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ISO standards offer solutions at 6th World Water Forum

by Maria Lazarte on
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ISO Focus+, 1/2012
How ISO standards can offer solutions to vital water challenges is at the heart of a workshop to be held on 13 March 2012 in conjunction with the 6th World Water Forum, in Marseille, France – one of the world’s largest events on the subject.

The workshop, "How can ISO standards address global water challenges?," will focus on ISO’s tools for the assessment, improvement and management of service activities for drinking water and wastewater systems and for asset management, which can help water authorities and operators meet the expectations of consumers and the principles of sustainable development.

It will also look at water management during crisis conditions. And as water scarcity becomes a vital issue for many, the workshop will present ISO’s most recent work on the reuse of treated wastewater for irrigation, which aims to prevent any adverse impacts on public health and the environment.

The World Water Forum (WWF) mobilizes creativity, innovation, competence and know-how in favour of water. It gathers all stakeholders around today’s local, regional and global issues to tackle the challenges our world is facing and to bring water high on all political agendas. More than 25 000 participants are expected to attend the event which will take place in Marseille, France from 12 to 17 March 2012.

Loic Fauchon, President of the World Water Council, one of the organizers of the WWF, highlighted the importance of standards in an interview in ISO’s magazine, saying, “The existence of common guidelines defined by these standards helps promote the understanding of a problem, as well as communication amongst different international players. It is also important to capitalize on the know-how, and to formalize it in a ‘good practice guide’ in the form of International Standards, thus contribution to capacity-building.” ISO Focus+, January, 2009. (Read the full interview)

In addition to the workshop organized by ISO and facilitated by AFNOR (ISO member for France), experts from ISO committees developing water standards will also participate in other sessions of the forum, such as good governance, and crisis management

Although essential for life, water supplies are burdened by drought, water shortages, climate change, contamination and pollution, the requirements of large cities, intensive irrigation and a growing population with higher standards of living. Water challenges cut across boundaries and require a global response.

ISO standards offer harmonized technology, terminology and best practice, so that countries sharing the same water resources can work together efficiently and effectively. They are powerful tools for sharing proven global solutions with all regions of the world.

Because of the important contribution that International Standards can make to addressing this vital and global challenge, water has become one of ISO’s strategic priorities.

Of ISO’s more than 19 000 International Standards, over 550 relate specifically to water. They tackle issues like service management of drinking and wastewater systems, water supply during crisis situations, irrigation, quality and conservation (e.g. hydrometry, quality sampling, water footprint) and infrastructure (e.g. pipes, valves, metering).

ISO works closely with key stakeholders in the water field to ensure the relevance and market uptake of its standards, consolidating contributions from industry, government, research, academia, international organizations and NGOs.