The event, organised by GWP on behalf of the SDG 6 IWRM Support Programme (GWP with UNEP, UNEP-DHI Centre and UNDP Cap-Net), was the first in a series of exchanges that aims to boost progress towards SDG 6: “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all”. The participants were SDG 6.5.1 national focal points, national and sub national government officials, facilitators of IWRM processes, development partners, GWP representatives, and UN country directors.
The Learning Exchange event started with opening words from Joakim Harlin, Chief, Freshwater Ecosystems Unit and Chief Manager, UNEP-DHI Centre on Water & Environment, who emphasised the need to double the pace of IWRM implementation to reach the 2030 goals and stating that business as usual is not enough. Highlighting the importance of the event, he invited participants to share the good and bad experiences to be able to accelerate, and congratulated those who reported through the SDG 6.5.1 monitoring exercise on their challenges and solutions at the national level.
The event was also an opportunity for the SDG 6 IWRM Support Programme to present on how it assists countries to develop and implement IWRM action plans, including the IWRM Acceleration Package, the IWRM Action searcher which showcases the actions developed by countries to attract investors, a forthcoming online course on IWRM Action Planning, and a community of practice for all those interested in advancing on IWRM. During the Learning Exchange, three countries that have already developed an IWRM Action Plan had an opportunity to share their experiences:
- Vietnam, through Ha Hai Duong, Chief of Department of Water Resources and Climate Change at the Institute for Water and the Environment;
- Guatemala, through the Vice Minister for Natural Resources and Climate Change, Fredy Chiroy; and
- Ghana, through the Executive Secretary of the Water Resources Commission, Benjamin Yaw Bempong Ampomeh.
“The SDG 6 IWRM Action Plan for Ghana has been helpful, giving us opportunities to assist us to complete our national water strategic plan. It also is helping us to form the basis of our national plan, our annual work plan and is helping us to achieve and implement the actions that are incorporated in the plan,” said Benjamin Yaw Bempong Ampomeh.
During an interactive exercise in breakout groups, participants identified bottlenecks when implementing IWRM, as well as sharing experiences in overcoming those bottlenecks.
A key take-away was that multistakeholder engagement must be encouraged, including with different water-related subsectors, and without forgetting local communities, NGOs, and farmers. However, higher levels of inclusion present a bigger challenge in coordination and cooperation.
The solutions discussed included aligning interests by focusing on shared long-term goals and cross sectoral perspectives. Other solutions were seen in setting up a high-level intersectoral coordination team and strengthening the mandate and capacities of river basin organisations. Nevertheless, one of the main bottlenecks that was highlighted was financing. Participants agreed that the private sector needs to be engaged more, by aligning private investments with public needs, possibly by means of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and more innovative financing schemes.
This invaluable insight will contribute to further refining country efforts towards accelerating IWRM implementation, which is the goal of the SDG 6 IWRM Support Programme. The Support Programme assists governments in designing and implementing country-led responses to SDG indicator 6.5.1, the degree of implementation of IWRM, as an entry point to accelerate progress towards the achievement of water-related SDGs and other development goals, in line with their national priorities. This is in direct support of the official SDG monitoring and reporting processes that should lead to measurable progress on the relevant SDG targets, and contribute to the SDG 6 Global Acceleration Framework.
In his closing remarks, Darío Soto-Abril, Executive Secretary of GWP, thanked participants for their enthusiasm, and invited them to join forces to become agents of positive change. “I encourage you to keep expanding the community of practice to share experiences and lessons learned,” said Soto-Abril.