The Islamic Conference of Ministers Responsible for Water was held in Istanbul, Republic of Turkey during the period 05-06 March, 2012 under the theme “Working Together for a Water Secure Future”. The Conference was hosted by the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs of the Republic of Turkey. Ministers, Deputy Ministers and high level officials from 28 Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), OIC Institutions, Observers and international organizations participated in the Conference. The aim of the Conference was to provide an opportunity for the Ministers and Representatives of the OIC Member States to review and adopt the OIC Water Vision Document which has been prepared by an Advisory Panel of Experts, composed of prominent experts from all the OIC regions, and discuss major issues and challenges related to the implementation of the OIC Water Vision. Mr. Nabil Dabour, Director of Economic and Social Research Department, and Mr. Mazhar Hussain, Researcher, represented the Centre thereat.
The Meeting was inaugurated by H.E. Prof. Dr. Veysel Eroglu, Minister of Forestry and Water Affairs of the Republic of Turkey. In his address the honorable Minister welcomed the participants of the Conference and underlined the urgent need for cooperation and coordination at the national, regional and global level for promoting water related issues and addressing the challenges facing the OIC Member States in this area. He expressed the hope that OIC Water Vision will provide the basis for cooperation and collaboration on water issues among the OIC Member States. The inaugural statement of the OIC General Secretariat was delivered by H.E. Ambassador Abdul Moiz Bokhari, OIC Assistant Secretary General for Science and Technology. In his statement, he thanked the government of Turkey for hosting the Conference and warm hospitality extended to the participants. He underlined the need for collective response to the challenges of reliable access to water for health, livelihood, and production, as well as management of unpredictable water-related risks, which are becoming more pronounced due to population growth, depletion of resources, environmental degradation and the phenomenon of climate change.
After the election of the Bureau and adoption of the agenda of the Conference, Dr. Razely Nordin, Director of OIC Science and Technology Department and Mr. Fawzi Sultan, Chairman of the OIC Advisory Panel of Experts on Water Vision made presentations explaining the background of the OIC Water Vision, its objectives, the preparatory process, major challenges discussed in the Vision and the way forward. Afterwards, statements were made by the Ministers Responsible for Water and Heads of delegation of participating Member States. In their statements, they highlighted the water challenges facing their countries, their efforts to address those challenges and their expectations from the OIC Water Vision. After extensive discussion and deliberations the Meeting adopted the OIC Water Vision and the associated resolution of OIC Water Vision Document.
A Roundtable discussion on the implementation of the OIC Water Vision was held on the 2nd day of the Conference. This Roundtable discussion facilitated the identification of specific areas for cooperation in terms of exchange of experiences, best practices and capacity building activities. It also provided an opportunity for discussions about the modalities and means for collaboration and linkages among centers of excellence/national institutions within the OIC Member States in water science, policy, management and technology development.
During the Roundtable discussion, Mr. Nabil Dabour, Director of Economic and Social Research Department at SESRIC, briefed the participants about the SESRIC’s water-related activities. In his statement, he mentioned that SESRIC has established a comprehensive online database on OIC Member Countries covering various socio-economic areas and fields with more than 130 indicators including water-related indicators. He also mentioned that SESRIC has prepared several reports on major water issues in OIC countries with a view to analysing the prevailing situation at the OIC level and suggesting the appropriate policy actions that need to be taken in order to face the challenges and strengthen the intra-Islamic cooperation in this important area. Mr. Dabour also mentioned that SESRIC has also given a special importance to training and capacity building in this important field. Under the umbrella of its Vocational Education and Training Programme for OIC Member Countries (OIC-VET), water resource management is one of the main cooperation areas in two capacity building programmes initiated and designed by the Centre with the aim of enhancing capacities of human resources in the Member States. These capacity building programmes are: OIC Agriculture Capacity Building Programme (OIC-AgriCaB) and Environment Capacity Building Programme (EnvironmentCaB). In this connection, he expressed the willingness and readiness of SESRIC to play an active role in facilitating exchanging the knowledge, experience and best practices in the domain of water among the member countries and thus contributing to the implementation of OIC Water Vision. Acknowledging the importance of activities of the SESRIC, the Meeting urged the Centre to utilize its expertise to collect information about water-related needs and capacities of the OIC Member States and develop a web portal to disseminate this information to all Member States as well as to use them in organizing and implementing training activities in the field of water in the member countries. The Conference welcomed the offer of the Republic of Turkey to host the next OIC Conference of Ministers Responsible for Water in 2014.