Slovenia and European Commission open the conference on international partnerships and investments in water
Today marked the opening of the online conference entitled “Water and Beyond: EU transformative approaches for international partnerships”, hosted by the European Commission Directorate-General for International Partnerships and the Government of Slovenia, with the support of Portugal, which is currently holding the EU Council presidency. At the introductory panel, State Secretary Stanislav Raščan stressed that water needs to be systematically and fully integrated into all aspects and facets of the Union's external action. During its Council presidency in the second half of this year, Slovenia will continue efforts aimed at strengthening EU water diplomacy.
In his address, the State Secretary stated that water-related challenges are often complex and entangled with other issues, and therefore called for solutions based on a fair, comprehensive and inclusive approach. It is the only way to build healthy and resilient societies, make economies greener, and to prevent conflicts. He added that there is more room for EU action in water diplomacy as regards enhanced inclusive water management, cooperation, mediation, and support for the prevention of water-related conflicts. Furthermore, the EU could play a more prominent role in building post-conflict recovery by taking water-related issues into account in peace processes. Water and its role in external relations are one of the priorities of Slovenia’s upcoming Council presidency.
Together with State Secretary Raščan, European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič also took part in the opening panel. In his speech, he highlighted the vital nature of water for women and children and for reduction of inequalities. Improved access to water and sanitation is directly linked to an increased rate of school attendance, especially among girls. The EU is a global leader in terms of investment in water projects, with more than EUR 2.6 billion allocated in the last financial period, but there remains scope for further efforts in this direction, including within the framework of the “Team Europe” programme.
The four-day event will deliver insights into how to strengthen transboundary cooperation, build broader partnerships and trigger water investments in support of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. The event’s opening day will focus on discussing equal opportunities and human development. On the second day, participants will debate water cooperation, governance and diplomacy as instruments for ensuring peace and security, mechanisms to mobilise investments, and the relationship between water and climate change. On the third day, the event will bring an opportunity to examine policies and measures for capacity building in the water sector.
The conference will close on 21 January and its key speakers include the Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Senegalese Minister of Water and Sanitation, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, and the UNECE Executive Secretary.
More information on the conference Water and Beyond: EU transformative approaches for international partnerships.