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UNESCO Etxea presents the basque initiative to finance the millennium development goals at the alliance for water conference

On 9th September in Zaragoza there was a conference organised by the Alliance for Water and by the French entity psEAU on the solidarity finance mechanisms for water and sanitation. It was attended by representatives from NGOs, local and regional Governments and water operators who are or wish to put into place instruments to achieve, through water consumption in developed countries, additional finance to improve access to water and sanitation in developing countries.

This type of initiative can be very varied with one of the pioneering initiatives being that developed in France by various consortiums which devote a maximum of 1% of their budgets to cooperation, grouped around the psEAU platform. There are also other countries like Switzerland, or regional government like Wallonia in Belgium or Emilia Romagna in Italy, which have started up this type of mechanism, some of them as voluntary citizen options and in other cases as another tax included in the water bill.

Water operators or managers from various countries are also performing solidarity initiatives, like for example the Dutch company Vitens y Evides through a voluntary citizen contribution through the water bill or like Consorcio de Aguas de Vitoria-Gasteiz AMVISA water consortium devoting a percentage of the budget and a percentage of workers' hours. Representatives from these two bodies also presented these experiences during the conference.

For the Basque Country, Josu Sanz, Head of UNESCO Etxeas Environment Department, presented the Basque initiative to support the Millennium Development Goals. This initiative, developed by the Basque Water Agency (URA) with the collaboration of UNESCO Etxea, seeks to devote 5% of the Water Tax to water and sanitation projects carried out by the United Nations, spacifically to finance and support projects to improve the governance of the water resources managed by the UNDP in Sub-Saharan Africa, the region which is furthest away from the water and sanitation MDG.

This conference analysed all of these different experiences, but with the common denominator of supporting from multilateralism the attainment of access to water and sanitation through funds collected from water consumption in developed countries. The positive aspects and the potential of these mechanisms were evaluated which go beyond mere financial support as they also seek to make the citizens in developed countries more aware and also build bridges towards North-South collaboration between non-State actors.

The good results from this conference lead us to think that this is the beginning of a working synergy between all of the organisations at the meeting.

To round off, various of the participants (Alliance for Water, PsEAU and the FAN initiative managed by WATER AID), presented the Goals of each of the Alliances within the objective of the Human Right to Water Week at the Expo Zaragoza 2008 FARO Citizen Initiative Pavilion.

More Information:

Conference programme

Alliance for Water

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With the support of
Bizkaiko Foru Aldundia / Diputación Foral de Bizkaia

Eusko Jaurlaritza / Gobierno Vasco