The Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace was launched on Nov. 16, 2015 at the headquarters of the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, as the first event of the Geneva Peace Week.
This independent panel is composed of senior figures from 15 countries in the fields of politics, academia, the private sector and civil society. It will formulate proposals on the instruments and architecture to be put in place to prevent and reduce water-related conflicts at global and regional levels.
The ministerial ceremony at WIPO started with opening remarks by Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter, Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Michael Møller, Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, and Mr. Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization and Chair of UN-Water, followed by interventions by high level officials from co-convening countries and panelists.
During the event, internationally renowned musician Mich Gerber, a Swiss double bass player who is also one of the Ferrymen on the Aare River, performed three musical pieces. One of them was the first part of a “water for peace symphony”. This symphony will be co-composed step-by-step by different musicians from regions where the panel will meet. It should be completed for the presentation of the Panel's results to UN Secretary General in December 2017.
Initiated by Switzerland two years ago, the panel seeks to develop a set of proposals aimed at strengthening the global architecture to prevent and resolve water-related conflicts, to facilitate the use of water for building peace and to put water relations at the center of government policy worldwide. The panel is expected to meet several times within the next two years in different parts of the world, and will submit its report to the United Nations Secretary General by December 2017.
Mumbai-based think tank Strategic Foresight Group (SFG) has been selected to lead the panel. The co-convening countries are Switzerland, France, Spain Cambodia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Estonia, Hungary, Ghana, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Oman, Senegal and Slovenia. The Geneva Water Hub will act as the Panel’s Secretariat.
Keynote Statement by the Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter