From the beginning, one of the priorities for the preparation of the 8th World Water Forum theme framework was social participation. To achieve this goal, the Brazilian government established a partnership between the Brazilian Water Agency (ANA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and launched “Your Voice“, a multilingual web platform which identifies 90 water issues. Since the beginning of organization and also during the WWF, the tool recorded contributions from people from more than 150 countries interested in the water issue.
With six online discussion rooms to promote interactions on the topics of Climate, People, Urban Environment, Ecosystems, Development and Financing, the platform had three rounds of discussions .
The first round took place between February and April 2017. Besides comments, it made a voting process possible, receiving 32 thousand votes to establish the priorities among the raised issues. The second round addressed multidisciplinary subjects related to water: Training, Sharing, Governance and Sustainability. This phase was carried out between June and August of last year. In 2018, the third and final phase, held between February and March, focused on the 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
According to the UN, which shared the results of the initiative during the Forum, the profile of participants in the “Your Voice” platform varied, as did the commitment of those who participated. Many participants collaborated frequently and returned to the discussion rooms with new posts, while others made postings and suggestions only once.
In general, water users have expressed their concerns about the right to access drinking water and sanitation, and the need for preservation of springs. Researchers and managers have made more technical contributions.
In addition, a team of experts from different parts of the world were responsible for the mediation of the discussions. The reports with the comments and proposals of internet users were sent to the Thematic Process Committee and used in several phases in order to set the themes of the sessions.
The 10 countries that had the most participants were Brazil, the United States, France, India, Japan, Portugal, the Netherlands, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Peru. Moreover, contrary to what one might think, the different languages were not a barrier to participation, since one of the platform features is automatic translation into more than 90 languages.
According to the Project Manager Global Online Consultant for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Romolo Tassone, there were more than 290 thousand visits to the platform, 2,413 comments and 90 water issues identified. From the 3,778 people who registered, 45% were women and 55% men from 193 countries. Another 2,197 people registered to receive the comments posted on the platform. “Each visit lasted more than 4 minutes on average, which is a good indicator of the commitment of the participants,” said Tassone.
As a result of the initiative, a request for the maintenance of the platform was made by the participants of the Special Session “Your Voice: Contributions of the online consultation platform – Results and Conclusions”, held at the 8th Forum, and by professor Davi Silva Fagundes, who used the “Your Voice” platform in his classroom as a teaching tool and mobilized his students to post comments.
Cheikh Tidiane Fau, a representative from the Senegalese delegation, host country of the 9th World Water Forum, in 2021, stated in an interview that the session on the “Your Voice” platform was very fruitful and he is thinking of implementing the platform in the next edition.
Content published in March 22, 2018