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ITU called on to enable ‘smart’ water management

ICT-based platforms will be integral to post-2015 development agenda 

Geneva, 16 April 2013 – Participants in an ITU workshop held for the benefit of government and private-sector technology leaders in the Nile River Basin have agreed a Call to Action which charges ITU with mobilizing its global membership to enable ‘smart’ water management.

The ‘smart’ integration of information and communication technology (ICT) in water networks adds communication, monitoring, analysis and control capabilities, increasing efficiency and reliability in water supply, improving delivery of water to crucial sectors like agriculture and health, and reducing water consumption and waste.

The ITU workshop ‘ICT as an enabler for smart water management’, was held in Luxor, Egypt, from 14-15 April 2013, hosted by Egypt’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. The event was the first of its kind, and reflects the growing importance and acceleration of smart-water standardization work in ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T).

Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General, ITU: “The importance of sufficient supplies of good quality water is recognized in the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), one of which is to halve the number of people without safe access to water by 2015. One of the many ways in which ICT will be central to the post-2015 development agenda is through supporting greater agility and efficiency in water management frameworks.”

Economic growth, climate change and rising populations are all affecting the availability of water resources. According to UN estimates, 85 per cent of the world’s population lives in the driest half of the planet; 783 million people do not have access to clean water; almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation; and 6-8 million people die annually from the consequences of water-related disasters and diseases.

Opening the workshop, Malcolm Johnson, Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU, called on stakeholders represented at the event, including international and regional organizations; environment, agriculture, irrigation and communications ministries; government agencies; utilities regulators; the technology industry; and academia, to agree on actions that will help countries in the Nile River Basin, and others around the world facing similar challenges, to implement best practices and technologies for smart water management.

Welcoming participants, Dr Awr Badawi, Executive President, National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA), Egypt, emphasized that he counted on ITU to place this topic high on its agenda and to mobilize experts through its different study groups, focus groups, and other entities.  

The workshop concluded with a Call to Action which encourages ITU to collaborate with policy makers, water authorities, and relevant international and regional organizations, to:

  • Lead with vision in developing and fostering the adoption of international standards, best practices, and policies for smart water management that improve both water and energy footprints, taking into account life cycle assessments
  • Evaluate countries’ water footprint, standard performance indicators, and industry best practices for smart water management and help countries to better utilize their water resources
  • Standardize: the methodologies for estimating the impact of ICTs on water conservation to help reduce water consumption; the ICT applications and services for smart water management so as to ensure interoperability and benefit from economies of scale; the use of geographic 3D modelling of geospatial data for use in geographical information systems and on the Internet; an Open Data platform to enable interoperability of smart water solutions; and a common communication protocol.
  • Think sustainable: bridge the gap between experts from the ICT, water, and energy sectors and policy makers, to encourage the integration of ICT into water and energy policies in order to improve knowledge on the state of water availability and consumption, increase environmental resilience, tackle climate change impacts, and enhance energy efficiency and water demand management.  Promote the use of open data platforms in water management to empower innovation. 
  • Shape the global agenda by campaigning for the integration of ICT policies in the ongoing dialogue on smart water management in organizations such as UN Water, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The full text of the Call to Action is available here.

For more information, please contact:

Sarah Parkes
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, ITU
telephone +41 22 730 6039
email sarah.parkes@itu.int
Toby Johnson
Senior Communication Officer, ITU
telephone +41 22 730 5877
mobile +41 79 249 4868
email toby.johnson@itu.int
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