WIN Partner Feature

Special issue for the World Water Week

From the High Level Political Forum, to World Water Week in Stockholm, from scrutiny of services, to preparations for the future, fair and sustainable water solutions are increasingly elevated on the international agenda. WIN has asked several partners about their work, and what immediate actions they see as crucial to help ensure water integrity across the globe. This is what our partners End Water Poverty, Inter-American Development Bank, International Water Management Institute,Stockholm International Water Institute, Water Witness International and World Resources Institute have to say!

End Water Poverty (EWP)

Credit: LNW Consulting

What do you believe is the unique selling point of your organization’s work in the WASH sector?

Although there are numerous WASH coalitions, End Water Poverty’s focus on human rights to safely managed water and sanitation has enabled the coalition to lead on accountability work within the sector. In July 2018, we (in partnership with WSSCC, Watershed Consortium, Coalition Eau and with the support of Sanitation and Water for All) launched a global report on national accountability mechanisms. End Water Poverty is always keen to work with its members as well as non-WASH organisations in order to deliver key messages for SDG6. Through Water Action Month (our annual campaign), we are able to engage civil society organizations and non-government organizations around the world, amplifying a united and global voice ahead of, during and after World Water Day.  Our members are very important to us!. Each month, we provide a platform for one of our members to showcase their work and provide them with the visibility they require.

Do you have any brief thoughts/takeaway about the High Level Political Forum in relation to SDG6?

Overall what struck us the most was the huge emphasise only on water. Sanitation and hygiene were left out from the main session during the first day of the HLPF. We were hoping to see or hear more discussions around the interlinkages between Goal 6 and the other Sustainable Development Goals and issues (such as health, education and hygiene) but unfortunately this was also missing. The word ‘accountability’ was used countless times during HLPF sessions and side events. However, there were no solutions or details provided (not even a definition). But we were very grateful to have a side event at the HLPF, hosted by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN to launch our recent report on national accountability mechanisms. During this event, we presented on what accountability means, the findings of the report as well as recommendations per stakeholder (governments, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), development partners and UN agencies). You can read our report here.  More information on our event(s) at the World Water Week are available here.

What do you want to see coming out of the World Water Week?

We hope that the World Water Week will push for more accountability for progress towards the SDGs that involves all stakeholders. We are already three years into the Sustainable Development Goal Agenda and we cannot afford to lag behind.  The theme for the World Water Week this year is: Water, Ecosystems, and human development. We hope, that in the spirit of this theme, the World Water Week will have focused discussions on how to create links between the different sub themes of the water sustainable development goal objective and other topics such as health, education, gender.

What do you hope to see as an impactful change in the next year?

We hope to see the strengthening and development of national and regional advocacy strategies across regions in the pursuit to reach Goal 6 and our human rights to WASH. Unfortunately, many strategies and policies are still not aligned or have not been implemented. We would like for CSOs to have a voice and be part of the discussions on how to reach the SDGs, especially around accountability for the SDGs, such as being part of accountability platforms for the SDGs. Finally, we would like for all stakeholders to delve into the linkages between Goal 6 and all other SDGs in order to emphasise the importance of thinking outside silos and have a holistic approach in the way we implement our common development agenda.

What would be your target/action/goal for achieving water integrity? With whom would you like to engage to achieve it?

Through strong national accountability mechanisms and advocating for the human rights, we will be able to achieve water integrity. Our main goal will be to show how these key issues can be used to accelerate and frame our common progress.

 

Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)

What do you believe is the unique selling point of your organization’s work in the WASH sector?

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has been working in the WASH sector in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) for more than 60 years. Our scope of intervention goes beyond financing and we also provide expertise and knowledge to a range of actors (public institutions, civil society organizations, private companies) using a multi-sectoral approach that has positioned the IDB as a long-running partner for improving lives in LAC.

Credit: Inter-American Development Bank, Project in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

What do you want to see coming out of the World Water Week?

We hope that through the discussions that we will host in this year’s Eye on LAC, we will contribute to the progress of LAC towards a wiser combination of green and traditional infrastructure in order to satisfy the water needs of the 21st century. We hope this is going to be a key topic for meaningful changes in the years to come.

What would be your target/action/goal for achieving water integrity? With whom would you like to engage to achieve it?

 The official IDB Water and Sanitation Sector Framework identifies governance as a key dimension for success.  The lines of action for the future are:
* Develop mechanisms for governments to prioritize the sector and strengthen the institutional framework (sectoral structure, public policies, institutions, resources).
* Support the implementation of actions that promote mechanisms of transparency and accountability in service operators and sectoral agencies. And ensure that reliable information systems are promoted in the countries for the design of public policies, regulation and control. 
From an operative perspective, one of the main activity will be to keep on providing technical assistance in developing and implementing frameworks and tools on transparency and corporate governance with and for regulators and service providers. This would include enhancing information management systems, communication and claim mechanisms with and for the public including systems for accountability and coordination among the different sector agencies.

International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

Credit: International Water Management Institute, “Fortifer” plant in Accra where fecal sludge and municipal solid waste are converted into an organic fertilizer.

What do you believe is the unique selling point of your organization’s work in the WASH sector?

IWMI is able to approach the sanitation sector from the reuse end with a thorough understanding of the agricultural market for resource recovery and reuse, bringing a business and circular economy perspective to WASH (Otoo and Drechsel, 2018), in particular for fecal sludge management from on-site sanitation systems (Rao et al., 2016).  IWMI adds a broader water resources management perspective including in emergency and post-emergency situations, as made evident by our recent work in South Sudanese refugee settlements in Northern Uganda, as well as attention to the overall governance dynamics and WASH gender dimension.

Do you have any brief thoughts/takeaway about the High Level Political Forum in relation to SDG6?

Detailed evidence makes it clear that we are not on track to reach SDG6. To tackle the growing water challenges, we must:
1) modernize our water economics paradigm to fully recognize water scarcity while ensuring its sustainability;
2) move towards circular thinking to manage the full water cycle by capturing and recycling water resources; and
3) embrace the politics, revisit the rules of the game, and ensure that our policies align with our goals.
Most importantly, we need to embrace the interconnections, both in terms of managing trade-offs and seizing synergies throughout the different SDGs.

What do you want to see coming out of the World Water Week?

Policy makers are increasingly comfortable with the idea of nature-based solutions. Hopefully there will be more clear and concrete examples of what these look like for the ‘water sector’ at the World Water Week, so they can interpret well, where and how to use them. Moreover it would be useful to know  the relative pros and cons of co-developing engineered and natural infrastructure,  and what these mean in real investments. We look forward to more exchange on where the different complementarities lie and how do we determine the right balance and economic trade-offs.  We believe it is very important to be clear and explicit on what such ‘nature-based solutions’ represent over conventional approaches.

What do you hope to see as an impactful change in the next year?

It would be very useful to have a global dashboard on progress against the SDG6 targets that is easily accessible and presented in different formats (graphically and geographically). Such a dashboard could offer insights on linkages within and across SDGs to identify tradeoffs and synergies. For example, a thorough study of the relative impact of corruption in the water sector could give important insights on how corruption influences the overall achievement of SDGs. Moreover, such a global representation  would be very useful in scrutiny, transparency and identification of trends.

What would be your target/action/goal for achieving water integrity? With whom would you like to engage to achieve it?

Achieving water integrity is much more than setting up a target, an action point, or a goal; Collective action is paramount in promoting water integrity (Suhardiman et al. 2017) and that means we need more strategic alliances involving various government ministries, civil society organizations, academic and research institutions, political party representatives and local governing bodies for the shaping of a grounded and meaningful anti-corruption strategy. Placing social justice at the core of the anti-corruption agenda is key to transforming the dominant perception of corruption from a prevalent social norm to a cultural stigma (Suhardiman and Mollinga, 2017).
References
Otoo, M., Drechsel, P. (Eds.) 2018. Resource recovery from waste: Business models for energy, nutrient and water reuse in low-and middle-income countries. Oxon, UK: Routledge-Earthscan.
Rao, Krishna C., Kvarnstrom, E., DiMario, L., Drechsel, P. 2016. Business models for fecal sludge management. Colombo, Sri Lanka: IWMI. CGIAR Research Program on Water Land and Ecosystem (WLE). Resource Recovery and Reuse Series 06.
Suhardiman, D., Nicol, A., Mapedza, E. (Eds.). 2017. Water governance and collective action: Multi-scale challenges. London, UK: Earthscan.
Suhardiman, D., Mollinga, P. P. 2017. Institutionalised corruption in Indonesian irrigation: An analysis of the upeti system. Development Policy Review 35(S2): 140-159.
IWMI contributors (in alphabetical order) include: Alan Nicol, Claudia Sadoff, Diana Suhardiman, Mark Smith, Matthew McCartney, Meredith Giordano, and Pay Drechsel

Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI)

Credit: Pilar Avello, Stockholm International Water Institute, Water Governance El Salvador

What do you believe is the unique selling point of your organization’s work in the WASH sector?

SIWI is a global water institute that works to improve the governance of our vulnerable water resources. We conduct research, share knowledge, help develop policy, and support the implementation of programmes that contribute to various international agendas at a global level. Our ability to bring the right people together underpins all these – most evident during World Water Week, organized by SIWI. Our focus is on strengthening the governance of freshwater resources globally, regionally, nationally, and locally. Our work is underpinned and guided by our core values – passion, integrity, inclusiveness, and quality. In partnership with UNICEF, SIWI has extensive experience in assessing «accountability» in WASH and in building institutionalised capacities in that field. Through ground programmes, SIWI bridges gaps between advanced knowledge and policy, between governance practitioners and decision makers.

Do you have any brief thoughts/takeaway about the High Level Political Forum in relation to SDG6?

More time is needed to discuss water issues than only a 3 hour meeting every year. A lot of countries are in a position to prioritize WASH but they lack financial resources and capacity. It has become clear for the majority of countries that SDG6 is essential to achieve other SDGs and targets, but how to achieve and operationalize this remains a challenge.

What do you want to see coming out of the World Water Week?

That participants understand that Water Governance is about getting the institutions and incentives right so that we attract and improve the investments and infrastructure. Water is as much about politics as it is about physics. We will get more and better water from the TAP approach: Transparency, Accountability (availability, accessibility) and Participation.

What do you hope to see as an impactful change in the next year?

Water governance is taken much more seriously, with rigor and investments in better governance institutions.

What would be your target/action/goal for achieving water integrity? With whom would you like to engage to achieve it?

We believe regulators have a key role and responsibility in promoting higher standards on water integrity. Our target action would be to develop better tools and mechanisms to help regulatory bodies and water utilities to easy walk the path for better integrity management.

 

Water Witness International(WWI)

    Credit: Water Witness International, Community ‘water witnesses’
hold duty bearers to account in Zambia

What do you believe is the unique selling point of your organization’s work in the WASH sector?

Water Witness International (WWI) was set up to tackle the crisis of water governance head on. Our work is not solely focused on WASH, but rather the sustainable management of water resources which underpins availability and quality for people, agriculture, industry and ecosystems. We work to address the root causes of poor water management by investigating, innovating and influencing decision makers. Through our work on social accountability monitoring and water stewardship, we work with water users at the community level and in the private sector to shine a light on what’s really happening, demand accountability and challenge the status quo.

Do you have any brief thoughts/takeaway about the High Level Political Forum in relation to SDG6?

We’re encouraged that the HLPF has acknowledged the centrality of governance to tackling the world’s water challenges, however the call to implement integrated water resources management (IWRM) lacks sufficient reflection on progress to date. Despite longstanding international commitment to IWRM, the global average degree of implementation is only 48% and in many countries progress has slowed or reversed. If we’re to reach the 2030 target of full implementation of IWRM at all levels, we must interrogate the barriers to progress, starting with a better understanding of the conditions that foster the political will necessary for implementation. Without understanding why we’ve failed in the past, what chance do we have for future success?

What do you want to see coming out of the World Water Week?

Having regularly attended World Water Week for the past decade, we’ve witnessed the widespread embrace of corporate water stewardship despite limited evidence of impact for the poor and the environment. Last year, fresh off of IUCN and ODI’s stocktake of water stewardship, we were part of a broader call for corporates and donors to demonstrate a real shift from business-as-usual through credible and transparent independent evaluations. While initiatives such as the Alliance for Water Stewardship are showing great promise, improved monitoring and evaluation is needed to understand what is working, and what is not. We think this year we’ll see whether the stewardship community has heeded this call to demonstrate greater impact, or if we’re locked into an ongoing circus of “bluewash”.

What do you hope to see as an impactful change in the next year?

The water sector and the broader development community face the risk of backsliding amidst the current downgrading of the global political debate. Bad things are happening out there. In the past year we’ve witnessed the unraveling of joint water sector dialogue processes in places like Tanzania – important platforms for improving harmonization and accountability in the sector and tracking results. Meanwhile in Zambia, donors continue to invest despite the fact that the Permanent Secretary at the helm of the Ministry of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection in Zambia has been exposed as a fraud.
We face a tremendous challenge in shifting attention back to the real threats which undermine global peace and prosperity – water and environmental crises, climate change, poverty and inequality. In the next year we would like to see development partners reaffirm and fulfill their promises under the Paris Declaration on harmonization, alignment and mutual accountability and double-down on efforts to weed out corruption and shoddy aid.

What would be your target/action/goal for achieving water integrity? With whom would you like to engage to achieve it?

There is consensus that better governance and effective water institutions are at the crux improving water security, and that accountability monitoring and advocacy by citizens and civil society offers promise to increase integrity and improve institutional performance in the sector. Our goal is to ensure water security for vulnerable communities through well-informed and strategically targeted action to strengthen citizen voice, accountability and advocacy – underpinned by solid research and evidence. We seek to engage with the growing community of practitioners applying social accountability approaches across the water sector to empower citizens, improve service delivery, and drive better governance to achieve SDG6.

 

World Resources Institute (WRI)

Credit: Divyakant Solanki,
WIN photo competition 2018

What do you believe is the unique selling point of your organization’s work in the WASH sector?

WRI brings a critical governance lens to WASH sector challenges. We specifically focus on transparency and access to all forms of water information and data, inclusive and equitable participation and citizen driven approaches that can be used to address the environmental, health, and socio-economic impacts of unequal water service delivery.

Do you have any brief thoughts/takeaway about the High Level Political Forum in relation to SDG6?

Political will to drive WASH solutions is critical. Open government approaches can help solve the power imbalances and poor governance that have led to water access and water quality inequality. International and government leaders must, not only strengthen their own national integrated water resources management (IWRM) policies and plans but foster an enabling environment that drives implementation. They must provide inclusive opportunities for local communities and civil society to have voice in the process and ensure solutions are reaching all citizens.

What do you want to see coming out of the World Water Week?

Tackling today’s water challenges will require more than improving infrastructure and stepping up investments. I hope we can use World Water Week to break down the siloes across water management and governance and find opportunities to work together to address fragmented resource management, corruption and inadequate, unequal access to clean water that communities rely on for their lives and livelihoods.

What do you hope to see as an impactful change in the next year?

Government adopt targeted and feasible open government reforms that help strengthen institutional capacity, facilitate coordination between stakeholders and resolve communication breakdowns to promote more reliable, efficient water delivery and improve water quality. At the same time local communities and civil society are able to strengthen their ability to use their right to information to participate more effectively in WASH decisions and hold their government and service delivery providers accountable.

What would be your target/action/goal for achieving water integrity? With whom would you like to engage to achieve it?

WRI is thrilled to be working with WIN, SIWI and the Open Government Partnership  to create a Community of Practice on Water and Open Government. Bringing together water and open government experts from around the world, we hope to facilitate knowledge sharing and the development of innovative, cross-sector approaches that leverage transparency, inclusive participation and accountable decision-making to improve water management and service delivery. I hope more civil society, multilateral institutions and government officials join us and actively work to create opportunities to influence and create exciting new reforms.

What can you do?

You can take simple steps to launch an integrity change process. Here are the tools to help you.

Stay informed

Sign up for our newsletter for bimonthly updates on the activities of the network worldwide.

Tell us your story

Are you promoting water integrity in your organization or in your region? Tell us how and help the network learn from your achievements.

Learn from experience

See how people and organizations are changing the water sector with integrity.

The Trillion Dollar Question