13/12/16Global Issues 

Budapest Water Summit – November 28-30 2016

AquaFed and some members attended the Budapest Water Summit 2017. This was arguably the most important political and multi-stakeholder water event of 2017. It coincided with a meeting of the High-Level Panel on Water, which also met in Budapest at the same time. It was the first event of its kind to take place since the UN adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) came into effect. Recognising this, there were many calls to move from “advocacy to action”, or from “diplomacy to delivery”.

Activities involving AquaFed or its members present in Budapest included:

  • Participation in the “drafting group”, which met initially during a weekend in June 2016 to draft the political outcome statements from the event and during the Summit itself. The texts of the “Budapest Messages” and “Political recommendations” were published at the end of the summit. 
  • Keynote presentation by the Honorary President of AquaFed, M. Gerard Payen in the first thematic session related to the implementation of SDG 6.1 on safe drinking water. This presentation was widely acclaimed. (Link)
  • Keynote presentation by M. Pierre Victoria (Veolia) in the second thematic session and facilitation of the high-level panel discussion related to sanitation and public health by AquaFed’s Executive Director M. Jack Moss. This related to SDG’s 3, 6.2 and 6.3.
  • Participation in the third high-level panel discussion on managing water use efficiency in relation to SDG 6.4 by M. Bruno Tisserand, the President of Eureau.
  • AquaFed’s president M. Mamadou Dia took part in many of the sessions as well, and was accompanying the Senegalese Minister of Water M. Mansour Faye.
  • AquaFed’s Executive Director was a panellist in the opening session of the Women’s Forum.
  • AquaFed also made two public interventions during the plenary sessions in the last day, highlighting in particular the need to address water pollution (SDG 6.3) and the need for the statistical process to support the political vision of the SDGs. These questions raised strong and positive responses from the experts in the panels.


Encouraging political statements on the importance of water in the 2030 Agenda were made. It was stressed that water issues are included in the UN Security Council, in the COP 22 and in Habitat III. The participation of the President of the UN General Assembly and his call to “link freshwater pollution with ocean issues” was a strong signal. The Budapest Water Summit provided an opportunity for a parallel meeting of the High-Level Panel on Water (Joint Statement) and its publication of two documents on sector financing.  It was reported that the resolution supporting a new water decade is progressing to final adoption. 

Key political objectives of this summit were the so-called “New Political Architecture for Water” and the strengthening of UN-Water. These are proving more challenging than many had hoped, which indicates that water issues are still given a relatively low profile in international politics. This needs to change so the “global water community” still has much to do to redress this balance. Another Summit dedicated to global water politics is needed.