The initiative is based on three pillars that recognise the strategic importance of water: water for sustainable development; water for growth and stability; and good governance for water.

The strategic importance of water is illustrated by the fact that one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is devoted specifically to water: Goal 6 is to ensure the “availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. In fact, water is a key aspect of many of the SDGs (goals 1, 3, 4, 11, 12, 14 and 15 have an explicit reference to water; while goals 2, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 13 have an implicit reference to water) since it forms the basis of life on earth, is vital for socioeconomic development and is essential for biodiversity. Water was recognised as a fundamental human right by the UN General Assembly in July 2010 (A-RES-64-292); by the Human Rights Council in September 2010 (HRC Resolution 15-9); by the Arab Charter on Human Rights (which entered into force on March 15, 2008); and by the constitutions of a number of Arab states (Morocco in 2011, Tunisia and Egypt in 2014). This legal recognition guarantees the right of all people to equitable access to safe water as a basic human requirement, while also enhancing public participation in water management.

Sustainable water management is a key driver of economic activity, poverty alleviation and health, and a prerequisite for growth and stability. Poor water management, lack of good water governance and limited awareness contribute to water supply vulnerability and water pollution and are a source of conflicts that constrain growth and threaten both security and the water–energy–food–climate nexus.

Good water governance should ensure a mix of policies, principles and tools, such as water diplomacy; regional, transboundary and cross-border cooperation; integrated river basin planning and management; climate adaptation; public participation; accountability; transparency; subsidiarity; and appropriate decentralisation.


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Banner photos: Zouhayer Ahmadi, Mohammad Aljaradin