JIS News

Water stakeholders throughout the hemisphere will converge in Montego Bay from October 9 to 14 for the fifth annual Inter-American Dialogue on Water Management.
This is the first occasion that a Caribbean country will host the prestigious event, which will attract some 200 water specialists and experts from Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Haiti, as well as all the South American and Central American nations.
Personnel from the Canadian-based International Development and Research Centre (IDRC) Environment Canada, as well as representatives from the United States, will also attend.
Managing Director of the Water Resources Authority (WRA), Basil Fernandez, speaking at yesterday’s (Sept.28) JIS Think Tank, noted that the event would enable Jamaica and the wider region “to bring forth the issues related to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in terms of water resources and development and management.”
The meeting, which is scheduled for the Half Moon Conference Centre, will provide the opportunity for the transfer of technology and knowledge in the sector, as well as strengthen local capacity to address global challenges and to more effectively manage and develop water resources.
Throughout the five days, participants will be exposed to various meetings and discussions, plenary sessions, a technical exhibition and tours across Jamaica.
The meeting agenda for October 10 to 12 will comprise plenary and break-out sessions where participants will discuss a range of issues such as, ‘Water for Sustainable Development’ including water for food and the environment; ‘Integrated Water Resources Management and Governance,’ ‘Water and Sanitation for All’ and ‘Risk Management,’ both in terms of floods and droughts.
The sessions, which will be broken into two-hour segments, will facilitate four presentations each in the first half of the session and discussion in the second half. Speakers and presenters for these sessions are drawn from across the region.
“We hope that the participation of the delegates from across the hemisphere will bring to us new ideas, new success stories and of course, direction into where we can go in terms of water resources management and development,” Mr. Fernandez stated.
He noted that the idea for the discussion sessions was to “look at what are the new technologies available to us, what are the new policies that can be put in place, what are the investment opportunities that are available, and these will translate into improved water resources management as well as improved water supply delivery, which will affect the national economy.”
Following the three days of plenary sessions, the participants will be taken on tours, where they view local community action in water and sanitation, new water and wastewater treatment systems in Montego Bay as well as some of the world’s finest Karst topography (an amalgamation of caves, underground channels, and a rough and bumpy ground surface), which can be found in the Cockpit Country, said Mr. Fernandez.
“On Thursday, we begin our field tours across Jamaica and we have selected four tours, which will include sites where water resources development has taken place. We’ll also be looking at the hydrology of certain sections of the island,” he added.
Special closed meetings will be held on October 13 and 14 to discuss some ongoing projects with the United Nation’s Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) International Hydrologic Programme, as well as funding for new ones.
When the curtains come down on the fifth Inter-American Dialogue on Water Management, a definitive action plan will be put in place to deal with the major problems that are peculiar to the region, Mr. Fernandez noted, adding that in the past the dialogues have tended to be a series of meetings, which culminate in the production of a document, from which very little is achieved.
“We want to put in place strategies.then we will set up a team or group to actually monitor the implementation of the strategies that we are looking at to achieve the targets that we have set so that we can measure the outputs,” he assured.
A position paper will be prepared and presented at the Fourth World Water Forum in Mexico in March 2006, Mr. Fernandez informed. This forum is a meeting of all the Ministers of Water and Environment, as well as international funding agencies. “The general idea is to say to these funding agencies.this is the consensus of the region and this is where you need to invest your money…what we are trying to do is to guide that investment to ensure that we get maximum returns,” he said.