INTERVIEW: Siaka COULIBALY, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System
What does the 9th World Water Forum represent for the United Nations?
The World Water Forum, organised for the first time in sub-Saharan Africa, is an opportunity to highlight the interventions of the United Nations System in the framework of Sustainable Development Goal 6 "Water and Sanitation", in relation to the 16 other Sustainable Development Goals.
Today, climate change is acting as a multiplier of inequalities. Access to water and sanitation is becoming more and more problematic and is a fundamental issue for sustainable development, especially for the most vulnerable communities. SDG 6 is intrinsically linked to all dimensions of development (food security, education, health promotion and poverty reduction, migration etc.), while contributing to the growth of agriculture, industry and energy production, as well as to the preservation of ecosystem health.
The Forum therefore represents an opportunity to facilitate dialogue and collaboration on knowledge generation, policy making and concrete action on access to water and sanitation in the context of climate change. It should therefore serve as a platform for a better consideration of the sustainable development objectives related to water and all other dimensions of development, especially in rural areas, to formulate recommendations to be submitted to the Heads of State and Government and practitioners in the field of water and sanitation.
How are you participating in the preparatory process and in the organisation of the Forum?
First of all, it should be recalled that the UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes at the global level are key stakeholders in the preparation of the 9th World Water Forum with a strong representation of UN Agencies such as UN HABITAT, UNESCO, UNICEF, FAO in the Priority Leading Groups and in the Priority Action Groups to propose, through specific actions, concrete responses to a wide range of water-related sustainable development goals.
It should also be noted that the UN System was well represented, through the mobilisation of experts and logistical support, at the second stakeholders' meeting held in October 2021 in Dakar, which deliberated on the proposals of the working groups, to provide significant political contributions for the elaboration of the final programme of the Forum, to take stock of the Dakar 2022 initiative, to share the logistical information of the Forum and above all to propose draft key messages to the attention of Heads of State, Ministers, Parliamentarians, Local Authorities and Basin Authorities.
At the country level, the United Nations system is fully mobilised within the framework of a Task Force set up and grouping together more than 13 United Nations agencies with regular exchanges with the Local Organisation Committee (LOC) to identify together the avenues of collaboration for an integrated support of the United Nations system.
In this respect, 6 areas of collaboration have been identified, namely :
- The political aspect
- Thematic content
- Promotion, communication, mobilisation of actors, inclusion and gender;
- The Dakar 2022 initiative.
- Logistics; - And finally the preparation of the cultural programme.
We remain mobilized and committed, in close collaboration with the Organizing Committee, to materialize this contribution at all levels for a quality contribution of the United Nations System and a success of this important Forum.
In your capacity as Resident Coordinator, how do you mobilise the UN member agencies represented in Senegal?
Allow me to salute the commitment of the United Nations Agencies, Funds and Programmes which very early joined the establishment of the Task Force and their contribution to the unique support offer of the United Nations System to the 9th World Water Forum.
Today, more than 13 Agencies have mobilised in the framework of the Task Force specially set up to prepare and send a unique offer of the United Nations System to accompany the World Water Forum.
The meeting I had with the Executive Secretary of the Local Organizing Committee allowed to deepen the discussions and to transmit the unique offer of support of the United Nations System in Senegal to the 9th World Water Forum.
This offer consists of a matrix summarizing the future contributions of the Agencies, Funds and Programmes of the United Nations System to support the Government in the organization of the Forum.
This contribution covers the following areas :
- Support and organisation of thematic sessions;
- Promotion and mobilisation of actors, inclusion and gender
- The political component;
- And finally logistics.
We will continue discussions with the Executive Secretariat through the Task Force and under the coordination of the UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Senegal to strengthen collaboration.
What are your overall expectations of the Forum?
The Forum comes at the right time and constitutes a real space for dialogue and consultation on the issue of water, which is a vital resource.
As such, we expect many opportunities and positive perspectives from the event and mainly that it will serve as an inclusive platform to address all the challenges related to the SDGs and more specifically those related to access to water, food security, nutrition, health, human mobility, climate change and above all that the communities will be represented, so that the lessons that will be drawn can be implemented in a practical way for the benefit of the people and the planet.
And I would like to conclude by expressing the gratitude of the United Nations System to His Excellency President Macky Sall and his Government for the quality of our collaboration and for the organisation of the 9th World Water Forum, which is one of the major events of the year 2022.