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New bridges, future directions: Meeting the challenges in water and sanitation

Time (GMT +00) 00:00 23:59


This is a time of critical challenges in the water sector. Climate change is preoccupying many agencies and governments, and will have major implications for water resources management and financing. Meanwhile growing demand for energy and rising food prices are raising serious questions about water allocation and investment priorities. And many countries – particularly in Africa – still have a long way to go to meet the Millennium Development Goals for water and sanitation. These challenges demand new thinking.

A number of international events offer opportunities for progress, however. The International Year of Sanitation has just concluded, and the forthcoming World Water Forum has chosen the theme “Bridging Divides for Water”. In December 2008, at the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in Poznan, a roundtable will be held to assess progress in country-level adaptation to climate change, identify gaps and propose ways forward. And in the UK, DFID has just launched its new water and sanitation policy. 

Against this backdrop ODI will hold four public meetings between November 2008 and February 2009, each focusing on a key challenge facing the water sector. Through these meetings, and an accompanying interactive blog, we aim to facilitate a broad stakeholder debate and outline possible actions and responses to the challenges. The meetings will cover the following topics:

Cleaning up our act: Scalable actions and effective aid

Sanitation perspectives: taking stock of the International Year of Sanitation
  • How far has the IYS helped to overcome the sanitation stigma and place sanitation in wider development debates?
  • What needs to happen to translate funding into effective approaches on the ground, and how can new approaches be taken to scale?
  • Where does ‘Community-led Total Sanitation’ sit within the sanitation debate, and where is it going?
  • What are the knowledge gaps?
The role of aid in achieving the MDGs: a sector perspective
  • How do the challenges and opportunities for progress in aid effectiveness differ between sectors (e.g. water, health, education, roads)?
  • What progress was made on ways to measure sector aid effectiveness at the Accra High Level Forum?
  • How should the links between aid effectiveness and development outcomes be made clearer?

Climate change and water: adaptation frameworks and financing

  • How are responses to climate change being formulated at country level, and how do they respond to both the demands of local actors and scientific evidence?
  • Where and how do water sector insitutions fit in to adaptation in-country?
  • How can international donor financing best support effective adaptation to climate change?

Thirsty cities and dry fields: new stresses at the urban-rural interface

  • What are the implications of rising food prices on water demand? Is there enough water to grow food, meet the needs of urban consumers and protect the environment?
  • What are the implications of the rural-urban transition on water resource management?
  • Is current thinking on the impact of climate change on water availability obscuring key debates around access and use?