Barcelona (ACN).- Barcelona will host the permanent secretariat of the Global Water Operator’s Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA), the United Nations body in charge of water management and depending on UN-Habitat, the agency dealing with issues related to human settlements worldwide. GWOPA’s headquarters will be based in the historical site of the old Sant Pau Hospital, a group of Art-Nouveau pavilions that used to host a hospital. GWOPA offices will occupy one of those pavilions, which are earmarked to host several international organisations and thus transform Sant Pau Hospital’s historical site into a pool of such institutions. This Monday, an institutional ceremony was held to welcome the decision. The Catalan Minister for Sustainability, Lluís Recoder, stated that GWOPA “is not the first and neither will it be the last organisation to choose” Sant Pau for its headquarters. In fact, one institute of the United Nations University has already decided to settle in one of these Art-Nouveau pavilions in Catalonia’s capital. The official presentation of the new headquarters brought together representatives from the Barcelona City Council, the Catalan Government and the Spanish Government.
The Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, was “especially satisfied” with the news, which represents “an extraordinary push” for the old buildings of Sant Pau Hospital. “We are transforming this Art-Nouveau heritage into something with a public utility”, besides being a tourist attraction in its own right, underlined Trias. These pavilions were designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, one of the top representatives of Catalan Modernism, together with Antoni Gaudí and Josep Puig i Cadafalch.
The Spanish Deputy Minister for International Cooperation, Gonzalo Robles Orozco, stated that the Spanish Government has considered it “a priority” to have Barcelona as the base of this United Nations’ organisation. In addition, Robles Orozco underlined that being able to base the main offices in such Art-Nouveau pavilions “is a luxury”.
All the political representatives emphasised the positive cooperation among the different government levels involved in reaching the goal of basing GWOPA in Barcelona. In addition, they emphasised the private-public support the initiative has received, since the companies Agbar, Comsa-Emte, FCC and the Fundació Fòrum Ambiental will bring a total of €400,000 to the project (€100,000 each). In addition, the Spanish Government will bring €1.1 million per year.