High-level recognition of the value of source-to-sea approaches at World Water Week 2017

News Sep 07, 2017

Two high-level speakers at the opening plenary of World Water Week 2017 referred to the importance of applying source-to-sea approaches to make sure our oceans benefit from efforts to address “Water and waste: reduce and reuse”, the theme of this year’s Week.

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Peter Thomson, President of the United Nations General Assembly urged the World Water Week participants to appreciate the interconnectedness, since “none would imagine that the state of sanitation and coral reefs are anything but directly connected”. Karolina Skog, Minister of Environment of Sweden pointed out that “to secure our water and oceans we need to go upstream and work with the sources, with the source-to-sea approach.”

Minister Skog also participated in an interactive panel discussion on “Plastic Soup and Dead Zones – Source Prevention for Cleaner Seas” together with Jakob Granit, Director General of the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management; Andrew Hudson, Head of the UNDP Water and Ocean Governance Program; Cees van de Guchte, Deltares and Tove Ahlström, Head of Sustainability at the online pharmacy Apotea. “Making the link between SDG 6 on water and SDG 14 on oceans was one of the priorities raised by Sweden at the Ocean Conference”, said Karolina Skog. She further pointed to the fact that around 400 of the nearly 1400 voluntary commitments made at the Ocean Conference address land-based sources of pollution, and made the conclusion that “now we need to work together to keep this momentum”. Andrew Hudson emphasized that the vast majority of marine pollution and plastics come from land – most likely a lot more than the 80 percent figure that is often cited. Tove Ahlström provided an example of how the private sector can contribute, describing how Apotea recently decided to phase out some 200 products that contained micro-plastics. The event was convened by the Action Platform for Source-to-Sea Management, Deltares, FAO, Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management and the UNDP-SIWI Water Governance Facility. Minister Skog provided the keynote address at the event, which also featured technical presentations from Andreas Frössberg, Keep Sweden Tidy and Olcay Unver, Deputy Director and Amani Alfarra, Water Resources Officer, FAO.

GEF IW:LEARN and partners also organized a World Water Week event entitled Scaling-Up Pollution Control and Wastewater Management From Source to Sea. As part of the panel, Birgitta Liss Lymer from the S2S Platform Secretariat discussed why we see so limited policy discourse between water and coastal management communities. “The tragedy with source-to-sea linkages are that negative impacts are often experienced far downstream from the activities that contribute to them. Upstream stakeholders may not be aware of the extent of impacts they are contributing to, they may not have the capacity to implement the necessary measures or they may lack incentives to invest in pollution reduction measures that will primarily benefit the downstream.”