16th Plenary Session of the Congress – Strasbourg (France)

5 March 2009

Statement by prof. dr. Hasan z. Sarikaya, under secretary, Republic of Turkey, Ministry of environment and forestry

Distinguished presidents and members of euro-mediterranean cooperation,

Mr. President Of The Congress Of Local And Regional Authorities,


ladies and gentlemen,

İt is my great pleasure to be here with you at the “sixteenth plenary session of the congress of local and regional authorities”.

I wish to begin by thanking mr. ian micallef, the president of the congress, for his kind invitation that gives me opportunity to be here and take part in this significant event.

excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am honoured to announce that just following the next week Turkey will host the 5th world water forum which will take place in Istanbul, from 16 to 22 March.

Water is essential for our survival. Hence the dictum “water is life”. It is very true that water is one of the engines of sustainable development. We cannot fight poverty and hunger without utilizing our water resources.

What is most urgent for the international community is to provide safe drinking water and water for sanitation for all. We also need to supply enough water for agriculture so that food security for over eight billion people can be guaranteed in the future. We should also utilize our water potential for hydropower generation, which is much needed for socio-economic development. Lastly, we have to manage water resources in an efficient and sustainable manner so that we can protect the environment and ecosystems.

Turkey stands ready to share her experience regarding the development and management of water resources issues which have recently filled our agenda more than ever. Therefore, Istanbul is proud and honoured to host the 5th world water forum.

Around the world, there is an increasing global awareness of the importance of water-related issues and the high priority must be given to the sustainable development. In this context, the world water forum has become the main water-related event at the international level.

The overarching theme of the 5th world water forum is “bridging divides for water”, which refers to the central location of Istanbul, at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, the Middle-east and Africa, as well as the forum’s stated objective to bring together world leaders, civil society, water professionals and the media to establish bridges between east and west, north and south, rich and poor, young and old, men and women, technical and political, social and economic, supply and demand, and the developed and developing regions of the world. It emphasizes the need for greater interaction, communication and functional harmonization of the various entities involved in or affected by water management. It also sends out a message to the water community that water is not an end in itself, but rather a means for our development and well-being. Interaction with other sectors is therefore needed to understand how water can contribute to the solution of common problems faced by all affected sectors.

This theme also calls upon the international water community to make concrete proposals for a better management of water resources. This shall contribute to meeting the millennium development goals since water is cross-cutting through most of the millennium development goals and also other global human development targets.

During the 5th World Water Forum, two days will be dedicated to the local and regional authorities (18-19 March 2009). These days will include several thematic roundtables led by cities and local authorities’ summit.

A key output of this unique gathering will be the “Istanbul Water Consensus” a non-binding agreement among local authorities around the world to increase actions on water and sanitation issues.

There will also be a trialogue meeting on 20th of March 2009 between local authorities, parliamentarians and the ministers.

Currently, about 7845 people have already registered for the 5th World Water Forum.    

We hope that the 5th World Water Forum will bring more to the world than ideas, discussions and possible solutions to today’s water issues. The forum will bring the world to Istanbul to hear diverse concerns, improve understanding of divergent points-of-view, and hopefully bridge our various divides by focusing on what we have in common – our need for water to survive.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Taking into account the topic of this plenary session i would like also to inform you shortly about public water supply services in Turkey.

According to the 2007 census, Turkish population is about 70 million, of which 83% lives in municipalities.

98% of the municipal population has access to the piped and safe drinking water.

82% of Turkish population has access to the piped and safe drinking water.

As per 2006, 87% of municipal population has sewer network and 51% of the municipal population is served by some kind of wastewater treatment.

Water supply projects are executed and operated by mainly local authorities. Turkish state hydraulic works is also involved in mainly large scale water supply projects.

Wastewater projects are executed and operated by local authorities. The Ministry Of Environment And Forestry is helping the municipalities through its environmental fund.

Main challenging issues with respect to public water and sewer services in turkey are:

 Financing and pricing of water or setting water tariffs


 Development of the human capacity of the water agencies

 Optimal scale of the water agency.

Some of these points have also been elaborated in the discussion report with examples from the member states.

Before concluding my statement, let me express my thanks to the congress committee for the report entitled “public water and sewer services for sustainable development” as a congress’ contribution to the 5th World Water Forum.

And as a final point, i would like to invite you to the 5th World Water Forum which is a significant event for the better management of our water resources. We will be honoured to welcome you in Istanbul.

Thank you.