Arab-Swiss Water Day in Bern

Article, 27.03.2017

As part of the Arab-DAC Dialogue on Development in Bern, Switzerland is organising an additional conference day with key Arab donor institutions on Goal 6 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Water and Sanitation for All. The discussions will focus on promoting durable and innovative approaches to ensure the sustainable management of water, which is a vital resource.

A young boy in Afghanistan drinking water from a fountain.
Around 660 million people have no access to clean water. Conflicts make this situation even worse. U

The 7th Arab-DAC Dialogue on Development is taking place on 27 March 2017 in Bern. Switzerland is hosting the development policy dialogue between the member states of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and key Arab institutions working in international cooperation.

The donor countries of the Golf Cooperation Council (GCC) are important for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in part due to their relatively large investments in developing and emerging countries.

«Much goodwill and credibility in the Arab countries»

Der DEZA-Mitarbeiter Niklaus Eggenberger
© SDC

Niklaus Eggenberger is the regional adviser for international cooperation at the Swiss embassy in Abu Dhabi. His remit includes dialogue with the donor countries in the Gulf region.

Niklaus Eggenberger, why does Switzerland have an adviser for international cooperation in Abu Dhabi if it does not run any development cooperation projects in this region?

It is correct that the SDC does not run and implement any of its own projects in the Gulf states. However, the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council are some of the world's most important donors outside the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. While the budgets for international cooperation are shrinking in the OECD countries, including Switzerland, the Gulf countries are still investing substantial funds in international cooperation in spite of lower oil prices. With its official development assistance in 2015 at 1.09% of gross domestic product, or some USD 5 billion in absolute figures, the United Arab Emirates is one of the biggest donors worldwide. Saudi Arabia spent around USD 14 billion on development in 2014, which equates to 1.9% of Saudi GDP. By way of comparison: the UN target is 0.7% of GDP, and Switzerland achieved 0.52% in 2015.

Exchange, innovation and partnerships to implement the water goal

For Switzerland, the Arab DAC dialogue is an opportunity to organise a second conference day, the Arab-Swiss Water Day, which addresses Goal 6 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Water and Sanitation for All. Switzerland played an active role in the drafting of the 2030 Agenda, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015 in New York.

Sustainable water management is one of the 21 century’s global challenges.  Water is increasingly a cause of social, economic and political instability, and has a significant impact on security and peace worldwide. In many countries, armed conflict and civil unrest mean that access to good-quality water can no longer be ensured. But water can also help countries cooperate with one another – making it an opportunity to build and maintain peace.

The Arab-Swiss Water Day will focus on how implementation of the water goal can be advanced quickly, and what long-term approaches and partnerships are needed to that end. Participants will discuss the sustainability of investments in water management and the promotion of new business models and technologies in collaboration with the private sector. Institutions and companies in the water sector will also showcase the latest technological innovations and approaches in an exhibition.