Every three years since 1997, the World Water Forum calls upon imagination, innovation, skills and know-how to advance their cause. The sixth edition of this international meeting will take place in Marseille on March 12, and will work to establish concrete solutions to address the triple challenge of population growth, climate change and pressure on natural resources. The Forum, a symbol of cooperation and openness, welcomes representatives from politics (local and national governments) as well as civil society (NGOs, researchers, students …): more than 140 organizations and 600 ministerial delegations will be attending the 400 hours of discussions and debates. Organizers have added an innovation this year by creating a Solution for Water platform which has been put online in order to receive technical, political, financial, and legal contributions from anyone worried about the future of water. There are 12 Priorities for Action linked with water problems that have been selected by the organizers of the Forum to guide the work. Each of these priorities are translated into targets, in other words, into concrete and achievable objectives that are realistic with defined time frames. A highlight this year is field projects and making real progress: the Forum of Marseille will not settle for simple declarations of intent.
On this occasion, the Office for Science and Technology (Chicago section) is organizing in collaboration with the Water for Food Institute (University of Nebraska) a Franco-American meeting during the Forum, on Tuesday, March 13, from 16:00 to 17:30. This meeting will aim to strengthen links between the scientific communities of both countries and encourage new partnerships. Recognized experts are expected from both the American (USDA, USGS, universities …) and from the French (CNRS, ONEMA, BRGM, IRSTEA …) sides. Our office also coordinated the participation of two U.S. policymakers in the Forum. Both are water specialists in the Midwest: Susan Hedman (Regional Administrator of EPA) and David Naftzger (Executive Director of the Council of Great Lakes Governors). Susan Hedman will attend a high-level roundtable entitled "green economy and green growth" on the morning of March 13. On Thursday she will present the agreement signed between the U.S. and Canada on water quality in the Great Lakes. David Naftzger meanwhile will be involved in "The Local and Regional Authorities Process" organized by the World Water Council, The Regions United/FOGAR and the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD). This panel looks to improve cooperation between sub-national actors for the prevention of conflicts related to the use of shared water resources.
These actions and this meeting are part of a long-term perspective: two Franco-American events on the theme of water management and climate change have already taken place. One meeting took place in May 2010 at Purdue (IN) to initiate collaborative projects between French and American scientists on water issues, agriculture and climate change. The other event, in July 2011 in Montpellier, focused on evaluating the work done and promoting these projects to potential investors.