Sunil Ghorawat
September 1, 2016

This August, leaders and experts in the water, climate and development communities have gathered in Stockholm to discuss how water can enable the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Under the theme Water for Sustainable Growth, some 3,000 people from over 120 countries are meeting for the 26th annual World Water Week. With water crises being listed as one of the top global risks in the coming years by the World Economic Forum, and a rapidly growing world population putting pressure on scarce water resources, seeking solutions to the world's many complex water challenges is becoming ever more urgent for the researchers, policy-makers, and representatives of civil society and the private sector meeting in Stockholm.

Opening the Week, Torgny Holmgren, Executive Director of the organizer, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said: "Without reliable access to water, almost no Sustainable Development Goal will be achieved. To make that happen, we must ensure water's centrality to the entire Agenda 2030. This will show the power water has a connector."

"Water connects not only sectors, but also nations, communities and different actors. Water can be the unifying power, the enabler for progress in both Agenda 2030 and the Paris climate agreement", said Holmgren.

The Mayor of Stockholm, Karin Wanngård, underlined the role cities need to play in realizing the development agenda. "Cities represent a large portion of future growth. We have the job growth, the universities, the creative ideas. We also face the biggest emissions, the social problems, and housing shortage. Our participation in the struggle for sustainable solutions is key for global success. And that means a growing responsibility, a moral responsibility towards future generations and their ability to live in cities where it is possible to work, live in security, breathe the air and drink the water."

Addressing the opening session, Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström reinforced the message that water is a connector and an enabler in realizing the SDGs. "Successful realization of Goal 6 of the 2030 Agenda will underpin progress across many of the other goals, particularly on nutrition, child health, education, gender equality, healthy cities and healthy water ecosystems and oceans."

The Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Angel Gurría, said that water, from having been a subject that was rarely discussed with urgency, has come to the front and center of international deliberations. "Water now has the place it needs to have in international priorities", said Gurría.

As societies look for economic development, it is becoming increasingly clear that sustainable growth is only possible with inclusiveness. As a critical resource, water connects us all. Development in water management is essential for any sustained growth. Equitable allocation of water to different conflicting demands amongst agriculture, industry, society and environment has to be a bedrock of development.

Equally, development cannot be made by compromising environment. Growth has to be on the twin pillars of development and sustainability. Those societies that recognize this truth will be able to provide better opportunities for their people. Without sustainable development in water management, there can be no real development.

Sunil Ghorawat Sunil Ghorawat is Editor-in-Chief, EverythingAboutWater magazine.

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