Bern, Press releases, 16.03.2009

From 16 to 22 March 2009, some 20,000 participants from all over the world will be meeting in Istanbul for the 5th World Water Forum with the objective of seeking solutions to the water problems of the 21st century. The Swiss delegation will be led by Martin Dahinden, Director-General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Bruno Oberle, Director of the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).

Organized every three years since 1997 by the World Water Council, this year’s edition will take place under the title of “Bridging Divides for Water”. Ministers, mayors, parliamentarians, specialists from the water community, representatives of the civilian population and from the economic sector will be gathering in the Turkish city, i.e., on the geographic crossroads between Europe and Asia, in an attempt to build bridges between North and South, between rich and poor, and between modern technology and traditional water cultures. The Forum provides a global platform for cooperation among the various actors in the domain of water, delving into themes such as water scarcity and climate change.  

In addition to the SDC and the FOEN, the Swiss delegation will also include representatives from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), and the Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG). The delegation will present six core messages at the Istanbul Forum: 

  • Politicians, the economic sector, and civil society must undertake decisive action towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
  • Access to safe water and basic sanitation are a fundamental human need and a human right.
  • Access by the poor to water, basic sanitation and irrigation is at the centre of integrated water resource management and a key for the protection of the environment.
  • Protection of the ecosystem is the best way to ensure sufficient amounts of good-quality water and to reduce water-related natural disasters.
  • Water specialists must receive sufficient, practical information on climate change.
  • Sustainable water management should be part of both agricultural strategy and economic policy strategy.  

The Swiss Fountain of Experience 

Switzerland will be hosting an information stand at the World Water Exhibition, an important side-event to the Forum. Under the title of “The Swiss Fountain of Experience”, the stand will show how Switzerland works together with its partners in fostering sustainable use of water resources, while advocating and implementing the principle of integrated water management.  

The first World Water Forum was held in Morocco. Subsequent editions took place in The Hague (2000), Kyoto (2003) and Mexico City (2006). 

Further information:
Julie Bergamin, SDC,, +41 76 543 33 01
François Münger, SDC, franç, +41 79 820 03 18
Media Service of the FOEN, +41 31 322 90 00

Further information:

Official Website of the World Water Forum
5th World Water Forum 2009 in Istanbul: Switzerland’s Commitment to combating the Water Crisis
Water: Inalienable right – exhaustible resource

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