9th World Water Forum: lowered ambitions

The 9th World Water Forum is organized from March 21 to 25 in Dakar. The Coalition Eau (Water Coalition), which Human Dignity is part of, is mobilizing to share its solutions with the global water community. However, a few days before the opening, it is clear that the ambitions of the Forum in terms of political mobilization and inclusive participation have been revised downwards.

Organized a year late, due to the pandemic, the World Water Forum (WWF) is taking place for the first time in sub-Saharan Africa, at the initiative of Senegal, host country of this edition and co-organizer with the World Water Council.

This Forum has raised many hopes. The ambition was to mark a break with previous forums, through a renewed framework for action and large-scale political mobilization around two summits of world and African heads of state (extraordinary summit of the African Union). The World Water Council and Senegal also ensured that they wanted to give an important place to civil society in the programmatic and political work.


Despite the declared will of the organizers to promote the participation of civil society, this comes up against multiple obstacles  : registration and exhibition fees that are inaccessible for many associations including Human Dignity, the very late setting up (at 2 weeks of the Forum) of a financial support mechanism, the lack of spokespersons at the Opening or in the high-level political segments.

There are also travel difficulties linked to the pandemic, for an event organized in a face-to-face format only, and which should logically experience less mobilization of all categories of actors.

Several international NGOs have been involved in programmatic work for several years to put their priorities on the agenda of the Forum. However, partners with limited means, smaller associations, representatives of communities and users will hardly be represented.

Efforts have however been made towards young people, with the establishment of a low-cost youth rate, which has enabled the forum to be opened up to world youth .

But the tendency is that, from edition to edition, the place of civil society evolves randomly within the FME. This lack of inclusiveness only weakens the results and credibility of the GEF process as a whole.


While the organization of two summits of world and African heads of state was announced, these will not take place. The lack of communication around the political aspect of the Forum foreshadowed such a failure, no news having been communicated about these events since the beginning of the preparatory process.

While a few Heads of State or their representatives are invited to the Opening Ceremony, the individual speeches have nothing to do with a real political summit which would have allowed collective negotiations and decisions which are essential in the face of the water crisis . At the current rate, 107 countries are not on track to ensure sustainable water management or universal access to water and sanitation in 2030.

Is it an organizational problem or a lack of political will? Be that as it may, the lack of interest shown by the decision-makers in this event places the Forum in a dead end: we note, once again, its difficulties in emerging as a real high-level meeting and in advancing the agenda. international policy for water and sanitation.


Meeting the challenge of sustainable management and universal access to water is not impossible, but it requires urgent political action .

Since there is currently no space where States can come together, negotiate and coordinate their efforts in the field of water, it is time to fill this political vacuum.

With the United Nations Water Conference in New York a year from now, the first intergovernmental conference dedicated to water since 1977, we are calling for the creation of an intergovernmental committee dedicated to water at the level of the UN , the only truly legitimate space where each country has a voice. This global framework should have the mandate to regularly bring states together, mobilize their political will and accelerate and coordinate efforts to ensure the implementation and monitoring of international goals.

The involvement of civil society organizations in international conferences must be secured through institutionalized participation mechanisms , as is the case for UN mechanisms (ECOSOC).


At present, the WWF remains the world's largest gathering of water stakeholders. It is an arena for multi-actor exchanges on water and sanitation issues.

Many NGOs in the sector want to promote their actions there, present their proposals and solutions, meet international partners and develop their networks. The Water Coalition is thus mobilizing to promote the participation of French, African and international civil society, with the Butterfly Effect, a global movement of NGOs/CSOs. The associations will also share their requests to the States during meetings with the decision-makers present.

It is also an opportunity to organize activities with local, national and regional civil society: Coalition Eau will organize a regional workshop on the sidelines of the Forum, bringing together civil society groups from 10 West African countries. and the Center. It will also be mobilized at the Alternative World Water Forum, organized in parallel with the official Forum.


  • Find the complete schedule of mobilizations and activities of Coalition Eau and its members  here
  • Read our joint report on the rights to water and sanitation in Senegal - in French here
  • The Coalition's presentation of the 9th FME, here
  • The Coalition position paper on World Water Forum in French here
  • Social networks: follow the activities of Coalition Eau and its members on Twitter and Facebook @CoalitionEau and @HumanDty