The DWG2015 and the O2015 in Fortaleza is pleased to serve as the venue for the first Regional Consultation on Water Security, conducted by UN-WATER with the collaboration of the Inter-American Water Resources Network (IWRN), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
The UN-Water Task Force on Water Security is co-chaired by UNU and UNESCAP. Members of the Task Force include UN-Water Members such as FAO, UNCBD, UNDP, UNECA, UNECLAC, UNESCAP, UNESCWA, UNISDR, and UNU as well as UN-Water Partners such as AIDA, GWP, IAH, ICID, IUCN, SIWI and the WWF. In 2013, the Task Force completed and published the “Analytical Brief – Water Security & the Global Water Agenda” which was launched on World Water Day, 2013. This analytical brief puts forward a definition of water security and discusses the various connections between water security and different aspects of society.
The UN-Water Analytical Brief, elaborated by the UN-Water Task Force on Water Security, defines water security as the “capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being, and socio-economic development, for ensuring protection against water-borne pollution and water related disasters, and for preserving ecosystems in a climate of peace and political stability.”
Increased attention to water security has been observed through a series of international fora and meetings. A number of UN member states have also expressed concern about the nature of water security and how it might interface with their own regional and national interests.
Latin America and the Caribbean is a hydrologically and economically heterogeneous region, which in the last decade has seen a significant reduction in poverty, high economic growth and greater macroeconomic stability, and the emergence of a middle class. However, the region remains the most unequal in the world. It has been unable to converge per capita GDP with developed countries, and about 28% of its population still live in poverty. The focus of national policies is primarily on economic development and poverty reduction. The basis of most economies remains the export of natural resources, which use large quantities of water in their production.
This situation generates tensions in water management for two main reasons. First, economic activities and population tend to be concentrated in dry and sub-humid areas. This leads to increasing competition, not only in terms of quantity, but also in quality and opportunity of use, for scarce water resources, a situation that is expected to be aggravated in the future through the joint negative effect of higher water demands due to population growth and economic development and drier conditions (and increased hydrological variability) in many river basins with climate change. Second, economic growth and rising income levels generate an increasing demand for public services and environmental amenities. Unfortunately, recent decades have seen a reduction in investments in economic infrastructure. With rising incomes and democratization, people are demanding more emphasis to be given to environmental conservation and to the protection of the rights of indigenous communities.
With the complexity and significance of water security within Latin America and the Caribbean, the UN Water Security Task Force proposes a meeting experts to be held in collaboration with IWRN and ECLAC. The meeting will be conducted in Spanish, with simultaneous translation to Portuguese and English, while outputs from the consultation, the Consultancy Report, will be completed in English, Portuguese, and Spanish. Through this meeting of experts the UN Taskforce aims to better understand regional perspectives on water security, the regional situation and priorities and develop and evidence-based approach to ameliorate these concerns. This consultation aims to provide an opportunity to discuss and analyze the concept of water security and its implications in the specific context of Latin America and the Caribbean, helping to foster a better understanding of the concept and issues surrounding water security. This consultation will be a non-governmental exercise which will bring together regional experts to discuss the concept and priorities of water security in the specific context of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Through this expert consultation the UN-Water Task Force on Water Security aims to meet the following objectives:
- A better understanding of the concept of water security and identification of priority water security issues in the specific context of Latin America and the Caribbean.
- Identify linkages between water security in the Latin America and Caribbean region, the MDGs and the post-2015 development agenda.
- To provide recommendations for UN-Water on how it might assist the countries of the region in addressing key water security issues.
- To formulate recommendations for the countries of the region to help them address key water security issues.
Outcomes and Results:
A draft consultation report will be prepared prior to the consultation. Its objectives will be to identify the key water security issues in the specific context of Latin America and the Caribbean and to formulate recommendations to help the countries to address these issues. Its final version, to be prepared after the workshop, will incorporate the inputs received at the meeting. After completion of all consultations these Consultation Reports will be collected into a Summary Report. This summary will be used to create the final outcome of the consultation series, a water security policy brief. A consultant will be hired to assist with limited translation during the consultation, if needed, as well as in the creation of the Consultation Report in both Spanish and English. From this consultation the following outcomes will be achieved in the following order:
- Expert Consultation: At the Latin American and Caribbean Water Security Meeting of Experts there will be participation and representation from UN member states, academia, experts, water related sectors, civil society, etc.
- Consultation Reports: At the conclusion of this consultation we will produce a regional Consultation Report. This report will summarize the findings and discussion from this consultation and create recommendations for the Latin America and Caribbean region. This report will be written in Spanish and English, and disseminated through regional and UN-Water channels.
 United Nations University, “Water Security and the Global Water Agenda,” 2013. 1.