OECD Water Days - Launch of the Toolkit on Recommendations on Water, 22 March 2021


Remarks by Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, OECD

Paris, 22 March 2021

Excellencies, Dear Friends,

I am delighted to celebrate World Water Day with you and to kick-off this first edition of the OECD Water Days.

This year’s event has a particular meaning for me. It is a testimony of the significant journey that we collectively embarked upon, 15 years ago, when I joined the OECD as Secretary-General. At the time, I insisted that water – together with migration and health – was one of the core topics where the OECD should do more. I knew that water is a strategic, crosscutting issue and a key driver of sustainable and inclusive growth. The COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have confirmed that water is central to humanity and its wellbeing, and necessary for resilient communities.

The Toolkit on Recommendations on Water that I am launching today crystallises country-specific evidence and policy guidance, which can expedite action and convergence towards international good practices for water management.

The OECD has been working hard to support better water policies for better lives, in line with the 2030 Agenda. We focus on the environment, urban development, agriculture and the social dimensions of water management. And we are also active beyond OECD membership, in Europe (including Eastern and South-East Europe), the Caucasus, Asia (including Central Asia) and the Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Let me highlight three important milestones in this journey:

First, in March 2013, we set up the OECD Water Governance Initiative, a multi-stakeholder platform and policy forum to scale-up governance responses to water challenges. The Initiative was instrumental in assessing governance gaps hindering policy reform, and in shaping the OECD Principles on Water Governance, endorsed by over 170 stakeholders and 42 countries at ministerial level in June 2015.

Second, in 2017, we set up the Roundtable on Financing Water, a joint initiative with the government of the Netherlands, the World Bank and the World Water Council. The Roundtable was successful in gathering intelligence and data that support the deployment of enabling environments that are conducive to water-related investment and contribute to water security and sustainable growth.

Third, the policy guidance from our work on water is captured in the OECD Council Recommendation on Water, unanimously adhered to by all OECD countries in December 2016. The Recommendation forms a concise and coherent legal instrument providing high-level policy guidance on a range of water-related topics, from managing water quality and quantity, to mitigating water-related risks and disasters, enhancing water governance, and financing, to name a few.

We are aiming higher, and bigger, with our Recommendation. We want countries beyond OECD membership to join us in our fight to address all pressing issues related to water.

Cabo Verde was the first Partner country to adhere. I am grateful to Minister Gilberto Silva, as his country’s adherence will inspire and encourage other Partner countries to adhere to the Recommendation. Our ambition is to share the lessons learned from a range of practitioners, which can benefit a wider community.

The Toolkit launched today compiles good practices in place in countries that have adhered to the Recommendation. Governments will find a suite of tools and options that can help them deliver on their water agenda. Including, a health check to assess whether water allocation regimes are fit for future challenges; and the OECD Water Governance Indicator Framework, designed to support self-assessment of governance frameworks at local, basin or national scale.

These lessons are even more valuable in the current context, marked by the pandemic, and its dire social and economic consequences. Importantly, they can help us make the best of our capacities for collective action.

Dear friends,

Co-operation and unity should be the ambition of the water community. Water is our common, and most important resource. We share it, we live thanks to it, and we should protect and cherish it all together. Count on the OECD. Count on us to support you to continue delivering on this key agenda!

Thank you.


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