January 29, 2005 | Bangkok, Thailand
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent at global forums to discuss water-related issues over the past 25 years. The benefits of spending such enormous amounts are not known, and also not known is if such forums have had any impact on improving the water availability conditions and human welfare of billions of people in the developing world. Yet, such forums, have become not only increasingly more frequent, but also expensive. For example, only the Secretariat costs of the Third World Water Forum in Japan in 2003, has been conservatively estimated at $28 million. While costs have escalated exponentially for these global forums, no serious studies have ever been done on what have been the impacts of these mega-conferences, and if more impact-oriented cost-effective alternatives are available to replace such events.
The Centre initiated a project to determine the impacts of these forums. The views of water and development professionals and policy-makers were sought as to what have been the impacts of these mega-conferences, and their levels of satisfaction with the results of these meetings. Responses were received from over 123 countries of the world. These responses were analysed. In addition, some specific geographical regions were selected to conduct in-depth case studies. These regions include Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, India, Japan, Scandinavia, Southern Africa, and Turkey. In addition, Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary General of past mega-conferences were invited to prepare retrospective analyses of the events they were responsible for organising in terms of their strengths, weaknesses and impacts.
These analyses and all the specially commissioned papers were discussed at an invitation-only workshop in Bangkok, Thailand, 29-30 January 2005.