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Workshop on the Protocol on Water and Health, World Water Week

Workshop on the Protocol on Water and Health, World Water Week

20 August 2008
Stockholm Sweden


Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services , Romanian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization (WHO-EURO).


The main aim of the seminar was to raise awareness on the Protocol on Water and Health and on its unique approach that integrates health policies, environmental policies, investments, and international assistance. The seminar illustrated the different pillars of the Protocol such as the establishment of systems of surveillance and response to water-related outbreaks, the adoption of national targets through close cooperation of all concerned sectors, the mechanism to ensure mutual support between Parties and in particular the Ad Hoc Project Facilitation Mechanism, as well as the compliance review mechanism.


Water related diseases pose a serious threat to people’s lives and well-being across the world, and, contrary to common misconception, also in the pan-European region. While lack of safe drinking water and sanitation are recognized causes, the toll on human health from polluted water used for irrigation, bathing or for aquaculture and shell-fish production should not be underestimated. The causing factors belong to different policy sectors: health, environment, agriculture, water, infrastructure, tourism, etc.

There is a need for cooperation between different authorities to set common, coherent and reachable targets in order to tackle causes and effects, address the issue in a holistic manner and ensure step-by-step progress.

Setting joint targets and establishing surveillance systems to reduce the current burden of water-related disease and prevent and respond to water related disease outbreaks are at the core of the Protocol on Water and Health.

The Protocol supports a partnership approach that brings closer together health and environmental legislation and institutions, national and local authorities, the public and government institutions, donor and recipient countries.

The Protocol offers a framework where countries can join forces to address these complex issues in a more efficient way, learning from each other.

Two mechanisms are rooted in the Protocol to ensure such cooperation and mutual assistance: the compliance procedure - that combines review of Parties’ compliance to their obligations with facilitation of enforcement – and the Ad Hoc Project Facilitation Mechanism – that facilitate coordination of donor action and response to recipient countries needs.

Moreover, the Protocol puts great emphasis on local communities in rural areas, secure room for public participation and encourage civil society to take action.

The flexible Protocol’s approach allows countries to address local problems related to water and health and at the same time take into account global issues such as climate change, to which the water and sanitation facilities need to adapt now.



Doument Title ENG

Are there still water related diseases in the UNECE region?

Prof Thor Axel Stenström, Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control


Can the Protocol on Water and Health help?

Ms.Francesca Bernardini, UNECE


Establishing national implementation roadmaps

Mr. Pierre Studer, Federal Office of Public Health, Switzerland


Mobilizing funds through the Protocol’s Ad Hoc Project Facilitation Mechanism

Ms. Carola Beatrice Bjørklund, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway


Measuring progress and preventing and reacting to health outbreaks

Ms. Monica Blasi, National Institute of Health, Italy


The Protocol as a change management tool: using the provisions of the Protocol to adapt to climate change

Mr. Roger Aertgeerts, WHO-EURO


Protocol on Water and Health - what it means in practice for countries: advantages and difficulties

Ms. Ana Drapa, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Romania