What is the World Water Forum?

The World Water Forum is the world's largest event on water. The 9th Forum took place from 21 to 26 March 2021 in Dakar, Senegal, and was the first Forum to be hosted in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Why is the World Water Forum important?

The World Water Forum brings together representatives from governments, multilateral institutions, academia, civil society organisations and the private sector, and provides a platform for the international water community and key decision makers to collaborate and make long-term progress on global water challenges.  

With the theme of 'Water Security for Peace and Development', the Dakar 2022 Forum focused on four priorities: water security and sanitation; water for rural development; cooperation; and means and tools, including the crucial issues of financing, governance, knowledge management and innovation.

The Forum was an opportunity for ministers in charge of water across the world to provide leadership, political guidance and advocacy to help advance the international political agenda. A Dakar Action Plan for Ministers was developed and adopted to implement the political declaration of the Forum, and to feed into the UN Water Conference in March 2023.  

WaterAid at the World Water Forum

At the World Water Forum in Dakar, we called on leaders to make water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) a top political priority and central to strong health systems, climate resilience and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We reiterated to leaders that they need to rapidly increase funding for the scale-up of sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene services, and prioritise the billions of people worldwide who currently do not have access to these essentials.

How did we engage?

  • A delegation of 14 people from across the organisation – from Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Senegal, Sweden and the UK – attended the Forum.
  • We participated in 12 sessions as speakers.
  • We launched a new report: Groundwater: the world’s neglected defence against climate change. A virtual press conference and media briefing helped to secure more than 10 interviews and 20 articles.
  • We attended more than 11 lobbying meetings with organisations including the European Commission, USAID, the Government of Mozambique, the Economic Community of West African States, and the German Development Bank.
  • We co-hosted a hybrid workshop with Citizens Alliance – Cultivating the next generation of young leaders for WASH – to put the voices of young people at the forefront of the challenge ahead.

The road ahead

Our work to encourage leaders to make water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) a top political priority continues. Since the World Water Forum we have: 

  • Finalised the Youth Manifesto, developed during our workshop, and shared it widely with young people and youth groups around the world.
  • Co-hosted a high-level event with the French Presidency of the European Union on enhancing water security for better resilience to climate threats.
  • Engaged parliamentarians and developed plans for MPs from several countries to meet with our Advocacy Community of Practice group, and to link up WASH parliamentary groups across countries.
  • Used our strengthened relationships to accelerate the national adoption and implementation of the African Sanitation Policy Guidelines.

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