World Water Forum – Day 3

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Katherine Sierra, World Bank Vice President for Infrastructure, in Mexico City this Saturday:

In addition all investment, whether public or private, needs to be supported by robust regulations and monitoring, and designed with the active participation of water users and civil society. Investment, must be safeguarded so every dollar delivers a real benefit. As in development more broadly, principles of good governance and vigilance against the corrosive impact of corruption are essential to delivering real results.

The controversy that often surrounds water infrastructure is another obstacle developing countries face in their aspirations for water security. In the past, many of the inevitable tradeoffs involved in water infrastructure development were poorly understood, poorly designed, or poorly implemented. The burden of these mistakes was often borne by the communities affected by a project, as well as by local natural environments. This led many people to believe that water resources infrastructure development is intrinsically bad for the poor and bad for the environment. This perception had become a barrier to water development, but it is clear that at this 4th World Water Forum we have moved beyond this debate.

The World Bank has learnt from past mistakes and has been supporting developing countries in their efforts to build socially and environmentally sound infrastructure at all scales, large and small. Incorporating these considerations from the outset, including involvement of local communities --so that they can share the benefits-- is essential. And we know that with this approach we can still allow the economy and society at-large to benefit from the growth made possible by these investments. This double dividend is possible.

For comment on Day 2, see the ODI Blog.

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