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The World Water Council (WWC) is an independent, international organisation incorporated as a French not-for-profit association, with a special consultative status granted by UNESCO and ECOSOC.

The World Water Council’s objectives, as stated in its Constitution, are:

  • To identify critical water issues of local, regional and global importance on the basis of ongoing assessments of the state of water;
  • To raise awareness about critical water issues at all levels of decision making, from the highest authorities to the general public;
  • To develop a common strategic vision on integrated water resources management on a sustainable basis, and to promote the implementation of effective policies and strategies worldwide;
  • To provide advice and relevant information to institutions and decision-makers on the development and implementation of policies and strategies for sustainable water resources management, with due respect for the environment and social and gender equity; and
  • To contribute to the resolution of issues related to transboundary waters.

The World Water Council is financed primarily through membership fees, and additional support is provided by the host City of Marseilles. Specific projects and programs are financed through donations and grants from governments, international organizations, public and private companies and NGO's.



The World Water Council was established in 1996 on the initiative of water specialists and international organizations. Following the Dublin Declaration in 1992 and in response to the decision of the Ministerial and Officials Conference on Drinking Water and Environmental Sanitation held in March 1994 in the Netherlands (and endorsed by the Commission on Sustainable Development and the General Assembly of the United Nations) to explore the concept of a World Water Forum, the International Water Resources Association meeting in Cairo in 1994 charged a committee to carry out the preparatory work to create a World Water Council. This Committee defined the mission and objectives of the World Water Council, formally established in Marseille on June 14, 1996, as set forth in its Constitution.

Achievements Highlights

  1. World Water Forum - Every third year the World Water Council organizes the World Water Forum in close collaboration with the authorities of the hosting country. The Forum is the largest international event in the field of water, with over 20,000 participants from more than 190 countries for the last edition.
  2. World Water Vision - At the 1st World Water Forum, Marrakech, 1997, the World Water Council received the mandate to develop the World Water Vision for Life and Environment for the 21st Century. Within two years, over 15,000 women and men at local, district, national, regional and international levels shared their aspirations and developed strategies for practical action towards the sustainable use and management of water resources. The Vision includes contributions from professionals and stakeholders in more than 15 geographic regions. It was presented by the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century at the Second World Water Forum in March 2000 in The Hague, the Netherlands.
  3. World Water Actions - In continuity with the Vision, the World Water Council set-up an action-monitoring program after the 2nd World Water Forum (The Hague, 2000). This exercise was conducted by the Water Action Unit, focusing on field actions, and on leading processes. The “World Water Actions report” is an inventory of the thousands of worldwide actions which affect the way water is managed. It aims to raise awareness of solutions that are available to improve water resources management and anticipate emerging priorities which will serve as guidelines for future efforts. The accent is placed on actions that are significant at the national level, and/or that show innovation and new approaches to recurring challenges.
  4. Financing Water for All - The World Panel on Financing Water Infrastructure also called Camdessus Panel, was active over the 2001-2003 period, and presented its final report "Financing Water for All" at the 3rd World Water Forum in Kyoto, 2003. The Panel’s objective was to address ways and means of attracting new financial resources to the water field. It comprised 20 personalities with top-level experience in government, finance ministries, international development financial agencies, commercial banks, water companies, NGOs active in the water sector and a number of eminent independent professionals. The Task Force on Financing Water for All (or Gurria Task Force) has been formed at the end of 2005 as a follow-up of the Camdessus Panel to ensure that the financing issues related to water and sanitation receive the continuous attention they deserve. Under the chairmanship of Angel Gurria, former Mexican Minister of Finance and new Secretary General of the OECD, the Task Force members focused on local authorities' access to finance and water for agriculture. The report “Task Force on Financing Water for All: Enhancing access to finance for local governments - Financing water for agriculture“ was presented during the Fourth World Water Forum in Mexico.
  5. Strengthening Local Authorities – The World Water Council set up a programme to develop capacities of local authorities (municipalities, district and provincial governments in rural and urban areas) for development and management of water and water services. As a result, the Istanbul Water Consensus was presented during the 5th World Water Forum, Istanbul 2009. This document requires cities to prepare action plans to analyse water-related challenges and implement strategies to cope with them, to set up a series of indicators and to report on the progress at the next World Water Forum. 250 Local and Regional Authorities from 43 countries were represented in Istanbul and more than 600 Mayors have already signed the IWC. Ten big cities like Vienna, Lausanne, Incheon, Paris and Buenos Aires have even committed to become “champion cities” of the IWC and will build on the momentum and coordinate the work carried out for specific subjects.


The World Water Council is comprised of over 400 member organisations based in over 60 countries and organised in 5 Colleges that represent the main groups of stakeholders:

  • College 1: Intergovernmental organisations
  • College 2: Government and governmental authorities
  • College 3: Enterprises and facilities
  • College 4: Civil society organisations and water user associations
  • College 5: Professional associations and academic institutions

Membership of the World Water Council is open to any organisation with an interest in water issues that accepts the missions and objectives of the World Water Council, as defined in its Constitution and By-laws. Membership fees are calculated according to the country’s GDP (PPP). A Membership Solidarity Fund has been established to offer the possibility for members from low-income countries and with limited resources to have their membership fees partly subsidized through donations from other members.

Members constitute the ultimate authority of the Council. Through the General Assembly, they decide and vote on the Council’s future orientation, budget and activities. All Council members enjoy the same rights and benefits; in particular each active member holds one vote. The list of members is available from the World Water Council website.


The ultimate authority of the World Water Council is the General Assembly of Members. They are governed by its Constitution and By-Laws. The General Assembly elects and appoints 35 members to the Board of Governors. The Board of Governors in turn elects the President, the Vice-President, the Treasurer and the Bureau. The Bureau and the Director General are responsible for the management of World Water Council operations and for decision-making between Board of Governors meetings. These working bodies meet as frequently as needed. The General Assembly meets at least once every three years in ordinary meetings and as needed in extraordinary meetings.


Critics accuse the World Water Council of promoting the privatisation of water supply, an indication of this is the large influence of financial institutions and global water corporations.[1] The Canadian activist Tony Clarke describes the World Water Council as a smoke screen for the water lobby. Medha Patkar, an activist from India, gave a passionate speech against privatisation of water at the 2nd World Water Forum in The Hague in 2000.[1]


  1. ^ Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke, "Blue Gold: The Battle Against Corporate Theft of the World's Water" (2002).

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