By: Parth V. Kamath (email@example.com)
On 20-21 June 2019, the Water Youth Network (WYN) was in attendance at the 12th Meeting of the OECD Water Governance Initiative (WGI) held in Berlin, Germany. This annual meeting was hosted by the OECD and its Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities (CFE). The overarching objective of this meeting aligns with the Brasilia Multi-stakeholder Pledge. The Pledge signed by the global Coalition for Good Water Governance is an effort to develop good water governance mechanisms which can be adopted to achieve environmental sustainability along with economic growth and people’s well-being.
Delegates in attendance for the 12th Meeting of the OECD Water Governance Initiative
Major stakeholder groups represented by practitioners and policymakers present at this meeting were provided an update on the latest developments in terms of contribution made by the WGI to Global Agendas such as the SDGs, COP and Habitat III. Additionally, the two-day meeting involved sharing of knowledge and experience on the recent water governance reforms, research, and events.
The meeting was kicked-off with an official release of the report on ‘Applying the OECD Principles on Water Governance to Floods: A Checklist for Action’. This report was formulated with an idea to allow a seamless adoption of the OECD Principles on Water Governance in the flood governance systems. By increasing as well as improving multi-stakeholder dialogue in coordination with practical assessment of governance frameworks, this report acts as a self-assessment tool for stakeholders in flood management.
The OECD Principles on Water Governance to Floods in action
Prioritizing the role played by women as a key actor in the Water Decision-Making process, the preliminary findings from the ‘OECD – Women for Water Partnership’ were discussed by the delegates. Deliberations regarding the topic of ‘Women and Water Decision-making’ led to an important outcome for improving the methodology for the proposed survey and evidence collection process. The impact of gender inequality affecting the role of women within the data collection organisations was pointed out to be a key area that required extensive research followed up by action through formal water governance processes.
In continuation with the 11th meeting of WGI and subsequent workshop in The Hague, the key outcomes for further developing the programme of ‘Water Security for Sustainable Development in Africa’ was discussed. A two-way approach was agreed upon that targets building up of synergies between existing initiatives in the region and regional actors while also inviting donors and proposals for delivering data and case studies. The idea behind this approach was to assess the water policy and governance challenges faced in Africa.
Representatives from Argentina, Brazil and Peru provided an overview of the action taken by their respective governing bodies in order to adapt water governance policies to address challenges such as institutional arrangement overlooking the water sector, investment and planning outlook for sustainable economic growth. Some vital suggestions for improving the plan on moving forward were brought to the table by delegates from Spain and the Netherlands. More information regarding the initiatives undertaken in the Latin American countries shall be updated here once the official reports are released by the involved stakeholders. Understanding the impact of a simple yet robust water governance framework at national scale was showcased by the delegation from Germany. An outline of the influence of water governance in Germany on critical aspects such as water-sensitive urban development, holistic water infrastructure, and status of drinking water quality in the country was outlined by the German delegates.
With the growing need for improving integrity and eliminating corruption in the water and sanitation sector, the need for including transparency, accountability, participation, and anti-corruption measures (TAPA) as part of the water governance measures was put forth and agreed upon by the attendees. This initiative was also taken into consideration as one of the topics to advance along with the multi-sector policy coordination and inclusiveness in the preparatory process of the 9th World Water Forum to be held in Dakar in 2021.
Break-out discussion sessions on Working Groups of Indicators and Capacity Development
In conclusion, two parallel breakout sessions were organized for defining the future course for the Working Groups on Indicators and Capacity Development. These sessions were conducted with the sole focus of coming to a unanimous agreement on the scoping notes formulated for the activities of the WGI Programme of Work, 2019-2021. As part of the working group on capacity development, Water Youth Network indicated that targeting youth and women could prove beneficial in several ways. As increasing the participation of women in the water sector was a common concern, the need for involving youth as a stakeholder was missing. The modular approach defined in the scoping notes could prove to be a game-changer for all involved stakeholders. An exhaustive research could identify the gaps in the water sector where women and youth involvement could be increased as part of a dynamic institutional reform process. Thereafter, the strategies for capacity development could be formulated that bring about a multi-fold benefit in terms of increasing employment as well as empowerment of women and youth as separate stakeholders.