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Barcelona opts to be the UN world organisation for water management’s permanent base

The Catalan capital proposes an Art Nouveau pavilion in the former Sant Pau Hospital, located near the Sagrada Familia, as the organisation’s headquarters. The former St Pau Hospital pavilions will host in a few months several international organisations, such as an institute of the United Nations’ University and the European Forest Institute.


14 May 2012 11:16 PM


ACN / Lara Hitos

Barcelona (ACN).- Barcelona has presented its candidature to host the permanent headquarters of the World Global Operators\u2019 Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA), an organisation created by the Advisory Board of the General Secretariat of the United Nations to promote cooperation in the management of water resources. The Barcelona City Council, together with the Catalan and Spanish Governments, are proposing to host this world-level organization in one of the Art-Nouveau pavilions in the historical hospital of St Pau. This park of Art-Nouveau pavilions, located near the Sagrada Família, will already host other international organisations, such as an Institute of the United Nations University and the European Forest Institute. In addition, other international organisations, such as the WFO and WHO, or international networks, might base some of their offices there. Furthermore, the new Sant Pau Hospital facilites have been built next to the pavilions, and many research institutes are associated to the project.

Barcelona City Council asserted through a press release that this application highlights the city suitability for the public management of water, along with the heavy investment in R &D to improve the efficiency and savings of water resources. Barcelona\u2019s will is supported by the Spanish Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which will provide \u20AC1 million to the project. Private companies also welcomed the news and pledged to give \u20AC100,000 to the project if the office is finally established in Barcelona.

The GWOPA began to take shape in March 2006 with a recommendation about water and sanitary issues given by the Advisory Council of the General Secretary of the United Nations in the Hashimoto Action Plan. One of the aims of GWOPA was to promote water operator partnerships between public companies in order to exchange experiences and knowledge on water management so they could achieve international water-saving goals set in the Millennium Goals. UN-HABITAT led the creation of GWOPA in 2007 and established its headquarters in Nairobi (Kenya).

Now, in order to help the alliance to forge its own identity and gain autonomy and strength, it has been decided to separate it from the original organisation and open up the option to member state cities to host its headquarters. For this purpose, Barcelona competes with other applicants such as Dubai, Amsterdam and Istanbul, in a process which will be decided next June.


  • Some of the renovated Art-Nouveau pavillions, located next to the new hospital building (by Fundació Hospital de Sant Pau)

  • Some of the renovated Art-Nouveau pavillions, located next to the new hospital building (by Fundació Hospital de Sant Pau)