Address by former president Nelson Mandela during the opening of the WaterDome, WSSD, 28 August 2002 
NO WATER NO FUTURE - Wednesday, August 28, 2002 3:26:24 PM



Your Royal Highness

Your Excellencies

Distinguished Guests

Friends for Sustainable Life on our Planet

Ladies and Gentlemen



When I return, as I often do, to the rural village and area of my childhood and youth, the pov-erty of the people and the devastation of the natural environment painfully strike me. And in that impoverishment of the natural environment, it is the absence of access to clean water that strikes most starkly. That our government has made significant progress in bringing potable water nearer to so many more people than was previously the case, I rate amongst the most important achievements of democracy in our country.

Amongst the many things I learnt, as a president of our country, was the centrality of water in the social, political and economic affairs of the country, continent and indeed the world.

I am, therefore, a totally committed “water person”.

And it is together with my two “water friends”, His Royal Highness the prince of Orange and His Excellency Ambassador Salim Ahmed Salim, that I stand here in front of you for the opening of the WaterDome. It gives me great pleasure to share this platform and perform this ceremonial function with them.

This official act of opening the WaterDome will be done by the three of us together, symboliz-ing the cooperation we need to put water higher on the political and social agenda. And I want to call on all of you here to help make water a lead sector of co-operation for develop-ment in the world.

The WaterDome itself is a symbol for cooperation in the water sector. Over 70 organisations from the public as well as the private sector are present here. They are here to demonstrate how we are working together to make access to water a basic right for all human beings.

The water sector has made good progress in co-operation towards that objective. We are here together under one roof, the biggest freestanding structure in Africa, promoting stakeholder dialogue and cooperation. Nobody expects us to be in agreement on all policies; nobody is forced to do anything they do not want to; but we all realise that we are working in our own different ways towards achieving a common goal. That is what we are presenting collectively to the world during the Summit here in Johannesburg.

My young friend here, His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange is doing excellent work to keep the focus on water – amongst others as chair of the 2nd World Water Forum in The Hague two years ago and with his excellent paper ‘No Water No Future’ , prepared for Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Africa is fortunate that it can count on people like Ambassador Salim Ahmed Salim to put water in an African perspective. 

It is thanks to people like yourselves that we are united to make the World Water Vision come true.

We must applaud the initiative of the African Water Task Force to organize the WaterDome. It is a sign of real leadership.

In just 6 months you have ensured that water has been placed firmly on the world agenda here in Johannesburg.

And I am confident that you will not let it rest here. You must ensure that at the 3rd World Water Forum in Kyoto next year the commitments made here in Johannesburg are monitored and followed up.

I would now like to invite my two colleagues to join me to press this button and in doing so formally open the WaterDome.

I wish you all well and hope for a successful week here in Johannesburg at the WaterDome.

I thank you.