Water stewardship initiatives are partnerships, most often including private sector or industrial partners, set up to address specific shared water challenges, often at catchment or basin level. Water stewardship initiatives can be a powerful form of collective action to address water security issues, benfitting from funding and capacity not generally available to public or social initiatives.
To work effectively they need to balance the complex power relations and water allocation needs of different partners. They also have to do this while ensuring sustainability and maintaining alignment with local and national policy for water resource management.
This is not straightforward. There is significant potential for disagreement, poor implementation, and capture (of organisational resources and investment, of internal capacity, or of regulatory processes and political influence). Success depends on trust between stakeholders and trust from the wider community.
Integrity is a crucial ingredient to build this trust and address critical, yet overlooked integrity risks that can otherwise undermine water stewardship work and erode credibility.
With support from GIZ, WIN launched a project looking at water stewardship processes and the integrity risks associated with them. The aim is to improve integrity risk management in water stewardship partnerships and activities to ensure
- they deliver benefits to all partners;
- they do not exacerbate integrity and corruption risk in water management and services delivery, or water resource management;
- and they gain in effectiveness, in line with sustainable water resource management objectives and human rights obligations.
This initiative builds on the work of WIN, the CEO Water Mandate, Pacific Institute, Water Witness International, Partnerships in Practice, Pegasys, and the International Water Stewardship Programme, identifying major internal integrity risks of water stewardship initiatives.
Through an analysis of integrity practices within stewardship initiatives and a literature review of lessons learnt related to the activities of water sstewardship initiatives across the globe, the project explains how integrity should be embedded within water stewardship initiatives, and highlights the main instruments available to build trust among stakeholders and ensure greater effectiveness for sustainable water resource management.
The Guide for Managing Integrity in Water Stewardship Initiatives
More integrity > more trust > more effective water stewardships (blog post)