The two day conference on water cooperation ended with clear declaration of intent and future course of actions to be implemented by Hisaar Foundation and other players in the water sector.
The focus of the conference proceedings involving the key stakeholders generated a series of actionable recommendations from the academia, business and corporate community, NGOs, media and the donor community. The second day of conference was devoted to sessions on academia’s role in the water sector, merits of public private partnership, harnessing the youth focus on water issues, advent of new technologies for the water usage and conservation, and the closing plenary attended by over 400 participants.
At the conclusion of the closing session, the Karachi Declaration on Water Initiatives was formulated:
We, the delegates, recognize that there are multiple values that a society seeks to realize from water, beyond it’s obvious economic and health benefits. Water’s significance to culture, religion, identity, aesthetics and sense of community is often overlooked in water policy. The emerging water cooperation paradigm must reflect these multiple values.
There is a dire need to develop human resources in the water sector to engage with, and realize the range of societal values.
Whereas there are good facilities for training water-related engineers, there is an urgent need for greater investment in water-related research and instruction through the social natural sciences.
This multi-stakeholder gathering calls for re-centering equity, access and climate adaptation as the core values in water management. Therefore procedural and distributive transparency and justice in the allocation of water should be ensured. Likewise, the right to access water to satisfy multiple values of the community.
Furthermore, a move away from a normal view of water towards a management paradigm that puts a premium on planning inwards from environment and conflict-ridden extremes.
The conference unanimously recognizes intimate synergies between the environment and development. It also recognizes that poor and vulnerable people are often the main beneficiaries of the ecological services of water, therefore to ignore the ecological value of water is to undervalue the benefits and services they derive from water such as fisheries, fuel, wetlands, forests and habitats.
Cooperation across international, provincial and local boundaries to resolve water-related issues is the only way forward to improving equity and access. The conference recognizes the important linkages amongst the government, the civil society and Public-Private Partnerships.
Media needs to be sensitized to encourage rational discourse, especially in the realm of benefit sharing, inter- and intra-trans-boundary debates. Civil society must emerge as an institution providing a forward looking posture in the form of think-tanks. Effective cooperation must ensure sharing the range of benefits associated with water. We believe that women are the most potent force in the water sector, who need to realize their true potential. Cooperation in water is both a prerequisite and an imperative, and must be predicated upon principles of equity and justice.
The vision forward for all lies in translating the tremendous knowledge and learning that took place during the previous two days into a viable and actionable agenda.
The Karachi Declaration on Water Initiatives also announced several actionable steps:
- Formation of Water Cell in the P&D Department to take up the issues of Sindh, with Hisaar Foundation serving as advisers.
- Formation of a forum of universities to work on water related initiatives in conjunction with Hisaar Foundation, who will also act as its Secretariat.
- Partnership on Media between Interflow Group of Companies and Hisaar Foundation to promote and create awareness regarding water and sanitation issues using the reach of the media.
- Revival of the Karachi Water Partnership by Hisaar Foundation and formation of an advisory body.
- Offer by FPCCI to lend its facilities and support for any work related to water and agreement to join hands with Hisaar Foundation in influencing the government to depoliticize the issues and focus on benefiting the communities.
The last day of the conference was addressed by Mr. Tasneem Siddiqui, Chairman, Saiban; Mr Mirza Qamar Beg, Visiting Fellow, Cambridge University; Ms. Khawar Mumtaz, Chairperson NCSW; Arif Ahmed Khan, Additional Chief Secretary, Planning & Development, Government of Sindh; Prof, Sarosh Lodhi, Dean NED; Dr. Pervaiz Amir, Director PWP; Zaffar Sabri, Acting CEO, PPAF; Dr. Danish Mustafa, Assistant Professor, Kings College, UK; Ms. Simi Kamal, Chair, Academic Committee, Hisaar Foundation; Zohair Ashir, Chairperson, Hisaar Foundation; Tofiq Mooraj Pasha, Governor, Hisaar Foundation and Sono Khangharani, CEO, Hisaar Foundation.