Two major political endeavours on water, namely the High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) and the High Level Panel on Water and Peace (HLPWP) have elevated water - in the political agenda in the last two years - through converging messages and recommendations around the availability of water data for peace and sustainable development.
At the end of 2017, the High Level Panel on Water and Peace launched the Report “A Matter of Survival”. The report contains the analysis and the recommendations adopted by the Panel stemming from two years of work, one of which spotlights water data explicitly: “Quantity and Quality: Strengthening of Knowledge-Based and Data-Driven Decision Making and Cooperation”.
In March of this year, the High-Level Panel on Water released its outcome report “Making Every Drop Count - An Agenda for Water Action”, which includes a set of key recommendations whereby one clearly stresses on the need to develop national water data policies and systems, using open data approaches wherever possible, with support from the World Water Data Initiative.
The need for water data for peace was recently underscored by international media with devastating flood and drought events across the globe. The severe drought that hit Cape Town in spring brought immense consequences on livelihoods and the country’s economy, and was declared as a national disaster. Torrential rain in Japan this summer triggered floods and landslide taking the lives of hundreds of people.
2018 has been an important year in regards to the World Meteorological Organization’s water agenda, for multiple reasons. The HydroConference of last May clearly outlined the need to reinforce water data availability and the provision of hydrological products and services for decision and policy making in water resources management, as well as for the pursuit of peace. As Mr Annan underscored in his opening speech on the Water Day held during the WMO Executive Council in June, “If sustainably managed across sectors and societies, water has the power to build trust between communities and contribute to the broader establishment of peace and development efforts”.
To address this important issue and in support of the Sustainable Development Goals and the UNFCCC agenda, the German Government through its Mission in Geneva invited the WMO to organize, together with the Geneva Water Hub, a gathering that would help create a coalition of Geneva Mission Champions to help push the agenda forward through their national governments.
The present gathering is to be seen as the first of two. While the first gathering will help raise awareness on the topic, the second, which is foreseen in spring 2019,will include strategic discussions on potential investments in three WMO initiatives specific to water data, namely the Global Hydrometry Support Facility (WMO HydroHub), the WMO Global Hydrological Status and Outlook System (HydroSOS) and the World Water Data Initiative (WWDI).