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6th World Water Forum
Home Page > FAQ

What is the Forum? What is the difference with other international conferences?

The World Water Forum is an international event, organised every three years by the World Water Council in collaboration with the authorities of the host country (Turkey for the 5th edition). It is the largest water-related event in the world, aimed at putting water firmly on the international agenda. A three-year preparatory process culminates in one week of sessions, debates and cultural activities, where all stakeholders with an interest in water issues come together to push for strong political commitment for a greater priority to be given to appropriate water management strategies.

The specificity of the Forum is that it is the result of lengthy preparatory processes involving many stakeholders. While most conferences that deal with water issues are made for water experts or for specific target groups, the World Water Forum is a place where people from every sector can come together to debate and to find common solutions to water-related problems. The Forum thus recognises that water is a crosscutting issue, and that the solution to water-related issues requires more than a sector-only approach. Furthermore, while most conferences deal with one specific subject, the World Water Forum is a global event aiming to cover the most critical water issues and their related causes or impacts (such as climate change and its consequence on migration, to name just one).

The World Water Forum is also unique in that it allows its multi-stakeholder debates to be transformed into commitment at the political level, throughout its preparatory process and during the week of the Forum. The Forum thus gathers Ministers from over a hundred countries during a Ministerial Conference, and facilitates the interaction between these Ministers, Parliamentarians and Local Authorities. Also, major United Nations events are timed to coincide with the Forum. Over the years the regular UN World Water Development Reports has been launched at the Forum. Following this practice the third Report will be launched at the 5th World Water Forum in March 2009 in Istanbul.

Why a 5th Forum? What is its added value as compared to previous Fora?

Each Forum can be viewed as a key stepping stone in the road to a water-secure future, but also represents new and different challenges. With each Forum building on the conclusions of the previous one, the three intermediate years serve to further advance the debate and understanding of crucial subjects. From the 500 participants in Marrakech to Mexico City’s 20,000 attendees, it is obvious that interest in the Forum is growing and that it has become the most recognised worldwide event for water. Despite concrete progress being made, we are far from achieving a water-safe world for all, and as such the task of the World Water Council and the Forum must continue for the time being. The Forum focuses on critical water issues in all their dimensions, and if in 2006 the main issue was about local authorities and local actions, today it is about bridging divides for water - bringing people together from different perspectives to find common solutions to improve access to water and sanitation for all.

Can anybody participate? Can I and why should I participate?

The 5th World Water Forum is open to everyone. Any individual from any background, region or sector who has an interest in water issues is welcome. All stakeholders from the water world as well as other sectors with a story to tell should attend the Forum, to share their experiences with others and to influence water policies at every level.

The 5th World Water Forum is unbiased: it is built upon open dialogue, accepts and tackles challenging issues and enables participants to discuss freely and come up with common solutions to water-related issues.

The Forum is a good opportunity to learn about water issues, to meet with existing colleagues and establish new partnerships, to exchange ideas and experiences, and to promote innovative projects, products and services.

The Forum is a unique platform where the water community and the policy and decision makers from all regions of the world can link up, debate and attempt to find solutions to achieve water security.

How can I participate?

The 5th World Water Forum encourages participation and collaboration throughout its preparatory process, oriented towards concrete actions. Your collaboration throughout the preparatory process is essential: it will allow you to guide the 5th World Water Forum to a successful conclusion.

Participation in the preparation of the 5th World Water Forum will mainly be facilitated through the Virtual Meeting Space (VMS), an online collaboration tool that will allow you to be part of the debate that will shape the future orientation of water management in the world.

There are 12 direct ways for you to get involved in the 5th World Water Forum. Discover them on the page ''Get involved, sure, but how?''

Can I submit a paper/abstract? Can I propose a session?

The thematic development process for this Forum is slightly different than for the previous Fora. Basically, the 5th Forum has the new ambition of responding concretely to a limited number (around 100) of key questions, around which interactive sessions will be designed. Each session will necessarily involve different stakeholders in order to discuss the issues using different perspectives. Therefore, complete session proposals, as received in the past, will not be solicited, but rather expressions of interest to contribute solutions for particular questions will be welcomed. Likewise, the Forum does not accept papers or abstracts as it does not have the vocation to be a technical conference.

All information on how to get involved at the topic level are available on the page ''Get involved in developing sessions''. The call for contributions is also available through the Virtual Meeting Space.

How much does it cost to participate?

Lower registration fees: the registration fees have been reviewed to make them fairer and more accessible for Forum participants from all over the world, from all sectors. The new fees are announced as:


Participants from:

Early Bird registration
up to January 15th, 2008

Registration from
January 16th,2009

Developed Countries/
UN Organizations      
€ 400€ 500
Developing & Least
developed countries     
€ 240€ 300
Young participant-students
(between16-25 ages)   
€ 80€ 100



3-day registration*€ 250                        
1-day registration*€ 100

 *3-day and 1-day registration packages are fixed and do not include any discount in terms of the countries, the membership of WWC and the early-bird registration.

The country considered is the country of incorporation of the organization that the individual is working for.

·         The consideration of countries as developed, developing or least developed is taken from the list provided by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

·         Young people’s fees apply to anyone under the age of 25 as of March 16th, 2009. A separate registration process is in operation for children.

·         Up to five employees of World Water Council members, that are up-to-date on the payment of their registration fees, receive a 20% discount on any of the prices indicated.

·         Accreditation for journalists will be open soon.

·         All registration packages include an electronic and/or hard copy of the documents, admission to the Forum venue and daily lunch.

·         Registration fees include taxes.

Is there financial support available to participate in the Forum?

Some sponsorships will be made available, the procedure for which is to be defined shortly. This section will be updated as soon as information becomes available.

One initiative of interest is the Kyoto World Water Grand Prize, of which the 2nd edition will be organized during the 5th World Water Forum. As part of the Prize, a number of organizations working at the grassroots level around the world to solve water problems will be identified and funded to attend the Forum, as well as being given the opportunity to present their work. The application period for the second edition of the Prize is now open through the 5th World Water Forum's Virtual Meeting Space.

How is the 5th Forum organised? How are sessions selected?

In March 2006, following a thorough selection process, the WWC Board of Governors selected Istanbul, Turkey as the host for the 5th World Water Forum.

The authorities of the host country and the World Water Council then established an International Steering Committee (ISC) for the Forum, composed of representatives from both sides. This ISC is supported by 3 sub-committees, namely the Programme, Political Process and Communication Committees. The ISC oversees the organization of the Forum and provides guidance on the work of the three sub-committees. The day-to-day operations for the Forum’s organisation are overseen by both a 5th Forum Secretariat in Istanbul and the World Water Council Headquarters.

In March 2007, a wide range of organisations assembled in Istanbul for the Kick-Off Meeting, marking the countdown towards the 2009 Forum and launching the various preparatory processes that are to be organised on the road to the event in Istanbul. This initial meeting brought together around 300 stakeholders from all sectors, continents and backgrounds, identifying together six challenges related to the Forum's overarching theme, which became the six main themes of the Forum. Three to five topics were identified under each theme. Together, these issues evolved into the thematic framework and the basis for the further preparation of the Forum.

In the remaining 2 years, a number of preparatory process meetings have been and will be held around the world to further develop thematic, political and regional issues, establish partnerships, create synergies, and involve people in the Forum process. A greater understanding of the themes and topics has been achieved through a consultative multi-stakeholder approach, including an online survey of the most pressing questions for which the Forum must strive provide answers through its sessions.

In February 2008, nearly 400 stakeholders participated in the 2nd Thematic Coordinators Meeting in Istanbul, where these questions were reviewed and further developed during multistakeholder roundtable discussions. Organisations were also named to coordinate inputs at the topic level and to scope out the issues that need to be discussed within each session. In cooperation with many different organisations, session conveners will integrate different perspectives in order to provide answers to the main challenges identified within each topic.

At present a call for contributions is in effect until 30 September, which is an open invitation to contribute your action-oriented solutions to these questions. Your expertise, experience and ideas are needed by sending your contributions through the Virtual Meeting Space or the website. All proposed contributions will be considered for incorporation into the development of sessions. Together, session conveners and contributors will work to finalize the structure and contents of each session by the end of 2008. An interactive dialogue format will be encouraged wherever possible.

What will happen during the Forum week? What is the programme?

The detailed programme for the Forum week should be defined by November 2008, and will be posted here as soon as it is available. The Forum will be a week-long attempt to make a concrete contribution to improving water management in the world, tackling the problem from various perspectives. It will involve the following:

  • Around 100 multistakeholder sessions debating key questions related to water resources management and strategies, to come up with key messages.
  • These key messages will then be considered by the Forum’s political component, which will also include a roundtable debate open to all participants.
  • The World Water Expo will be the home to various activities such as the Citizen’s Water House and its fountains of knowledge, the Global Education Village, the International Water and Film Events, and many others.
  • Presentations of the main priorities for the regions of the world, as a result of their own preparatory process.
  • A Learning Centre will present participants the opportunity to enhance their knowledge by following action- and policy-oriented courses.
  • Presentations by the finalists of the Kyoto World Water Grand Prize, excellent grassroots initiatives from around the world.
  • Several tours and social/cultural activities are planned for participants to highlight the links between water and culture.
  • And many more components will provide a highly-charged week of events that will aim to make a difference.

Who should I contact?

For any information about the Forum, you can use the ''Contact us'' form of this website or join the Forum Secretariat (contact details in the right column of this page).

A ''Who's Who'' has also been developed on this website, where you will find the names, position, e-mail address and photo of all Secretariat staff, WWC staff, and Committee members.

What is the World Water Expo?

The World Water Expo is an inclusive space in the 5th World Water Forum venue for the participation of governments, non-governmental organizations and companies related to water that wish to present their services, products, activities and works. This component aims to foster an atmosphere of knowledge- and technology-sharing, as well as bringing together the supply and the demand for innovation.

Organizations and companies present in the World Water Expo represent the complete spectrum of water-related activities. It will bring together key decision-makers from around the world with the aim to facilitate new business and networking opportunities.

The Expo will also be the venue for the presentation of different types of cultural, social and educational activities on water-related subjects. Multi-stakeholder activities for the Expo which seek to create a festive yet reflective atmosphere at the Forum’s main venue include a poster exhibition, the “International Water and Film Event”, the Global Water Education Village, a Learning Centre, networking spaces, side-events, water-related performances, a photo exhibition, and ethnic manifestations on water themes, amongst others.

What are the practical results of the previous World Water Fora? What can the 5th Forum accomplish in terms of concrete actions, rather than discussions?

The previous Fora have generated a large number of concrete actions, such as:

  • As a result of the Gurria Task Force on Financing Water for All (presented at the 4th Forum), the NWB Dutch bank created a 25M€ fund for water management projects in developing countries.
  • In 2005, the Dutch bank and insurance company SNS REAAL created a water fund, SNS REAAL Waterfonds, to invest in projects that focus on stimulating sustainable development, entrepreneurship and innovation in the area of water management.
  • Following work presented on the Right to Water at the 4th Forum, Ministers from 116 developing countries officially acknowledge the Right to Water for all in May of 2006. The Right to Water was also officially recognised in British and French legislation in 2006.
  • In Mexico, UN-HABITAT announced a memorandum of understanding with the AfDB for low-scale urban water projects and subsidies in the amount of $579M ($217M in subsidies and $362M in credit for investments in water and sanitation projects).
  • Project Wet launched the Action Education initiative to coincide with the 4th Forum, which consists of both education and action projects to help solve local water problems in developing countries.

This is a very small sample of the numerous actions that have come to fruition as a result of the Fora. In concrete terms, drinking water coverage worldwide went from 78% in 1990 to 83% in 2004, whereas at the same time, global sanitation increased from 49% to 59%, perhaps in part as a result of awareness created for these issues.

The 5th World Water Forum aims to raise the importance of water on the political agenda by bringing together elected representatives, government leaders and civil society to identify an Action Agenda. It supports discussions for solving water issues at regional and international level with a view toward channelling the results of the dialogue into formalized intergovernmental negotiations at a later stage through the United Nations and other global processes. It will hopefully help formulate concrete proposals and bring their importance to the world's attention, again, with a view towards generating political, financial and other commitments.

What political outcomes are expected from the Forum? Will politicians avoid commitments?

The World Water Forum has come to understand that more than Ministerial Conferences and Declarations are needed to encourage the linkage between the political and technical aspects of water and to increase the political will to act. This Forum will have meetings of Mayors from megacities who will make strong commitments to deal with water in their cities, through the Istanbul Urban Water Consensus. It will also include parliamentarians who will discuss the law changes that are required to face up to water challenges. As in the past, there will be a Ministerial Conference, but on this occasion it will ask Ministers to focus on a specific issue, namely society’s adaptations to climate change.

In addition, the Forum will include opportunities for interaction during the week among and between participants in the different elements of the political process and the thematic aspects of the Forum. While Ministerial Declarations have been presented at previous World Water Fora, the Political Process Committee is determined to go beyond such an output for the 5th Forum. For the first time, this Forum will also invite a limited number of Heads of States/Government to discuss the key water-related challenges in their countries.

It is of vital important for the World Water Council that there be continuity and follow-up between the different World Water Fora, and that what is said and achieved during the Forum is complied with. As such, the Council, together with the host country, is currently examining mechanisms through which it will be able to prompt countries to keep to their commitments made at the Forum.

Is the 5th Forum a vehicle for Turkey to control the water in the region? Is this Forum a vehicle for private water companies to exploit water as a commodity?

The Forum supports transboundary cooperation, common visions and integrated water resources management. It favours open collaboration and creates an enabling environment for this. It does not make judgements about what water management choices might be the best for a particular region, but rather offers opportunities for parties to talk about rational, just and equitable utilisation of transboundary water resources as well as the sharing of their benefits. Turkey, as the host country of the 5th World Water Forum, abides by this open discussion of transboundary matters.

The Forum is a place to discuss common solutions for water issues, taking into account the local specificities of each situation and each region. All kinds of solutions are presented and discussed during the Fora, from public-private partnerships to decentralization and strengthening local authorities. All actors are present, including governments, private companies NGOs, intergovernmental mechanisms, knowledge centres, and water users, but none may dominate debates or unduly influence the outcomes. The Forum is not a place for private firms to exploit water as a commodity but, to the contrary, to discuss and find common solutions that may be acceptable to all parties and be of benefit for all.

Will NGOs that are critical of the Forum be invited to attend?

The organizers of the 5th World Water Forum have already called for NGOs and activists to participate within the Forum. The Forum stands for the principle that it would be more useful to communicate, debate and discuss issues with all relevant stakeholders, to bridge divides rather than create them. Therefore, efforts will be made to include these organisations and their viewpoints in the Forum.

Will the Forum solve the World's water problems?

To solve the world’s water problems, water must be amongst the priorities on decision-makers’ agendas. The Forum has become a primary means for keeping water on the agenda of decision makers throughout the world. The Forum aims to facilitate solutions to the world’s water problems and promotes cooperation. The world’s water problems will be solved with the right governance, technical, administrative, legal and participative framework, which the Forum aims to support.




5th Forum Secretariat

Libadiye Caddesi No.54
Küçükçamlica - Üsküdar
34696 Istanbul/TURKEY

+90 216 325 49 92
+90 216 428 09 92