6th meeting of the OECD Water Governance Initiative (WGI)

Once again the WGI, a multi-stakeholder platform of +100 organizations gathered together for sharing on-going reforms, projects, lessons and good practices in support of better governance in water sector. 2015 was a turning point for the WGI. The 34 Ministries of OECD countries backed the Principles on Water Governance developed by WGI members, in an unprecedented bottom-up process for the OECD. Furthermore, for first time in the history, water issues were in the agenda of the discussion in the Highest Political Council, given the increasing relevance of water governance for sustainable development of a green economy and to strengthen climate adaptation efforts. The accomplishments during 2015 set the basis of a new working stage for the WGI: the preparation of both a “database on water governance” and a set of “water governance indicators” aimed at facilitating the implementation of these principles during the period 2016-2018

Just like principles were developed in a bottom-up fashion, there is also the political willingness to develop these indicators by means of a comprehensive participatory process. Therefore, developing governance indicators is not only a matter of technical and scientific effort, but it is also a policy dialogue process based on the cooperation logic of the OECD. This is not minor point. For those who have worked or researched in any matter regarding governance is well known that its definition and operationalization usually brings all kind of discussions. In an extreme situation, discussions might be difficult to handle without using the lens of realpolitik, such as transboundary water governance in regions with geopolitical tensions! But the core of the current discussion for the GWI is based on the principal mission of the OECD:  promoting policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the word. Then, water governance indicators should develop a transparent and reliable measures of institutional capabilities to improve water policy outcomes, in order to foster the implementation of the Water Governance Principles.

In the same direction, the OECD has prepared a general OECD Recommendation on Water aimed at integrating existing OECD legal instruments related to water. This time, the process is led by Committee of Environmental Policy. In legal terms, OECD “recommendations” have a higher status than “principles”. “Recommendations are not legally binding, but practice accords them great moral force as representing the political will of Member countries and there is an expectation that Member countries will do their utmost to fully implement a Recommendation”[1]. Thus the importance of the consultive process during March-April 2016, when WGI members will be invited to comment on the existing draft. Being the Water Youth Network (WYN) one of the +100 members of the WGI, has a unique position to express the voice of a community of students and young professionals involved in water issues.

Then, a final word on youth participation on the WGI. We stressed that the most of water governance problems are inter-temporal, which will be faced by future generations even if we take an action now. Therefore, it is needed to increase awareness of future decision makers’ responsibilities, starting from transferring governance capacities from current managers to youth professionals. Then, we the appointment of youth professionals as representatives of the diverse participating organizations of the WGI, particularly as official representatives of the member states. In this occasion, countries such as Netherlands and Hungary pointed youth professionals as speakers of their interests. Our commitment, as WYN, is taking an active outreach strategy, being this lines one of the contributions to communicate the lessons and good practices in support of better governance in water sector. Below the most relevant initiatives and documents presented during the 6th meeting of the OECD Water Governance Initiative (WGI), important resources for assuming our role as the next generation of water decision makers. The list is based on the draft report of the session, wrote by the Head of the Water Governance Programmed of the OECD.



The conceptual backing document of the OECD Principles on Water Governance and the principles in 15 languages: http://www.oecd.org/governance/oecd-principles-on-water-governance.htm

Inventory of water governance-related indicators and measurement frameworks from the inputs of the WGI members: http://www.oecd.org/gov/regional-policy/Inventory_Indicators.pdf

2016 Delta Program http://english.deltacommissaris.nl/delta-programme/contents/delta-programme-2016

Accountability in WASH: A reference guide for programming http://watergovernance.org/resources/accountability-in-wash-a-reference-guide-for-programming/

Cadwago Programme: Climate Change Adaptation and Water Governance http://www.cadwago.net/

Water Integrity Global Outlook 2015 http://programme.worldwaterweek.org/event/4430

“Municipalization” process of water services and sanitation in Paris http://www.lespetitsmatins.fr/collections/une-victoire-contre-les-multinationales-ma-bataille-pour-leau-de-paris/

Frontiers of Land and Water Governance in Urban Regions http://www.amazon.com/Frontiers-Governance-Regions-Routledge-Special/dp/1138911151

Governance Assessment Guide (Adapt to drought and water scarcity) http://www.dropproject.eu/about-drop/

Water and Climate: European Public Water Operators’ commitment to water resources http://www.aquapublica.eu/IMG/pdf/water_and_climate-en-19-10-2015.pdf


OECD Studies on Water http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/environment/oecd-studies-on-water_22245081

(Latest) Water Resource Governance in Brazil http://www.oecd.org/governance/regional-policy/water-resources-governance-in-brazil-9789264238121-en.htm


[1] http://www.oecd.org/legal/legal-instruments.htm