Thursday, 19 March 2009

IMPRESSIONS FROM MY FIRST WORLD WATER FORUM

by KATHARINA WELLE, SPRU, DPhil student

This is the first World Water Forum that I am attending - I expected it to be fairly chaotic, not so well organised and buzzing with people from all sorts of backgrounds - government, NGOs and a few people from the private sector from all over the world.

Instead, the logistics around the forum are amazing - one can clearly see that Turkey put a lot of effort into creating a professional, environmentally friendly and water-friendly image - for example, there are no plastic water bottles but there are big water containers and all participants were supplied with re-usable water bottles.

Another surprise is the many Turkish participants in the forum from school children who are having fun around the Learning Centre and the Youth Forum to Turkish participants fromgovernment, the private sector and many Turkish NGOs represented in the Civil Society area.

This, however, takes me to another point - that of where are all the other NGOs, international and from different localities? They seem to be strangely absent from the forum, particularly when looking at the space available for stalls. The private sector and governments have much larger stalls and, altogether, take up far more space than NGOs. The latter can probably be found at the alternative forum or might not have bothered to come altogether. Sadly, this means that their perspective is under-represented although topics at the forum could have accomodated their concerns and would have been enriched by their perspectives. There should be more dialogue between the different groups rather than a continuation of the scism i.e. with regard to public-private debates. With regard to dams and transboundary water issues, however, it is more questionable whether the event would be able accomodate a space for open dialogue on these issues with Turkey as the hosting country. Here is the beginning of my post.

No comments: