CS1 Good Governance

Key organisations :
Water Integrity Network, International Office for Water

The current “water crisis” is not a crisis of scarcity but a crisis of mismanagement, with strong governance features. The water sector is affected by numerous external drivers (population growth, changes in consumption and production patterns etc.) and has profound externalities on other policy domains (health, poverty alleviation, agriculture, energy etc.). In this context, achieving the Millennium Development Goals and facing water global challenges despite economic recession and increasing environmental pressure, requires innovative policy to “do better with less” and overcome barriers to effective implementation on-the-ground. Improving water governance is therefore a key topic in the political agenda worldwide, and a prerequisite for fairer, cleaner, sustainable and efficient water resources management and service delivery.
In many developed, developing, water-rich and water-scarce countries, water governance is still in a state of confusion. Regardless of institutional characteristics (federal v. unitary), common challenges usually observed include the followings: fragmented institutional structures, unclear allocation of roles and responsibilities, questionable resource allocation, patchy financial management, low implementation capacity at local level, weak accountability and transparency, lack of knowledge and awareness of rights, imprecise regulatory, legislative and integrity frameworks, unpredictable investment climate for private actors, and poor performance measurement. These governance challenges are more or less acute across and within countries, but frequently proceed from the water sector intrinsic characteristics and complex and fragmented institutional settings. Hence the need to investigate the water “black-box” to understand the exercise of political, economic and administrative authority at different territorial levels, i.e. who is in charge of what and how water is managed.
Well aware of the absence of “optimum” or universal blueprint to achieve “good governance” in the water sector, this Core Group seeks to propose concrete, measurable and achievable solutions for creating the conditions of success in terms of (i) effective public governance and institutions, (ii) integrated management and (iii) better integrity and transparency in the water sector. To do so, the working group will build on existing evidence, tools, methodologies, experimentations, and good practices worldwide to design realistic roadmaps and action plans:

including diagnostic tools to identify institutional, legislative and regulatory bottlenecks and adopt relevant place-based policy responses;
encouraging decision-making that integrate actors at international, national, local, basin and sub-basin levels;
fostering the adoption of relevant mechanisms capacity building, monitoring and evaluation;
enhancing IWRM based on national frameworks, implemented at different hydrological levels, and integrating a clear vision of water resources uses, evolutions, quantity and quality;
promoting relevant instruments for water security diagnoses in view of demographic, geographic and urbanisation challenges;
supporting the promotion of integrity while mapping potential corruption risks and sharing nation-specific experience in tackling them

The related targets have been set up as key steps to achieve the abovementioned outcomes.