Editorial by Nicolas Sarkozy

President of the French Republic

I am particularly happy that France and Marseille are hosting the 6th World Water Forum in March 2012. It will be a crucial rendez-vous, for access to water is an essential problem for our planet’s future. There will be no sustainable development while the question of water remains unsolved.

The time for a solution has come for water, as it has for sanitation. From now on, we have to apply concrete measures and make firm commitments. These commitments should be made on a voluntary basis by players of all categories – governments, parliaments, international organizations, businesses, local authorities, and non-governmental organizations.

I expect the Marseille Forum to provide significant progress in three domains: effective access to water and sanitation, cross-border cooperation and increasing involvement of local authorities.

We are well aware of the shocking figures concerning access to water and sanitation throughout the world. They are an indication of the extent of the efforts which remain to be accomplished. The year 2010 has been an essential stage in the increasing awareness of the needs since the United Nations recognized access to water and sanitation as a basic human right. To be able to translate a right into effective access means succeeding in mobilizing financing. The Forum should be the occasion for envisaging the introduction of concrete initiatives to support the aim of universal access to water and sanitation, consistent with the Millenium Development Goals.

As far as cross-border water is concerned, France became the 22nd State to adhere to the United Nations convention on the use of international water courses. We must make sure that we promote this text for it is an incentive for the prudent management of water resources which are shared between several countries.

But this step is the first of many. Various forms of cooperation should be developed on this basis and they could be highlighted during the Forum. For what is at stake through cooperation of this sort is peace between peoples.

Finally, as far as local authorities are concerned, we must promote their presence in the management of water and sanitation services as close as possible to the level of the citizen. This is already the case in a number of countries, particularly in Europe including France and this system has already proven its effectiveness. Furthermore, in terms of international cooperation, local authorities may carry out their own actions of solidarity by using innovative methods of financing. The Mediterranean Forum will be the occasion to imagine others and draw attention to them.

I look forward to seeing you in March 2012 in Marseille, this superb Mediterranean city open as always to the world and which is very well aware of the immense value of water.

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