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History of the World Water Fora

The World Water Forum, the world’s largest water-related event, is organized every three years as a joint venture between the World Water Council and the government of the host country. After previous Fora in Morocco (1997), the Netherlands (2000), Japan (2003) and Mexico (2006), the 5th World Water Forum will be held in Istanbul, Turkey in March 2009. The Forum is an open, all-inclusive, multi-stakeholder process, which is the culmination of over two years of preparatory activities. In this way, the World Water Forum is not just a week-long event; it is a process which aims to raise the importance, awareness and understanding of water issues and propose concrete solutions to address global challenges.

First World Water Forum

Marrakech, Morocco – March 1997

Around 250 people participated in the 1st World Water Forum.

On this occasion, the WWC received the mandate to develop a long-term “Vision for Water, Life and the Environment in the 21st century”, to be presented during the 2nd Forum.

Second World Water Forum

The Hague, The Netherlands – March 2000

The main theme of the Forum was “From visions to action”. During the Forum the “World Water Vision” was presented.

The Second World Water Forum generated a lot of debate on the Water Vision for the Future and the associated Framework for Action, dealing with the state and ownership of water resources, their development potential, management and financing models, and their impact on poverty, social, cultural and economic development and the environment. Parallel to the Forum a Ministerial Conference, attended by over one hundred ministers from around the world, was held. The Ministerial Declaration identified meeting basic water needs, securing food supply, protecting ecosystems, sharing water resources, managing risks, valuing water and governing water wisely as the key challenges for our direct future.

Quick facts:
• 15,000 people involved in the Vision related discussions
• 5,700 participants in the Forum
• 114 ministers and official of 130 countries at the Ministerial Conference
• 500 journalists
• 32,500 visitors at the World Water Fair

Third World Water Forum

Kyoto, Shiga and Osaka, Japan – March 2003

The 3rd World Water Forum took the debate a step further also within the context of the new commitments of meeting the goals set forth at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in New York (2000), the International Freshwater Conference in Bonn (2001) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (2002). The large number of participants ensured that a variety of stakeholders and opinions were represented aiming at accepting differences and finding a common way forward.

Quick facts:
• 24,000 participants
• 1000 journalists
• 130 ministers

Fourth World Water Forum

Mexico, March 2006

The 4th World Water Forum came to an end on Wednesday, 22 March 2006, World Water Day, in Mexico City, after seven days of debates and exchanges. Close to 20,000 people from throughout the world participated in 206 working sessions where a total of 1600 local actions were presented.

Participants included official representatives and delegates from 140 countries out of which 120 mayors and 150 legislators, 1395 journalists, experts, NGOs, companies, civil society representatives were involved. The Ministerial Conference brought together 78 Ministers.
The Forum represented a unique opportunity to foster the world’s attention on water related issues. During an entire week, participants took the advantage of it to launch new initiatives and organize special events.

The main theme of the 4th World Water Forum was Local Actions for a Global Challenge. The organizers of the 4th Forum shared the belief that, regardless of their root causes, water related problems have their greatest impacts at the local level. As a result, local actions are key for generating concrete results that, when amalgamated across sectors and regions, will move us closer to meeting the water-related targets set by the Millennium Development Goals, the WSSD Implementation Plan and Local Agenda 21.

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