You are Secretary General of the French Water Academy. What is the role of this institution?
The French Water Academy is a unique structure with a multidisciplinary, and multi sector approach. It is a space for reflection and propositions of all kinds to improve resource management and water usage both in France and abroad. The French Water Academy today has 150 members that bring together their knowledge and expertise to address the subject of water freely and in all of its complexities. The French Water Academy offers a platform for information sharing and for scientific monitoring to better integrate water, land management, and quality of life in the framework of sustainable development.
Its main areas of focus are:
– The implementation of the Right to Water, as well as the concept of the right to sanitation,
– The management of shared waters, particularly transborder aquifer systems,
– Supplying water and access to sanitation for populations in crisis situations: either natural or technological disasters, fragile or internally disrupted states, armed conflicts…,
– The relationship between water and health,
– The importance of the cultural dimension in water management.
How do you plan to bring together the work of the French Water Academy and the Fondation Chirac?
Since I am retired, my voluntary role as Secretary General of the Water Academy, allows me to stay in regular contact with diverse, thriving, professional circles (the public sector, businesses, associations…). We live in a time when important changes take place rapidly, at the national, European and international levels. This role allows me to stay constantly up to date; which is invaluable to me as I guide the Fondation Chirac in the area of access to water and sanitation.
The Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) for water should be achieved in certain regions, but delays are accumulating in the world’s poorest regions. What conclusions can we draw from work being done at the international level?
The Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) on water are unfortunately not among the top priorities. Access to water falls seventh, and access to sanitation is even further down the list. According to current statistics, notable progress has been made in a fair number of developing and emerging countries, on all continents, by improving water supply to populations experiencing a large demographic increase and rapid urbanization. This allows us to hope that the MGDs will be met. On the other hand, access to sanitation, which is technically and financially more difficult has fallen behind pretty much everyhere and the MGDs will most likely not be met in this area unless significant efforts are made.
How does the Fondation Chirac fit in to this network? What are its main projects?
In 2010, the Fondation Chirac joined to the French Water Partnership (PFE) that brings together different French actors in this area. The same year, the Fondation also joined the World Water Council that organizes a World Water Forum every three years. The Forum attracts hundreds of thousands of participants of all nationalities making it the most important global event on natural resource management and water usage. Following Marrakesh (1997), The Hague (2000), Kyoto (2003), Mexico City (2006), and Istanbul (2009), the sixth World Water Forum will be hosted by France and the City of Marseille in March 2012. Preparations are already underway and the Fondation Chirac will be present to advocate for access to water and sanitation.
What are your goals for the Fondation’s program on access to water?
Headed by a former President of the French Republic, the Fondation Chirac, recognized to be of public utility, has the ability to play a significant role in the area of water by increasing visibility and echoing projects that are already underway; by supporting exemplary field projects that could be adapted on a larger scale, by contributing to the elaboration of joint programs, and by giving visibility to the cause or through international advocacy. The opportunities are endless!