Unprecedented and interactive, the Parliamentarian Water Help Desk is an initiative that consists of a data base containing international water legislation and scientific information that will provide a common ground for parliamentarians and other stakeholders on water issues. Through a network of experts on international water legislation, it will develop, among other products, guidelines for parliamentarians around the globe.
The idea of a Parliamentarian help desk for water issues is a joint effort of the IUCN Environmental Law Centre (ELC) and World Water Council. The concept was launched at the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul, where it was received with great interest by parties present in the forum.
Discussions about the helpdesk and its implementation have already been going on for some time. The first concrete step in this direction was taken by a working group within the World Water Council during the Parliamentarians’ Water Forum in the Arab World and Surrounding Countries, organized by the Council in Beirut, Lebanon, on 13-14 May, under the auspices of the Lebanese National Assembly.
Dr Alan Nicol, Director of Policy and Programmes at the World Water Council outlined the origin and functions of the helpdesk initiative. Later on three parallel roundtables addressed core questions and proposed recommendations for the operationalisation of the helpdesk.
Dr. Alejandro Iza, Director of the IUCN Environmental Law Centre, presented a technical paper addressing International Water Law during the forum. One of the key issues stressed by Dr. Iza was that political support from governments is crucial for implementing change through legal reform, which in turn is of paramount importance to build capacities for good water governance.
The willingness to look for solutions on important direct and indirect water issues, such as the effects of water in climate change adaptation and the prevention of conflicts on transboundary water resources, was perceived as an essential step towards a more sustainable model of development. In this context, the helpdesk was viewed by both the parliamentarian and technical experts as a vehicle for positive change.