WaterLex was very honoured to participate in the Water Leaders Round Table at Korea International Water Week in Daegu this month to discuss ‘Sustainable Water Management for Humans and Nature’. This three-year over-arching theme reflects the aim of the KIWW to encourage water experts and colleagues to find a path for sustainable water management both at the local and global level. It encompasses a wide range of water issues of supply, use, reuse, and resilience with preservation and protection of ecosystems for both humans and nature. This also reflects a ‘leave no one behind’ philosophy to contribute to global initiative of sustainable development.

Mr. Myung-rae Cho, Minister of the Environment in Korea, Mr. Youngjin Kwon, Mayor of Daegu, and Mr. Hak-Soo Lee, President of K-Water hosted the roundtable discussion involving ministers from Uganda, Sri Lanka and Senegal, and leaders of water governance and development organisations.

Each leader was asked to share their views on sustainable development in the water sector. WaterLex gave the following message:

There needs to be a change of thinking in order to achieve 100% access to safe and improved water and sanitation for all, as outlined in the Sustainable Development Goal 6 on Water.  The resources required for large scale infrastructure[1]  in many developing countries are not readily available, and yet there is a reluctance to allow the private sector to fill the gap, and cost recovery is not obvious in poorer areas.

It remains the duty of States to ensure that human rights to water and sanitation are protected and respected, but there are a range of legal and governance tools available that can help in this regard.

  1. Incorporate regulations that ensure that all water service providers, whether private or public, include human rights sensitive standards. Especially when inviting the private sector to have responsibility for aspects of supply or treatment, it is important to create the enabling legal environment that lowers their risk of investment, and safeguards standards for the protection of the population.
  2. Start measuring and collecting data that relates to human rights, including such items as water quality, gender balance, accessibility for marginalized people, availability and volumes of water per head and proximity and safety for access.  There is a long list, and it includes disaggregated data, but it is the first step to find out who is being included, and how. 

[1] the Global Water Intelligence (GWI) revealed that total worldwide investments into water infrastructure must reach £342bn ($449bn) each year between 2018 and 2030 if SDG6 and SDG14 are to be achieved on time