are
included in the management of water resources.
Meeting the Challenges
4. We, the Ministers and Heads of Delegation, recognise that our
gathering and this Declaration are part of a wider process, and are
linked to a wide range of initiatives at all levels. We acknowledge
the pivotal role that governments play in realising actions to meet
the challenges. We recognise the need for institutional,
technological and financial innovations in order to move beyond
"business as usual" and we resolve to rise to meet these challenges.
5. The actions advocated here are based on integrated water
resources management, that includes the planning and management of
water resources, both conventional and non-conventional, and land.
This takes account of social, economic and environmental factors and
integrates surface water, groundwater and the ecosystems through
which they flow. It recognises the importance of water quality
issues. In this, special attention should be paid to the poor, to the
role, skills and needs of women and to vulnerable areas such as small
island states, landlocked countries and desertified areas.
6. Integrated water resources management depends on collaboration and
partnerships at all levels, from individual citizens to international
organisations, based on a political commitment to, and wider societal
awareness of, the need for water security and the sustainable
management of water resources. To achieve integrated water resources
management, there is a need for coherent national and, where
appropriate, regional and international policies to overcome
fragmentation, and for transparent and accountable institutions at
7. We will further advance the process of collaboration in order to
turn agreed principles into action, based on partnerships and
synergies among the government, citizens and other stakeholders. To
A. We will establish targets and strategies, as appropriate, to meet
the challenges of achieving water security. As part of this effort,
we support the development of indicators of progress at the national
and sub-national level. In carrying this forward, we will take
account of the valuable work done for the Second World Water Forum.
B. We will continue to support the UN system to re-assess
periodically the state of freshwater resources and related
ecosystems, to assist countries, where appropriate, to develop
systems to measure progress towards the realisation of targets and to
report in the biennial World Water Development Report as part of the
overall monitoring of Agenda 21.
C. We will work together with other stakeholders to develop a
stronger water culture through greater awareness and commitment. We
will identify best practices, based on enhanced research and
knowledge generation capacities, knowledge dissemination through
education and other channels and knowledge sharing between
individuals, institutions and societies at all appropriate levels.
This will include co-ordination at regional and other levels, as
appropriate, to promote arrangements for coping with water-related
disasters and for sharing experiences in water sector reform. It will
also include international co-operation in technology transfers to,
and capacity building in, developing countries.
D. We will work together with stakeholders to increase the
effectiveness of pollution control strategies based on polluter pays
principles and to consider appropriate rules and procedures in the
fields of liability and compensation for damage resulting from
activities dangerous to water resources.
E. Against the background of the preparatory work for and discussions
in The Hague, we will work within multilateral institutions,
particularly the UN system, International Financial Institutions and
bodies established by Inter-Governmental Treaties, to strengthen
water-related policies and programmes that enhance water security,
and to assist countries, as appropriate, to address the major
challenges identified in this Declaration.
F. We call upon the Secretary General of the United Nations to
further strengthen the co-ordination and coherence of activities on
water issues within the UN system. We will adopt consistent positions
in the respective governing bodies to enhance coherence in these
G. We call upon the Council of the Global Environmental Facility
(GEF) to expand activities that are within the mandate of the GEF in
relation to freshwater resources by catalysing investments in
national water management issues that have a beneficial impact on
H. We welcome the contribution of the World Water Council in relation
to the Vision and of the Global Water Partnership with respect to the
development of the Framework for Action. We welcome follow-up actions
by all relevant actors in an open, participatory and transparent
manner that draws upon all major groups in society.
I. We note the statements (attached to this declaration) made by the
representatives of the major groups and welcome them as a clear
reflection of their readiness to work with us towards a secure water
future for all.
8. Recognising that the actions referred to in paragraph 7, including
progress on targets and strategies, are important and ambitious, we
will review our progress periodically at appropriate fora, including
the meeting in Bonn in 2002 and the 10-year review of the
implementation of Agenda 21.
9. The Ministerial Conference acknowledges with appreciation that a
range of issues were discussed during the Second World Water Forum,
and that the Chair of the Forum presented these issues to the
Ministerial Conference. The importance of these issues is
unquestionable; we will raise them for further consideration in
relevant fora in the future and will consider their implications for
our individual national situations.
10. The challenges are formidable, but so are the opportunities.
There are many experiences around the world that can be built on.
What is needed is for us all to work together, to develop
collaboration and partnerships, to build a secure and sustainable
water future. We will, individually and acting together, strive to
achieve this and stimulate and facilitate the contributions of
society as a whole. To this end, we note with appreciation that
pledges were made at The Hague (attached to our declaration). This
Declaration reflects the determination of our governments and
represents a critical step in the process of providing water security
11. We, the Ministers and Heads of Delegation, thank the government
and people of The Netherlands for their vision and for their
hospitality in hosting this conference and forum.
Agreed to on Wednesday 22 March, 2000,
In The Hague, The Netherlands