Remarks by Angel Gurría,
Paris, 17 May, 2016
(As prepared for delivery)
Dear Ambassador Markovic, Your Excellencies, Dear Deputy Director-General Engida, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to be taking part in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize Ceremony. This year marks the 20th anniversary of this prize; it is a unique event and one that combines three topics which are close to my heart: water, innovation and youth.
Water is essential for life, but it is also a key driver for sustainable growth and development and as such, it is a pillar of the post-2015 Development Agenda. The Sustainable Development Goals, which include of course SDG 6 on clean water and sanitation, are a great achievement. But at the same time, their implementation poses significant challenges for both developed and developing countries. And we must work together to address them.
Innovation is not only key in overcoming these challenges but it is also becoming critical in the way that we manage and use water. The OECD recognises the efforts made by governments, corporations and academics to develop new technologies that can contribute to water security.
But it is equally important to ensure that these new technologies will be widely diffused. This is why the OECD Principles on Water Governance encourage the promotion, adoption and implementation of practices such as pilot-testing, experimentation or social learning.
In addition, the OECD's work on eco-innovation argues that the capacity of countries to adopt and adapt innovation to local circumstances is a decisive factor. Exciting and competitive technologies are available today, for example: green roofs that can store storm water and minimise urban run-off and sewer overflow; and permeable pavements that will allow it to percolate through the ground.
To allow these technologies, however, to reach their full potential, new institutional arrangements for water governance and new business models to finance water-related investment are needed. Particularly since technology, policy, governance and finance are often intertwined.
In this respect, youth is essential in changing our water culture and in tackling current and future challenges. I am therefore thrilled to see, through initiatives such as this one, that the young generation consider water as an opportunity for research. I congratulate the nominees for exploring bold and practical responses to water-related challenges; and I strongly encourage our young innovators to persevere!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is a great opportunity to promote new ideas that can contribute to a better world and better lives. I am happy that the OECD, in partnership with Sweden and UNESCO, can host the French part of this initiative.
I will be at the Stockholm World Water Week in August, where the OECD is a key collaborative partner. I look forward to meeting you there, including the French laureates of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize.