The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution in December 2016 to designate a new decade focused on global water challenges. In 2018 SFU launched the International Water Decade Alliance, a Canada-wide alliance of research institutions and related organizations to jointly host the secretariat for the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development.”
Hosting such a global mechanism in Canada will help create new international research networks, capitalizing on the strength of Canadian water researchers and bring together operating funds for the secretariat from multiple sources, while attracting new research funds. This new decade aligns with some of the highest priorities for Canada’s foreign policy and development agenda, namely, Feminist International Assistance Policy, climate change adaptation and enhanced resilience worldwide, support for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and upholding human rights worldwide (which include access to safe water and adequate sanitation). A number of Australian institutions have also joined IWDA, given the similarities in Canadian and Australian policy objectives around water-related SDGs.
While a leadership role for Canada allows it to engage in water security issues around the world, it will also facilitate the implementation of the water-related SDGs within Canada and particularly focus on drinking water challenges for Canadian indigenous communities.
The International Water Decade Alliance will undertake the following core functions:
- Serve as a platform for global dialogue on water challenges that facilitates exchange of ideas, experiences, and innovative concepts. It would generate new knowledge and synthesize existing scientific research to provide evidence-based guidance to the UN Member States.
- Support the UN Member States through development of capacity of individuals and institutions to understand and respond to their respective water challenges.
- Create networks of individuals and organizations that are committed to achieving universal water security, including development of communities of practice.
- Engage and inspire the general public through awareness raising about global, regional, national, and local water challenges, and providing tools and means for responding to water challenges.