Local and regional authorities call for decentralization of water management

Local governments came together at the 5th Conference of Local and Regional Authorities, held in Brasilia during the 8th World Water Forum, calling for a decentralized approach to financing and management of water resources.

ICLEI participated in the 8th World Water Forum bringing its experience in supporting local governments in promoting integrated local development structures, participatory planning processes and tools. More than 20 representatives from 11 cities in 4 countries participated. Local and regional authorities engaged in discussions on local governance and water sharing, financing for basic sanitation infrastructure, equitable access to water, water scarcity, adaptation and resilience.

Local governments focused on the need to foster stronger and more diversified partnerships to better coordinate complex water governance systems. Also, the importance of a multilevel alignment to promote general access to water, and greater coordination between federal, state and municipal entities, was highlighted. On sanitation, the debate focused on the current demand for infrastructure investments requiring solid and efficient solutions with commitment from the highest levels of government. It is also necessary to consider the adaptation of the sanitation infrastructure to meet the expanding demand in the urban environment.

Local and regional leaders also shared how they have coped with water challenges. The Municipality of Teresina, a Member of the ICLEI Network, presented the results of the Lagoas do Norte Program, which aims to provide integrated solutions to the problems of drainage and flood control, sanitation: collection and treatment of sewage and improvement of facilities in low-income households. The Mayor of Quelimane Municipal Council (Mozambique), Manuel de Araújo, Member of ICLEI Africa, spoke about the challenges his municipality faces in water supply and sanitation, and how, through the establishment of partnerships, they created the first municipal water treatment company in Mozambique. ICLEI also worked in collaboration with the World Water Council and other partners on the publication Start with Water: Putting water on the local action agendas to support global change. Released at the conference, this document shares best practices on water management at the local level.

Following the conference, Local and Regional Authorities launched a Call to Action for the Implementation of the Local and Regional Agenda on Water and Sanitation. This document offers recommendations on what local and regional governments can do to build healthier and more prosperous cities and territories and seeks to strengthen the capacity of decision makers and leaders to address local water and sanitation challenges. Among the recommendations, local authorities propose to promote integrated water management practices and to put sanitation and access to quality water at the top of the political agenda. This demands legislation that allows fair, efficient and sustainable use of water resources, stimulates national governments in providing funding resources for basic sanitation infrastructure, and promotes urban and water resilience by integrating nature based solutions into planning.
The 5th Conference of Local and Regional Authorities was held by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, World Water Council, the Federal Affairs Office Secretariat of the Brazilian Presidency, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), the World Alliance of Partnerships between Water Operators – GWOPA/UM-Habitat and the National Confederation of Municipalities (CNM). 

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