From Global Water Challenge, November 3, 2016
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On October 28, Ambassador and Special Representative for Environment and Water Resources Jennifer Haverkamp and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator Charles North hosted a listening session at the U.S. Department of State to solicit public views on how the U.S. could work to increase access to safe drinking water and sanitation, improve water resources management, and promote cooperation on shared waters, as public perspectives into the development of a U.S. Global Water Strategy (GWS).
The GWS is required by the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014 and is due to the U.S. Congress by October 1, 2017. Approximately 90 participants at the session included representatives from industry, academia, the philanthropic and not-for-profit community, professional associations, and other U.S. agencies involved in water policy. In addition to reinforcing the above themes as priority action areas, many speakers urged the U.S. to demonstrate greater global leadership and a more coordinated “whole-of-government” approach.
This event was the first of what likely will be several public engagement opportunities to obtain stakeholder feedback and garner support for the GWS once it is rolled out. For more information about how to share public comments, please click here. The submission deadline is Saturday, November 12, 2016.
Public comments offered at the October 28 listening session brought out a number of key points, including but is not limited to the following:
- Despite progress, significant challenges remain with growing evidence of security challenges posed by water stress, exacerbated by climate change and other threats.
- Important development gains in health, education, gender empowerment could be wiped out by increasing threats from climate change on water resources, depleting groundwater supply, and migration challenges.
- The U.S. has the legal mandate, assets and the opportunity to demonstrate leadership on global water and sanitation issues.
- There is strong bipartisan support for water issues and the group encouraged engaging U.S. Members of Congress.
- The “how” (process, identifying roles, responsibilities, capabilities across U.S.government agencies) is equally as important as the “what” for implementing the strategy and could benefit from being informed by previous attempts to forge a coordinated U.S. approach to water issues.
- WASH is critical and has important linkages to other development objectives.
- The GWS should adopt an inclusive, consultation process, promote flexible and coordinated implementation and encourage effective communication especially with the field, to share priorities and lessons learned.
- The GWS should facilitate a systems approach to better collect, manage, and apply massive amounts of data for decision support.