Barcelona wins bid to host UN-Habitat’s Water Partnership Secretariat

<Press Release by UN-Habitat>


© Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Paul

UN-Habitat has accepted the City of Barcelona’s offer to Host the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) Secretariat for the next five years. The announcement was made this week after an evaluation recommending the Barcelona bid over competing offers was presented to the 45th session of the UN-Habitat Committee of Permanent Representatives. 

The announcement ends the search for hosts that began in January 2012, through a Call for Expression of Interest issued to UN member states and partners of the Alliance. Hosting applicants were required to commit a minimum of USD 1 Million in funding annually to the Secretariat, in addition to providing a serviced hosting environment. The applicants were evaluated on the basis of their financial commitments, opportunities provided by the space and its geographical location, and the degree of support behind the offer.


Barcelona overcame strong offers from UNESCO-IHE in Delft, the Netherlands, and the Turkish Water Institute in Istanbul,Turkey. The Barcelona offer excelled in its financial commitment, which was USD 525,000 per year higher than the others, and in the strength of the institutional support and coordination behind its bid, backed by government at national, regional, and municipal levels, as well as local water institutions, civil society, and the private sector. The Alliance Secretariat will join other international institutions in the Sant Pau Catalan Art Nouveau Facility, a UNESCO World Heritage Site being developed as a center for innovative research and action in the fields of sustainability, health and education.

The Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance is the global mechanism to promote solidarity-based peer support between the world’s water and sanitation operators, so-called water operators’ partnerships.  UN-Habitat established the Alliancein 2007 as a priority recommendation of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board, the Hashimoto Action Plan.  The Alliance is led by a multi-sectorial International Steering Committee. 

Since its launching in 2007, the Secretariat staff and operational costs have been financed through UN-Habitat’s Water and Sanitation Trust Fund (WSTF). External hosting was pursued in an effort to mobilize additional resources to sustainably support the Alliance’s staff and operational expenses. UN-Habitat will continue to lead and champion the Alliance in its new location.

From Barcelona, the Alliance Secretariat will continue to work with partners on all continents to expand water operator partnerships. It will also actively pursue stronger collaboration with the two other candidate institutions in the Netherlands and Turkey who stand to strengthen Water Operators’ Partnerhsips practice with their expertise, networks, and resources. 

“This is a very positive development for UN-Habitat”, said Executive Director, Dr. Joan Clos,  who added that the new financial commitments would allow the agency to continue supporting this important initiative while availing funds for Habitat to strengthen its work elsewhere. Dr. Clos expressed his gratitude to all institutions that responded to the Call for Expression of Interest and shared his hope for continued cooperation with the Netherlands and Turkey.

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