Budapest Water Summit

In June 2012 the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development confirmed the crosscutting importance of water in and for sustainable development. In the Rio+20 outcome document, “The Future We Want”, water appears as a horizontal issue that is inextricably linked to the majority of priority areas identified for global action.

To better define the pathway towards sustainability, the Rio+20 outcome document calls for the establishment of universally applicable sustainable development goals (SDGs). While the document does not identify individual SDG areas, in view of the crosscutting role of water it is widely accepted that a stand-alone SDG or SDGs should be dedicated to water.

Various international bodies are engaged in the assessment of existing and the elaboration of future water-related development goals, including an SDG. With a view to assess and summarise these activities as well as to provide guidance for future work the Government of Hungary, in cooperation with the UN system and the World Water Council, organises a global conference: the Budapest Water Summit in Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, between 8-11 October 2013.


Thus the principal objective of the 2013 Budapest Water Summit: The Role of Water and Sanitation in the Global Sustainable Development Agenda is to take stock of the various developments, in and outside the UN system, in preparing water-related goals for the post Rio+20 development agenda.

Based on the outcomes of various UN programmes and initiatives as well as the World Water Forum series of the World Water Council, respectively, it also aims to present practical, accessible and affordable solutions to the main challenges identified. The Summit is expected to provide defining contributions to the elaboration of one overarching SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) SDG on water and sanitation that corresponds and responds to multidimensional challenges.

The Budapest Water Summit is envisaged as a policy forum to facilitate consensus building amongst stakeholders concerning water and sanitation policy goals. As the Summit aims to formulate a concrete recommendation for the UN General Assembly for setting the post-2015 development agenda, it must bridge political, scientific and technical aspects in the elaboration of the water and sanitation related SDG. It is therefore imperative that the Summit be structured in such a way as to provide an open policy forum for all stakeholders involved in shaping the global post-2015 agenda.

Areas covered

Striving for universal access to water and sanitation: Critical issues of access to water and sanitation, urban water infrastructure planning, waste water management, development and maintenance from technological, financial, public health and human rights aspects, with a view to providing sustained access;

Integrated water resources management for the 21st century: The challenges of adaptation and resilience in face of a growing population and a changing climate – complex solutions for pollution prevention, soil and groundwater protection, food security, disaster risk management including floods and droughts and man-made disasters, water storage and recycling, the water, food and energy nexus;

Good water governance: International cooperation, transboundary river basin and aquifer management, integrated institutional strategy in planning and implementation, stakeholder participation in the preparation of water policies; capacity development, education, research, data management, monitoring and assessment;

Green economy for blue water: Traditional and innovative water technologies and techniques in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; practical, affordable, local solutions in the various regions of the world;

Investment in and financing of the implementation of water and sanitation SDG: The availability and best use of national and international financial resources and institutions; best practices, lessons learned. In addition to official development policy, special attention is to be paid to investment in water and sanitation as a regular course of business.


The above issues will be discussed in five thematic plenary Summit sessions and a special evening session. Each thematic session will be introduced by three keynote speeches to be delivered by the representative of a developing country, a developed country and an international organisation/NGO, respectively. Keynote addresses will be followed by moderated Davos-style discussions by a series of distinguished panellists, selected in view of a proper geographical and gender balance. The conclusions of each thematic session will be summarised by a rapporteur, who will present the relevant findings to the closing plenary session. The closing joint plenary will adopt the recommendations.

Next to the Plenary sessions, parallel stakeholder meetings will be held as follows:

  • Science Forum
  • Youth Forum
  • Civil Society Forum
  • Business Leaders Forum and Expo
  • Philanthropy Roundtable.

The forums will be invited to provide written contributions to the Budapest Recommendations.

The expected outcome of the Budapest Water Summit

The Budapest Water Summit attempts to cover these issues in a complex interdisciplinary, interconnected yet practical manner combining policy, scientific, financial-economic as well as governmental and non-governmental approaches and inputs. The outcome document, the Budapest Recommendations on Water and Sanitation, will identify the concrete possible water-related building blocks of a “Big Water SDG” to be incorporated into future SMART SDGs as well as the post-2015 development agenda.

Connections to other previous and future events

The Summit particularly aims to build on the conclusions of the 6th World Water Forum, held in Marseille, France, March 2012, the proceedings of the World Water Day events in March 2013 held in The Hague, The Netherlands, the Conference on International Water Cooperation in August in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, the Stockholm World Water Week in September 2013 and the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Summit will formulate its conclusions with a view to providing contributions to the 7th World Water Forum to be held in Daegu, Republic of Korea, in 2015. The Water Summit forms part of the events of the UN International Year of Water Cooperation led by UNESCO.

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