8TH WORLD WATER FORUM: A CITIZEN FORUM!
8TH WORLD WATER FORUM: A CITIZEN FORUM!
The 8th World Water Forum, held in Brasilia from March 18-23, 2018, became a landmark in international water discussions. This is confirmed not only by the diverse innovations, the panels with the world’s top authorities on relevant topics and hundreds of high-level technical discussions, the superlative numbers of participants – about 120,000 people -, the more than 100 foreign delegations or 73 government officials and 12 heads of state, but also, and most importantly, by the fact that the 8th Forum will be remembered as the most inclusive of the largest water gatherings!
Often the organizers repeated the motto: “The Forum belongs to everyone who drinks water”! And it does seem to be that the world was thirsty for discussions on a growing and worrying topic: what will happen to the planet’s water, if the predictions about population growth, food and energy demands, water demand and consequences of climate change come true? In the preparatory phase, the institutional participation was huge: about 400 institutions engaged in the thematic process, 362 in the regional process, and more than 500 organizations in the Citizen Process!
In fact, over 5,200 people contributed to the preparation of the Citizen Forum! And so the Forum has become a very receptive environment for civil society. First, the recognition of the human right to water and sanitation, explicit in hundreds of activities, spread the sense of citizenship in everyone present. In addition, the Citizen Forum promoted the inclusion of the public through discussion of current, emerging and relevant issues for world societies such as minorities, indigenous peoples, women, family farming, urban rivers, local populations and communities in vulnerable and risk situations, young water entrepreneurs, low cost technologies, social capital, environmental crimes, citizen education, diversity, among others.
The Citizen Process promoted various activities in the host city (such as street racing, activities on Lake Paranoá, a film festival, and cultural activities in public schools) and created specific spaces in the area of the 8th Forum. At the Convention Center, Hydrocafé has become a bustling meeting place with lectures, debates and interviews. In the parking lot of Mané Garrincha stadium, the Citizen Village was built.Composed of various environments, such as Citizen Cinema, the Solutions Market (small booths with 60 solutions to various problems), the Water Arena (300-seat amphitheater), the Green Nation (space with attractions based on immersion and interaction technologies) and Brasilia Area, occupied by GDF agencies, which promoted 175 activities for young people and adults and 170 activities in the Criança Candanga space. Undoubtedly, the Citizen Village was the greatest innovation in the history of the World Water Forum. It received, for free, about 110 thousand citizens. And the best news: of this total, about 60,000 were children and young people!
This work, CITIZEN FORUM LEGACY, which REBOB offers to the public, describes and analyzes all of these activities, and will show that the Citizen Forum was an open platform that fostered discussion and cooperation in the search for solutions to water issues around the world. However, we must always remember that citizens have many rights, but they also have duties! And among these, included in the Brazilian Water Law (Law 9.433 / 1997) is the duty to participate in the management of water resources in the Watershed Committees and, in everyday life, use water rationally and sustainably, thinking about the community, since in Brazil there is no private ownership of water! Everyone who drinks water has responsibility for the quantity and quality of water!
Co-President of the 8th World Water Forum, representing Brazil.
Paulo Salles is a PhD in ecology and an associate professor at the University of Brasilia. He was president of the Paranaíba River Basin Committees and the Paranaíba River Tributaries in the Federal District. He is currently Chief Executive Officer of the Water, Energy and Basic Sanitation Regulatory Agency (Adasa-DF) and member of the Board of Governors of the World Water Council.