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14 April 2015
The 4th Local and Regional Authorities Conference opens at Gyeongju during the 7th World Water Forum
The 4th Local and Regional Authorities Conference, held under the title of “Toward a Roadmap for implementation”, opens today at Gyeongju, South Korea during the 7th World Water Forum.
Dedicated to water management issues and challenges faced by local and regional governments (LRAs), the 4th edition of the conference pays special focus on the implementation of the Istanbul Water Consensus – a unique initiative that recognizes LRAs as the center of water management.
The Consensus was initiated by Istanbul’s Mayor Kadir Tobas in 2009, and was endorsed by the 5th World Water Forum. As of today, it has been signed on a voluntary basis by 1000 LRAs worldwide to express their commitment to prepare action plans on integrated water management.
“Access to water and the management of water infrastructure are especially relevant to local governments,” said Bert Diphoorn, Director of Donor Relations and Resource Mobilization Services of UN-Habitat. “To pursue and implement sustainable development, LRAs must be empowered through techniques and finance, and they must be involved in the major dialogue and political processes.”
Today’s water issues are expected to become more challenging and complicated due to rapid urbanization and climate change. By 2050, the world will become 70% urbanize; and in 20 years, 40% of the world’s population will be affected by water deficiency, said Yeom Tae-Young, Mayor of Suwon, South Korea.
Integrated water management, and implementing actions with the participation of local stakeholders, with respect to special conditions of cities and regions, are the keys to effective water management, said Yeom, who proposed the establishment of a water management platform to share ideas on water solutions.
Realizing the destruction rapid development has brought to the city in the past decades, Suwon city has stepped up in acknowledging the value of water and sharing that value with local residents and cities across Korea. While it has once lost the Suwoncheon, a natural stream that ran through the city, the stream is now restored – an excellent demonstration of paradigm shift from development-focused to environmental-friendly restoration.
“Streams gather to become rivers, and rivers gather to become seas and oceans. We gather here today at the forum as an ocean,” said Kwan-yong Kim, Governor of Gyeonbuk-do. He hopes that the declaration of the Deagu-Gyeongbuk Water Action for Sustainable Cities and Regions, which will be endorsed at the end of the conference, will open up a new horizon in resolving water issues faced by our world today.
“Through building cooperative partnerships between local and national governments, we can enhance accountability in water management,” said Jong-sup Chong, Minster of Korea’s Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs.
“The World Water Forum will also provide the place for discussing how we can institutionalize and put a framework on water management, as well as our strategies towards water management in the context of climate change,” said Nader Ghazal, Mayor of Tripoli City, Lebanon, and Representative from United Cities and Local Governments.
Held from 13 to 14 April 2015, the World Water Forum will have plenaries and break-out sessions covering the topic of water governance and finance, cities’ presentations, integrated urban water management, and peer-to-peer partnerships for sustainable water and sanitation s service provision.
For more information about the conference, visit