Through the Regional Water Forum, an urgent call was made to position, protect and comprehensively manage water resources as fundamental engine for Central American development and social wellbeing.
Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 3 November 2017. The Regional Water Forum was held to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and commitments assumed by the Central American countries.
The forum was organised by the Honduran Government, through the Ministry of Energy, Natural Resources, Environment and Mines (MiAmbiente+), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Central American Commission on Environment and Development, which is the environmental body of the Central American Integration System.
In his inaugural address, MiAmbiente+ Secretary of State Jose Antonio Galdames lauded this opportunity to position and intensify regional, national and local processes of integrated water resource management and associated legislation in the Central American isthmus, as well as to share good practices and tools, and establish dialogue toward management and good governance of water resources with an eye to resolving present and future environmental challenges related to water, adaptation to climate change and reduction of disaster risk.
Speaking at the opening of the forum, Dr. Grethel Aguilar, Director of the IUCN Regional Office for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, emphasised that “Central America’s great water wealth is combined with unsustainable practices, pollution, the effects of climate change, and problems of availability and distribution. In compliance with country commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, the region has the task of guaranteeing supply of good quality water and sanitation for the entire population. Effective water management in Central America depends on the participation of all stakeholders, particularly dialogue and cooperation between countries, the private sector, and the voices of local communities and indigenous peoples”.
Given this panorama, the Regional Forum represented a space of reflection en route to the eighth World Water Forum, planned for March 2018 in Brazil, and an opportunity for the countries to share advances toward the SDGs. The event was attended by representatives of State agencies, international entities, academic institutions, the private sector, civil society organisations, indigenous peoples, Afrodescendants and local communities, as well as the media.
As mentioned in the IUCN document presented at the World Water Congress held this year in Cancun , the connections between Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Water and Sanitation) and the other goals are clear. Water distribution and management and sanitation is a prior requisite for putting an end to poverty and ensuring good health and food security, while at the same time enabling and strengthening results to guarantee access to affordable energy, inclusive industrialisation, security and the resilience of cities.
At Forum sessions, stakeholders and experts offered their outlooks on the region and internationally concerning vital issues for integrated water resource management, the link between water, energy, food and effective water governance. Along with the perspective of young people, gender considerations were incorporated, as well as an intercultural vision of the different water use and management processes.
Water resources were analysed as engine for cooperation and for the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, regional agreements, programs and projects.
The activity was supported by the International Climate Initiative of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety of Germany, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and the United States Agency for International Development.
 Mark Smith and Dr. Torkil Jønch Clausen. “Revitalising IWRM for the 2030 Agenda”, UICN. Documento informativo Panel de Alto Nivel, Congreso Mundial del Agua, Cancún, México, 2017.