Participants attending the first Global Wastewater Initiative (GWI) Forum have nominated UN-Habitat and UNEP to co-chair the body.
The Initiative is a multi-stakeholders’ platform comprised of UN agencies, international organizations, governments, scientists and the private sector. It is a voluntary network of stakeholders aimed at facilitating coordinated action to address the wastewater challenge and to push the wastewater agenda by sharing information, tools, lessons and good practices, including environmentally sound technologies. The Forum, held back-to-back with the Second Global Conference on Land-Ocean Connections (GLOC-2), made recommendations on the GWI’s operational structure, focus, terms of reference and tentative plan of action.
The development of a global partnership on wastewater management was endorsed in January 2012 by the Third Inter-governmental Review (IGR-3) of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA).
According to the Sick Water Report published by UN-Habitat and UNEP in 2010, up to 90% of untreated wastewater flows are generated in densely populated coastal areas, resulting in high pollution of the receiving water bodies, with negative impact on fisheries, livelihoods and the food chain. Inadequate treatment and a lack of sustainable approaches to wastewater management also lead to lost opportunities to reuse water and to recycle nutrients and other materials for agriculture, industrial production and drinking water supply. Reducing unregulated discharge of wastewater and securing safe water are among the most important interventions.
Under the leadership of UN-Habitat and UNEP, the GWI is expected to raise awareness on the wastewater challenges and opportunities, strengthen policy and institutional mechanisms and tools for managing and monitoring the impacts of wastewater, broker integrated approaches and solutions, including joint demonstration projects and contribute to the Post-2015 discussions on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target and indicators related to wastewater. It is also anticipated that different stakeholders will form thematic groups to focus on specific wastewater issues, challenges and potentialities.