Amid Covid-19 Turmoil, Good News for Global Water Management

The W12 Congress, due to take place at the CTICC in May 2020, has been postponed and the new dates will be confirmed soon.  Meanwhile, the good news is that UNESCO will now share vital W12 water management information and updates for cities around the world.

W12 Congress partner, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization)’s website will be the key ‘go to’ site for cities to access information about how they can better manage and sustain water resources.   By hosting content aggregated by the W12 Congress and by encouraging dialogue and information sharing, UNESCO has introduced a key intervention in the critical need to create global collaboration in order to mitigate the effects of climate change and to avoid water crises in the future.

The UNESCO/W12 Congress water platform will be available to all stakeholders in the water sector – from national and local governance leaders, civil society representatives, researchers, urban planners, utility operators and service providers to technical, academic and financial institutions.  The forum will act as a reference point for all to exchange experience, learning and best practice protocols.

Chairman and W12 Congress organiser Rene Frank (SOS NPO) says: “Vital information will be shared on the UNESCO platform with every single member country in the UN.  This is a major step forward in our unified goal of protecting and sustaining water for everyone in the future.  This intervention is also a demonstration of how true partnerships should work because UNESCO, as a W12 Congress partner, will now help facilitate learning and ensure that all updated information is made available to those who need that information most – and in real time.”

Director of Water for Human Settlements at UNESCO, Alexandros Makarigaki adds: “W12 Congress and its partners are striving to achieve what is needed on an international scale – a protocol for major cities in their management and sustainability of water resources.  UNESCO, through its platform, can help educate and reach the people who need this information in order to protect water as a precious commodity.  By starting this global dialogue on water, we can work together and address the issues, alleviate problems and start tackling the challenges head on.”

Lead author for the Water Protocol and President of the Institute for Ecological Civilization, organizing partner for the W12 Congress, Philip Clayton, noted that technical guidelines exist. “Experts have access to thousands of pages of standards. But no peer-to-peer network exists for city leaders who urgently need help when water crises arise. The W12-UNESCO partnership will bring water solutions to the cities that need them most.”

To date, a critical element of the W12 Congress process involved a massive collaboration between academia, business and technology at an intensive three-day conference that took place in Cape Town in January.  During the conference, key directives for effective water management, protection and distribution were debated at length.  The main outcomes and recommendations that were agreed upon at the conference and which will be made available not only in a Framework Document but now also on the UNESCO website, were:

  • To use and learn from the experiences of seriously water challenged cities, and especially Cape Town, in order to inform and guide future thinking;
  • To collaborate and, by this, they mean not just by talking to different stakeholders but by actively working together, as this will be essential in the ongoing challenge of sustaining water security.  Water management is complex and often carved up into silos; the experts from government, civil society, NGOs and business must now work together in solving the challenges of the future;
  • To change the way water is managed now; i.e. to change the political, economic, environmental, and social models of governance in order to mitigate the dangers of compromised water supply in the future.

The W12 Congress will now take place in Cape Town either in late 2020 or early 2021, when city delegations and dignitaries from over 20 international cities will meet in Cape Town to discuss and debate water management protocols.  W12 is working with government, civil society, and all stakeholders to create the framework for the first ‘Major Cities Best Practices Water Protocol’.  A key intervention in this process will be the regularly updated and comprehensive sharing of information on the UNESCO website.



  1. HP-WINS is a QGIS based platform that provides the opportunity to store and present data, deposit all kinds of information / knowledge outputs such as books, manuals, presentations, guidelines etc. and provides a networking opportunity for groups that share a common interest . UNESCO is currently upgrading the platform with new modules. The idea is that current look of WINS will be customised to include the W12 case (in the sense of logos etc in the front page) and discuss with the interested colleagues on what exactly will be required – eg for when drones are needed to be provided, etc.
  2. In 1970, the United Nations identified three megacities. This number increased to 31 in 2016. According to projections, 10 more cities will enter this category by 2030, all located in the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDC). These urban centres share common issues related to water and its urban components: drinking water, wastewater, rainwater and recycled water. Megacities’ populations, their concentrated use of goods and services as well as the dynamics of their territorial expansion, amplify the consequences of water-related risks (floods, diseases, water shortages, pollution of aquatic environments and soils, etc.).

W12 Congress

  1. The W12 congress will feed directly into the UNESCO event in December 1-4th 2020 on megacities at UNESCO’s HQ in Paris.
  1. The aim of the W12 Congress is to work with government, civil society, and all stakeholders to create the framework for the first ‘Major Cities Best Practices Water Protocol’.
  1. By 2050 almost two billion people living in cities will suffer water shortages, as the demand for water increases by up to 70% (Source:  World Bank). Extreme water stress can threaten national security. The urgent bilateral need to work together, locally and internationally, in order to ensure the future of the world’s water is evident.
  1. The W12 Congress public-facing sessions will be held on 18th and 19th May 2020 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Cape Town, South Africa. Ministers from several countries as well as mayoral delegations from global cities facing water challenges will attend, along with top international CEOs for the water industry and UNESCO Directors. Arnold Schwarzenegger will be a W12 Congress keynote speaker.  Other key role players include:
  • IDA – International Desalination Association (Global)
  • UNESCO (Global)
  • SIWI – Stockholm International Water Week (Sweden)
  • IWA – International Water Bank (Dubai)
  • WB – World Bank (Global)
  • AWS – Alliance for Water Stewardship (UK)