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Fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on Water and Health

14 - 16 November 2016

Geneva, Switzerland


Highlights MOP

The fourth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on Water and Health took place on  14–16 November 2016 in Geneva.

The meeting was an important milestone in moving forward the water and health agenda in the pan-European region. It reviewed progress and main achievements of the past triennium in water, sanitation and health domain and adopted an ambitious programme of work for 2017–2019.

A special high-level session on the first day of the meeting fostered a strategic discussion on the different priorities and perspectives for closing the gaps of the pan-European water, sanitation and health agenda in the next fifteen years. It clearly highlighted how the Protocol can best fulfil its role in supporting countries and other stakeholders in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Protocol was recognized as a powerful platform that provides concrete tools to operationalize the achievement of the relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the national and regional contexts by promoting integration of policies, a holistic and preventive approach to water, sanitation and health and a focus on sustainable water management and equity issues.

The programme of work for the period 2017–2019 will further address the main challenges in the strategic areas of importance prioritized by Parties, namely setting targets and reporting, preventing and reducing water-related diseases, small-scale water supplies and sanitation and the equity of access. The new programme of work will also increase attention to the issues of safe sanitation and wastewater reuse, resilience to climate change, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools and health care facilities.

Main products

Eight new publications were launched at the meeting. A healthy link. The Protocol on Water and Health and the Sustainable Development Goals provides insights on how to benefit from the Protocol as a tool to implement the SDGs at national level.

The Collection of good practices and lessons learned on target setting and reporting under the Protocol on Water and Health aims at providing practical advice to countries that are in process of setting, revising, implementing or monitoring achievement of their national targets.

The situation of water, sanitation and hygiene in schools in the pan-European region summarizes the status of WASH in schools in the pan-European region. Together with Prioritizing pupils’ education, health and well-being. Water, sanitation and hygiene in schools in the pan-European region both publications underline how inadequate WASH in schools compromises pupils’ education, health and well-being and advocate for policy-makers to prioritize this in the context of the Protocol.

Taking policy action to improve small-scale water supply and sanitation systems. Tools and good practices from the pan-European Region aims to inspire practitioners and policy-makers who develop water supply and sanitation policies and programmes to consider improvement actions and formulating specific targets under the Protocol for small-scale systems. This is supported by Status of small-scale water supplies in the WHO European Region. Results of a survey conducted under the Protocol on Water and Health which summarizes the findings of a region-wide assessment of small-scale systems to inform policy-making and to identify further action under the Protocol.

The situation of water-related infectious diseases in the pan-European region provides a comprehensive review of the available evidence which reveals significant underreporting and underestimation of the true extent of water-related diseases in the pan-European region, indicating a need to strengthen national capacities for surveillance of these diseases.

The Guidance Note on the Development of Action Plans to Ensure Equitable Access to Water and Sanitation will help countries in translating priorities identified through assessing the situation of equitable access into concrete actions and ways of implementing them to reduce inequities.

Other main decisions

The Meeting of the Parties adopted a decision on reporting in accordance with article 7 of the Protocol, which revises the guidelines and template for summary reports in order to reflect the new developments of work under the Protocol, including in relation to the 2030 Agenda, as well as three decisions submitted by the Compliance Committee, including a decision on general issues of compliance.