Interview with Loïc Fauchon, President of the World Water Council
Loïc Fauchon, could you tell us what makes the upcoming World Water Forum in Dakar unique?
This Forum differs from previous editions for a number of reasons. For one thing, it’s being held in sub-Saharan Africa, a part of the world where water access remains inadequate and inequitable. African communities, who have a major stake in the issue, will be able to bring to the table their familiarity with the field and its realities, allowing for a much more hands-on, pragmatic approach. The Forum is also being held in the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 shockwave, which highlighted the importance of water not only for preventive hygiene but also for food self-sufficiency, something that was made clear during the extended closures of some ports and many borders.
This Forum bears the tagline “the Forum of concrete responses”. Will it deliver on that promise? What kind of responses do you hope to see?
After the Forum of Solutions in Marseille in 2012, we and our Senegalese colleagues decided that Dakar would be the Forum of Responses: “responses” being the application of solutions in the field and among populations. Because it is these responses that can improve the day-to-day life of populations most in need. So long as we remain fiercely determined to move from talk to action, we will succeed in bringing these responses to the fore.
In the past you have said that “water is political”. What do you mean by that?
Yes, for over a decade we have been hammering home the idea that water access is ultimately a matter of political decisions—of national and local leaders making it a real priority through laws, regulations and budgets that serve to safeguard water resources, while also ensuring that they are shared sustainably and, above all, equitably.
A Heads of State and Government Meeting will be held at the Forum. What might this meeting yield for water and sanitation security?
The presence of heads of state and governments at the Forum is nothing new. This time, given that Senegal will be chairing the African Union and that President Macky Sall has expressed a will to act, our call for strong, tangible commitments on water and sanitation will undoubtedly resonate all the more loudly.
How does the Forum tie into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and Goal 6 specifically? What role might the Forum play leading up to the International Water Conference at the United Nations in March 2023?
The Dakar Forum is one step—without a doubt the most important one—on the road to March 2023. If responses are delivered in Dakar, that will be our best proof that going forward, water has a new role to play in promoting peace and development.
Any final thoughts to conclude?
For years the World Water Council has been working to drive home two strong priorities. The first is that the international community—every government, every human community—must safeguard this resource and ensure that it is used fairly: that is, equitably and economically. The second follows from the first: the collective and individual right to water is a self-evident human right which must be respected and enforced universally for the survival of the planet. That is what we are fighting for, peacefully but purposefully.