The first Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on Water and Health was held in Geneva from 17 to 19 January 2007. More than 140 participants from the pan-European region and from some African countries gathered for the event, including representatives of Parties, Signatories, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.
Parties reaffirmed their commitment to increase intersectoral partnership and coordination between environment and health policies and recognized that this will bring many benefits: increased life expectancy at birth, enhanced well-being and environmental protection, reduced poverty and increased economic development, progress in research and understanding, improved education, enhanced international cooperation and greater involvement by civil society in environment and health matters.
Parties and Signatories reaffirmed their commitment to the Protocol’s goal of providing access to safe water and adequate sanitation to everybody. For this reason the Protocol is at the forefront in the implementation of the human right to water as discussed during the Roundtable on the human right to water and the Protocol on Water and Health: making access to water a reality, which took place on the second day of the Meeting.
The Parties defined the architecture of the Protocol by adopting their rules of procedure as well as a number of other decisions (e.g. on financial arrangements, focal points, mainstreaming the work of the Protocol in the decision-making of WHO, terms of reference of bodies established under the Meeting of the Parties).
Most notably they adopted a compliance procedure, open to communications from the public and elected the Compliance committee, composed of nine independent experts with legal, health and water management background.
Moreover the Parties established a mechanism for international support for national action under article 14 of the Protocol which will promote the coordination of international aid in the field of the Protocol. At the same time, it will enhance the capacity of recipient countries to access sources of finance by helping them to formulate projects.
Parties exchanged information on their progress in setting targets and target dates according to the Protocol and agreed on a programme of work to establish harmonized targets and to review progress towards their achievement. A Task force on indicators and reporting (renamed Task force on target setting and reporting after the Second session of the Meeting of the Parties in 2010) was established to assist Parties to meet the challenges of the Protocol’s obligations in this area, in particular the publication of targets by 2007 for the first 15 countries that ratified the Protocol and the reporting of progress achieved to the second meeting of the Parties.
A Task force on surveillance will develop guidelines to put in place surveillance, early warning and response systems to outbreaks of water-related diseases. The task force will implement country assistance programmes to train country officials and test the effectiveness of the guidelines.
Other activities in the adopted programme of work for 2007-2009 include activities related to equitable access to water and solidarity measures, water supply and sanitation and adaptation to climate change, integrated management of small water supply and sanitation systems, as well as capacity building and awareness raising activities.
Chairman of the Working Group on Water and Health under the Water Convention
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Moldova, Norway, Slovakia and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
Hungary on the implementation of the Protocol
Chairperson of the first MoP
Pictures of the fourth Meeting of the Parties are available here