Conference Plan and Programme Overview
From the 1st to the 3rd of February, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America, and the Caribbean (ECLAC) hosted the third edition of the Regional Water Dialogues in Santiago de Chile. The events’ main goal was to explore ways to hasten the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Water and Sanitation) in the region.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development action plan, designed to promote peace, prosperity, and sustainable development, emphasises the importance of ensuring access to safe drinking water and promoting adequate sanitation. Part of the preparatory process for the 2023 United Nations Water Conference (New York, 22-24 March 2023) involves the regional analysis of the water priorities. Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region, with one-third of the worlds’ total water run-off and 32% of global renewable water resources, recognizes the crucial role of water in supporting energy and agricultural production. Therefore, the 2023 Regional Water Dialogues were essential to foster regional partnerships and cooperation on sustainable and inclusive water transition. Experts from Latin America and the Caribbean governmental ministries and non-governmental environmental institutions, academia, regional and international delegations provided sustainable perspectives to strengthen governance and mobilize national and international cooperation on water. Additionally, the event also featured many knowledge products developed in coordination with the Nexus program in the region, which promotes sustainable development by encouraging research and dialogue with local organisations on water resource management and territorial planning.
Workshop on Capacity Building and Circular Economy Approach
Prior to the start of the event, participants attended the workshop on "Capacity building to promote investments in the drinking water and sanitation sector with a circular economy approach". The objective was to enhance the capacity-building needs of Mexico, Panama, and El Salvador through the exchange of proposals. The experts highlighted the importance of agencies adopting circular economies in the drinking water, sanitation, methane recovery, energy efficiency and nutrient extraction sectors. The discussion also sought to create a suitable environment for sharing progress and implementing best practices in each sector.
Discussion panels: Exploring innovative solutions
The first day's discussion presented the global and regional context of water as a vector for development. The session introduced the region's water challenges. Mr. Pedro Arrojo, special rapporteur on the Human Right to Water, presented the international perspectives that guarantee water as a human right. In addition, the specialist highlighted regional triumphs in water management to enhance water sustainability. To this end, it is essential to strengthen existing institutions, fill institutional gaps and improve coordination among them. Following this, El Salvador, Panama, Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Bolivia announced the foundation of the Regional Network and Observatory for Water Sustainability (ROSA). Regional challenges to climate change impacts were discussed, proposing improvements for added resilience and risk mitigation. Ms. Silvia Saravia Matus, ECLAC economic affairs officer, highlighted the importance of “more countries joining this network to strengthen and enrich it”.
During the second day, the participants specifically addressed the benefits of the circular economy and explored mechanisms to access new sources of financing. Similarly, the following panel underlined the benefits of inclusive, cross-sectoral, and action-oriented regional and territorial cooperation. The panelists also highlighted the potential of regional policies that interrelate the water, energy, and food sectors to achieve sustainable development commitments. The day concluded with a time slotted for interventions related to the Regional Water Action Agenda. Furthermore, the third and final day was centred on presenting concrete solutions that advance the transition toward sustainable water management. After the three-day event, Mr. José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Executive Secretary of ECLAC, expressed his gratitude to all participants and highlighting the outcomes achieved during the conference.
Outcomes and future action
The discussion highlighted the importance of circular economies, inclusive and cross-sectoral regional cooperation and policy interrelations between the water, energy, and food sectors. The outcomes of the conference can serve as a strong foundation for future progress and innovative capacities in the LAC region. Overall, to accelerate the implementation of SDG 6, it is essential to appreciate the value of water and include effective governance mechanisms that contribute to the development of innovative capacities in the Latin American and the Caribbean region. Additionally, the achievements of the event provide a valuable reference for sustainable water management practices, serving as an inspiration for other regions in preparation for the 2023 UN Water Conference.
See the full conference here.
- Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme LAC // Water-Energy-Food Nexus Initiative for territorial planning. A policy dialogue to spark exchange
- Nexus Regional Dialogues Programme LAC // Nexus Dialogue: United to face water, energy and food crises.