UN-Habitat launches GWOPA office in UN Bonn to accelerate progress towards water and sanitation for all by 2030

Bonn, Germany, 4 May 2022 – After two years of pandemic restrictions, the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) will officially celebrate its office opening in Bonn when the United Nations Human Settlements (UN-Habitat) Executive Director and United Nations Under-Secretary General, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, visits the city on 9th May.

GWOPA, founded by UN-Habitat in 2009, is the only UN platform dedicated to the public water and sanitation operators who provide basic services to the majority of the world’s population. GWOPA facilitates solidarity-based, not-for-profit peer partnerships and knowledge exchange (Water Operators’ Partnerships or WOPs) to strengthen service providers’ capacity to reach Sustainable Development Goal 6: clean water and sanitation for all.

The GWOPA Secretariat moved to Bonn in 2020 during the first months of the pandemic, following an open international call for hosting. The five-year long hosting arrangement with the Government of Germany supports GWOPA to pursue its mission of scaling up robust professional WOP partnerships between water and sanitation service providers.

“Effective utilities ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, a cornerstone of healthy cities and communities. Germany considers Water Operators` Partnerships a key instrument to reach more people with better services and we are proud to see that the UN-Habitat led Global Water Operators` Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) took first roots in its new home town Bonn. The COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine are a timely reminder of the key role water utilities play in the daily lives of all of us. Declining revenues in the wake of the pandemic and rising energy prices have weakened the performance of these key players in all our partner countries. It is now essential to expand the transfer of know-how between water utilities in order to counteract this development. BMZ and GWOPA will keep working together to scale up WOPs for a better urban future”, said Dr. Tania Vorwerk, BMZ Director for Global Health, Resilience and Equality of Opportunity.

According to the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, “at UN-Habitat, our goal is sustainable urban development, including provision of water and sanitation services for all. Thanks to support from the host country and the city of Bonn, we can contribute to this mission through UN-Habitat’s Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance. But we need to scale up this work and develop even stronger collaboration between peer water and sanitation providers and leave no one behind.”

As host to over 25 UN institutions and more than 150 related organisations, Bonn has developed into a sustainability hub. The city has gone through a comprehensive process to link the city’s 2030 Sustainability Strategy to the Sustainable Development Goals, supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, as part of a long-standing commitment towards sustainable development – environment, climate, international partnerships – and the municipal and global implementation of the New Urban Agenda.

According to the Lord Mayor of Bonn, Ms. Katja Dörner, “access to safe drinking water for all is a basic requirement for sustainable development. The Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) is working to precisely achieve this. I am pleased that this global alliance is coordinated from Bonn. With 25 UN agencies, Bonn today is an internationally important UN location. And by working together, UN Bonn is making an important contribution to the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

Seizing the moment of Ms. Sharif’s visit to Bonn, GWOPA will celebrate a host of events on May 9th together with the German Government and the City of Bonn. The 14th edition of the annual GWOPA International Steering Committee meeting, to be held for the first time in Bonn, will provide critical feedback on progress, direction, and work plans to ensure GWOPA continues to reflect the needs of its members around the world.

In addition, a high-level seminar Water, Sanitation and Urbanization: Global Cooperation for Local Action to Implement ‘Our Common Agenda’ will discuss the localization of the water and sanitation dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals, the importance of strengthening local public service providers and the role of solidarity-based networks to meet capacity gaps and needs. Participants can join online by registering here.

The day will end with a reception at the Old Town Hall of the City of Bonn.