OECD Water Days 2021

22 - 26 March 2021
See timing below*
Virtual events

On the occasion of World Water Day 2021, under the theme of valuing water, OECD Water Days comprised a series of virtual events which took place each day from 22-26 March. Missed the events? Watch the video replay of the sessions:

Main events

Monday 22 March

  • Session 1: Launch of OECD Water Days and Toolkit for Water Policies and Governance, 11:00 – 12:00 (CET)

    This high-level meeting with our Secretary-General, Angel Gurría, kicked off OECD Water Days 2021, showcasing the overarching policy guidance developed by the OECD for governments to strengthen their water policies, especially as part of country recovery strategies – notably the Council Recommendation on Water – and testimonies from select ministers on pressing and emerging water challenges.

    The OECD Toolkit for Water Policies and Governance, which includes a compendium of good practices, was launched to support better water policies for better lives across governments and stakeholders in OECD member and non-member countries.

  • Keynote Speech: Mr Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
  • Moderator: Mr John Curnow, Chief Economist – UK DEFRA, Chair of the OECD Environment Policy Committee

    Country Perspectives:
  • H.E. Teresa Ribera, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Ecological Transition, Spain
  • H.E. Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, Minister for infrastructure and Water, the Netherlands
  • H.E. Gilberto Silva, Minister for agriculture and environment, Cabo Verde
  • Ms Radhika Fox, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, US EPA
  • Dr Jae-hyeon Park, President of the Asia Water Council, CEO of K-water (video message)

  • Watch the video recording:

Tuesday 23 March

  • Session 2: A more transparent water governance for a stronger recovery, 13:30 – 14:30 (CET)
    A joint initiative with the OECD Global Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum

    The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the critical importance of sanitation, hygiene and adequate access to clean water to contain the spread of the virus, especially for the 3 billion people lacking basic handwashing facilities and those living in precarious living conditions.

    Taking stock of ongoing recovery packages and countries’ efforts to build back better, this session discussed the crucial importance of integrity and transparency to catalyse needed finance and achieve SDG 6, on "clean water and sanitation for all".

    Moderated Panel Discussion:
  • Chair: Ms Oriana Romano, Head of Unit, Water Governance and Circular Economy, Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities, OECD

  • Ms Barbara Schreiner, Executive Director, Water Integrity Network
  • Ms Sareen Malik, Executive Secretary, African Civil Society Network on Water
  • Mr John Dini, Research Manager, Water Research Commission, South Africa
  • Mr Donal O'Leary, Senior Advisor, Transparency International
  • Mr Thomas Panella, Director, Environment, Natural Resources, Agriculture Division, Asian Development Bank
  • Ms Elizabeth Moses, Environmental Rights and Justice Associate with the Environmental Democracy Practice (EDP), World Resources Institute

Wednesday 24 March  

  • Session 3: Water governance in African Cities, 12:00 – 13:30 (CET)
    Co-hosted with United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG-A), the World Water Council and the Kingdom of Morocco.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has acted as a magnifying glass on pressing water and sanitation challenges in Africa, especially for the 56% of the urban population living in informal settlements, lacking access to proper hygiene conditions. Climate change, urbanisation and population growth will add further pressure on water resources.

    A contribution to the 9th World Water Forum (Dakar, March 2022) preparatory process, this high-level session raised the profile of Mayors and City leaders in enhancing water security in Africa, building on the evidence and guidance from two new OECD reports on Water Governance in African Cities and Water Governance in Cape Town, South Africa. These reports, which were launched by the OECD Secretary-General, were prepared as part of the OECD Programme on Water Security for sustainable development in Africa, developed as a follow-up to the King Hassan II Great World Water Prize. The Prize was granted to the OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría in 2018. The Session concluded with the launch of a new OECD/UCLG-Africa Roundtable of African Mayors for Water Security to galvanise political action at the local level for better water policies.

  • Moderator: Ms Aziza Akhmouch, Head of the Cities, Urban Policies and Sustainable Division, Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities, OECD

    Opening Remarks and Launch of OECD reports:
  • Mr Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, OECD 
  • Mr Abdelkader Amara, Minister of Equipment, Transport, Logistics and Water, Kingdom of Morocco
  • Mr Loic Fauchon, President, World Water Council
  • Mr Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary-General, UCLG Africa

    Spotlight on Mayors:
  • Ms Alderman Xanthea Limberg, Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Waste, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Ms Soham El Wardini, Mayor of Dakar, Senegal
  • Ms Roheyatou Lowe, Mayor of Banjul, Gambia
  • Mr Mohamed Boudra, Mayor of Al Hoceima, Morocco
  • Mr Mohamed Sefiani, Mayor of Chefchaouen, Morocco 
  • Mr Mohamed Sadiki, Mayor of Rabat, Morocco
  • Ms Macoura Dao, Mayor of Foumbolo, Côte d’Ivoire, President of the Network for Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA)

    Stakeholders’ Perspective:
  • Ms Amel Hamza, Division Manager for Gender and Women Empowerment, African Development Bank
  • Ms Barbara Schreiner, Executive Director, Water Integrity Network


  • Watch the video recording:


Thursday 25 March  

  • Session 4: Water governance in Latin America and the Caribbean, 14:30 – 16:00 (CET)

    Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic recession, which alongside climate change will add pressure on water resources.

    This high-level session took stock of LAC countries efforts to raise the profile of water in their recovery strategies and build back better water systems. The OECD report on Water Governance in Peru was launched by the OECD Secretary-General as a starting point for the subsequent peer-to-peer learning from high-level decision makers and strategic partners in LAC countries.

    Opening Remarks and Launch of OECD Report:
  • Mr Angel Gurría, Secretary-General, OECD 
  • Ms Violeta Bermúdez, President of the Council of Ministers, Peru
  • Moderator: Ms Aziza Akhmouch, Head of Division, Cities, Urban Policies and Sustainable Development, Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities, OECD

    Country Perspectives:
  • Mr Gabriel Quijandría Acosta, Minister of the Environment, Peru
  • Mr Carlos Eduardo Correa Escaf, Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development, Colombia
  • Ms Blanca Elena Jiménez Cisneros, Director-General, National Water Commission (CONAGUA), Mexico
  • Ms Christianne Dias, Director-President, National Water Agency (ANA), Brazil
  • Mr Peter Glas, Delta Programme Commissioner, the Netherlands; and Chair of the OECD Water Governance Initiative

    Stakeholders Perspectives: 
  • Ms Anna Wellenstein, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Sustainable Development Practice Group, World Bank
  • Mr Sergio I. Campos G., Water and Sanitation Division Chief, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

    Concluding Remarks:
  • Mr Gabriel Quijandría Acosta, Minister of the Environment, Peru


  • Watch the video recording:


Friday 26 March  

  • Session 5: Water governance and financing in Asia-Pacific, 9:00 – 10:00 (CET)
    Co-hosted with the Asian Development Bank (ADB)

    Asia-Pacific, the world’s fastest-growing region, is facing pressing and emerging water security issues, which will be further exacerbated by climate change. By 2050, regional water demand is forecast to increase by 55% and 3.4 billion Asian people are expected to live in water-stressed areas. Sound water governance and sustainable financing will be essential to manage the risks of too little, too much, and too polluted water in the region while ensuring universal access to drinking water and sanitations services.

    This session discussed water governance and financing in Asia-Pacific building on two OECD reports, Water Governance in Asia-Pacific, and Financing water security for sustainable growth in Asia and the Pacific, produced as part of ADB’s 2020 edition of the Asian Water Development Outlook (AWDO). Panellists shared perspectives on common challenges across the region and how to bridge identified governance and financing gaps to drive better water security now and in the future.

    Opening Remarks and Reports Launch:
  • Ms Jingmin Huang, Director, Urban Development, Water Supply and Sanitation Division, Pacific Department, Asian Development Bank
  • Ms Lamia Kamal-Chaoui, Director, Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities, OECD
  • Moderator: Mr Mark Smith, Director General, International Water Management Institute, Sri Lanka

    Country Perspectives:
  • Mr Pak Abdul Malik Sadat Idris, Deputy Director, Institutional Infrastructure of Water Resources, Indonesian National Development Planning Agency (BAPPENAS)
  • Ms Piyatida Ruangrassamee, Assistant Professor, Department of Water Resource Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand
  • Dr Yongdeok Cho, Director of Global Cooperation Department, K-water; Secretary-General, Asia Water Council

    The Way Forward:
  • Mr Rodolfo Lacy, Director, Environment Directorate, OECD


  • Watch the video recording:

Other OECD Side Events 

Wednesday 24 March 

  • Let’s Talk About Water: Film as a Water Science Communication Tool in African Cities, 16:00 – 17:00 (CET)

    The African continent has a rapidly growing, young and urban population, with more than two-thirds of residents of its largest cities under the age of 30. How these cities evolve will depend on the ability of the youth to understand local challenges and shape urban development with their ideas.

    This event showcased the short documentary Scenes from the Dry City, and convened a panel of experts active with water in African cities to discuss how films can be used as an education and communication tool to engage diverse audiences, especially young people, stimulate conversation and make complex information accessible to a large audience.

  • Moderator: Ms Linda Lilienfeld, Creator and Director, Let’s Talk About Water 

    Panel discussion:
  • Ms Maria Salvetti, Economist and Water Policy Analyst, OECD
  • Mr Nick van de Giesen, Van Kuffeler Chair of Water Resources Engineering, Delft University 
  • Ms Mahen Bonetti, Founder and Executive Director, African Film Festival
  • Mr Odwa N. Mtembu, Founder, World Merit South Africa  


  • Watch the video recording:


Friday 26 March 

  • Water governance for peace, 11:00 – 13:00 (CET)
    Co-hosted with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Vatican 

  • Introductory Remarks: Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, Holy See
  • Moderator: Mr Tebaldo Vinciguerra, Official, Sector “Ecology and Creation”, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Holy See

  • Ms Oriana Romano, Head of Unit, Water Governance and Circular Economy, Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities, OECD 
  • Eng Olcay Unver, Professor of Practice, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Polytechnic School, Environmental and Resource Management Program, Arizona State University; former Vice-Chair, UN-WATER
  • Sr Alessandra Smerilli, Professor of Political Economy, Pontifical Faculty of Educational Sciences Auxilium, Rome, and Coordinator of the Economics Task Force of the Vatican COVID-19 Commission
  • Mr Gidon Bromberg, Director, EcoPeace Middle East
  • Ms Martina Klimes, Water and Peace Advisor, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)

    Closing Remarks:
  • Fr Joshtrom Kureethadam, Coordinator, Sector “Ecology and Creation”, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Holy See, Professor of Philosophy of Science and Director of the Institute of Social and Political Sciences at the Salesian Pontifical University, Rome


  • Watch the video recording: