GWOPA and Engineers Without Borders co-organized this event at the Sant Pau Modernist Site in Barcelona, bringing together the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), various regional cooperation agencies, as well as public utilities, to build links between their respective water-focused international development work.
Local actors like utilities are playing an ever-more important role in supporting their counterparts in other parts of the world to build capacity and get on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. GWOPA has tracked over 300 WOPs around the world since 2010. These partnerships are improving the skills of local staff and boosting performance that paves the way for increased access to services. In several cases, these WOPs have catalyzed significant turnarounds and helped transform struggling utilities into regional champions.
While water and sanitation access rates are improving, almost 900 million people still lack a basic drinking water service. In most cities and communities, public operators are expected to deliver on these human rights, but many struggle to meet the demand amid a growing set of challenges, from informal urbanization to diminishing water resources and climate change.
At the same time, many public utilities in Spain and elsewhere are reaching out to mentor their peers with sustainable solutions. By joining forces and resources with regional and national actors, these local efforts can go much further towards the SDG Water Goal (SDG6), which calls for ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
With the theme “Leave No One Behind,” this year’s World Water Day emphasizes the need for all people to benefit from access to safe water and sanitation.
In response to this call, the first objective of the session was to share past and ongoing initiatives where water operators and municipalities from Spain engage with others across the globe to support capacity development towards ensuring improved access to water supply and sanitation. A second objective was to jointly reflect on how to strategically align water sector actors in Spain to optimize impact of Spanish development cooperation initiatives in the timeframe of the Agenda 2030 on the achievement of SDG6 and the Human Right to Water and Sanitation.
A key message from the dialogue highlighted the need for Spanish actors to establish a common vision for WOPs. Furthermore, consensus was made to systematize the exchange of knowledge towards a more programmatic approach across the region.