On Thursday, March 22, 2012, people around the world celebrated World Water Day. The importance of water is felt in the tiniest towns to the largest governments, a universal issue that both divides and unites people. International coalitions have been formed to address water security, water usage in agriculture, access to clean safe water, and all manner of related issues. Extreme water-related events such as floods, droughts and tsunamis are hitting countries around the world, causing massive destruction. As Secretary Clinton said in her recent World Water Day speech, “No country anywhere, no matter how developed, is immune to the challenges we face.”
The Global Water Partnership (GWP) is an organization whose “vision is for a water secure world. Our mission is to support the sustainable development and management of water resources at all levels. GWP believes that an integrated approach to managing the world’s water resources is the best way to pursue this vision- a vision that encompasses all of life.”
GWP has 5 guiding principles adapted from several international development summits, including RIO and the World Summit on Sustainable Development. They are:
• Freshwater is a finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development and the environment.
• Water development and management should be based on a participatory approach involving users, planners and policy makers at all levels.
• Women play a central part in the provision, management and safeguarding of water.
• Water is a public good and has a social and economic value in all its competing uses.
• Integrated water resources management is based on the equitable and efficient management and sustainable use of water and recognizes that water is an integral part of the ecosystem, a natural resource, and a social and economic good, whose quantity and quality determine the nature of its utilization.
In her World Water Day speech, Secretary Clinton announced the U.S. Water Partnership, a new public-private partnership that aims to unify the effort and expertise needed to address critical water problems over the coming years. As the Secretary explains:
[The U.S. Water Partnership] brings together a diverse range of partners from the private sector, the philanthropic community, the NGOs, academics, experts, and government. This approach will help catalyze new opportunities for cooperation. For example, if Coca-Cola has the best data on available water supplies, and the Army Corps of Engineers has the capacity to advise on how to build water delivery systems, and the Nature Conservancy knows how to minimize the disruption to the environment, then we want everybody sharing information and delivering clean water in a sustainable way to communities in need.