A Report on the 5th Delft Symposium on Capacity Development in the Water Sector – Who Will Take the Lead?

At the closing of the 4th Delft Symposium in 2007, there was an international call for 1,000 water leaders, which is what was seen as an incremental solution to alleviating the water crisis in developing countries. The outcome of the 5th Symposium was to identify the people in the room (225 water professionals from 60 countries) as the people who need to stand up and fill the role of water leaders.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) come to an end in 2015. Even if all the goals were satisfied, there would still be plenty of work left to do as the MDGs were only aimed at reducing by half the number of people suffering from the effects of poverty, maternal health, education, etc. These goals were originally designed by a handful of professionals, and each of the eight goals are underscored by the need to address access to water (ie if you improve access to water, you affect each of the MDGs individually).

The successor to the MDGs are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is a committee of 20 to 30 water professionals who are developing the goals, so they have started the process well in advance of 2015. A decision was made at the Delft Symposium to request that water be a stand alone goal due to its inherent importance to many facets of life. This request was presented by the three leaders of Liberia, the UK and Indonesia at a High Level meeting of the UN during the course of the symposium.

In addition to the policy aspects of water development, there were many interesting interactive sessions on how to improve the outcomes of education systems. What has become apparent to me is that the teaching methods used in Canadian Universities are very advanced in comparison to other tertiary institutions worldwide. The incorporation of the practical application of skills learned for use after graduation if critical to the outcome of having graduates employed after finishing their studies. Also, it has been identified that information, communication and technology skills need to be integrated into any university program.

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