Ensuring Water is a Key Part of Post-2015 Agenda

GWP Southern Africa has participated in national and international dialogues focusing on water in the post 2015 development agenda. The dialogues form part of the UN national dialogue (post Rio +20) process which will feed into the development of the UN post 2015 Sustainable Development Goal(s).

Post Rio+20 National Water Sector Workshop

At the invitation of the Department of Water Affairs, South Africa, GWP Southern Africa Executive Secretary, Ms Ruth Beukman participated in the Post Rio+20 National Water Sector Workshop as a presenter on the topic “Thinking behind the post-2015 development agenda.” The workshop, which brought together about 60 participants from key water, environment and development institutions across the country, was held in Durban 19-20 February 2013. The workshop objectives included:

  • Engaging the water sector on the outcome of the Rio+20, focusing on water related issues.

  • Reporting on national progress thus far post Rio+20

  • Promoting alignment of national water initiatives/ priorities by highlighting linkages between the outcomes of Rio+20, the Post 2015 development framework through the National Sustainable Development strategy, the National Development Plan and the National Water Resources Strategy and determining a way forward for the South Africa Water Sector.

  • Governing and Managing Water Resources for Sustainable Development – Post 2015

On 27-28 February, 2013, GWP Southern Africa Executive Secretary Ms Ruth Beukman, invited by UN Water, participated in the Post- 2015 Development Agenda Consultation on Water: Water Resources Management and Wastewater Management & Water Quality. The meeting was sponsored by the Government of Switzerland as part of the Thematic Consultation on Water, coordinated by UN-Water, the UNICEF and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The meeting was held at the UN offices in Geneva, Switzerland and brought together over 200 participants from governments, international organizations, civil society and business to discuss these streams, review the outcomes of the online consultations taking place on the web platform http://www.worldwewant2015.org/water, and debate issues related to WRM and WWMWQ.

Ms Ruth Beukman participated as a discussant on the panel on Water Resource Management with a focus of discussion on Governing and Managing Water Resources for Sustainable Development. Ms Beukman presented comments on the issues raised in the online discussion, the notable gaps and the possible implications for the way forward towards informing a water related SDG. Three questions were addressed:

a)      What were the main messages in the consultation on your theme?

Key messages raised from the discussion included:

  • Governance matters at all levels and across sectors - for improved management of water resources but governance situations are different and no blue-prints apply.
  • Shortage of capacities on water governance and integrated management remains an important challenge but capacity development initiatives needed to be better targeted and ensure meaningful capacity is developed to ensure that this translated into action on the ground and at the work place.
  • Improved coordination is needed across different water using sectors and between ministries.

Key gaps were identified:

  • Inadequate attention to the need for integration across sectors and between levels of governance and the mechanisms, structures, innovative approaches on how this might be better achieved as success to date has not been good. Relates to roles and mandates of institutions (at different levels and across sectors) requiring practical clarity for implementation; relates also to profile of water in national government structures and how other development sectors should be catering for water – as a valued input and in relation to their sector impacts on water and associated costs.
  • There was lack of emphasis on the inadequacy of water resources management financing. Despite the sufficiency of information, there is need to work on awareness, political will, capacity development (skills and institutional) and practical implementation of tools and approaches through proper engagement processes.
  • Integrated Water Resource Management should be viewed as a means, and not an end in itself, the engagement with other sectors within an overall development framework is therefore critical for IWRM related activities to visibly add value.

b) Which are the crucial elements of your theme that should be reflected in a potential goal on water? What might be potential risks?

The discussion highlighted elements that should be reflected in a potential goal on water:

  • The need for developed Sustainable Development Goals on water to take into account SMART Monitoring and reporting mechanisms. This would mean that the developed goals are few, distinct and measurable in order to be effectively reported or evaluated.
  • The need for sustainable development water goals to consider themes relating to ‘water for socio-economic development and environmental protection’, and ‘implementation of an integrated water resource management approach’.

Emphasis was placed on developing indicators that would capture these two themes and set up a system to monitor and report on them, such as elements of investment (in institutions, information, infrastructure) based on an IWRM plan; resources for integration, institutional coordination as well as activity progress (on integration and coordination mechanisms) and positive development impacts from integrated multi-sectoral and multi-level approaches.

c) Where do you see opportunities to join up/ merge your critical demands with other themes of this panel under a water goal as well as the ten other UN selected themes?

  • Issues relating to governance and management aspects of water should be linked to issues on clarification on roles, mandates, linkages, and better and clearer coordination (between scales and sectors – waste water/ reuse and WASH) as well as ensuring that there are resources for necessary integration and coordination processes and structures.
  • Although opportunities for interaction was encouraged with the ten themes of the ‘World We Want’ consultation, a special emphasis was placed on the need to strategically and meaningfully interact closely with key development challenges presented in food, health, energy, and environment and as the water sector we should aim to tackle challenges in these sectors through an integrated approach.

These were suggested because of the need to capture essential linkages and integration with water management and governance (and resources) required for achieving direct positive impacts on ‘growth and development and poverty reduction’. A further justification in suggesting these linkages is that they focus on the more tangible targets (to tackle the challenges) and goals which are SMART and provide clear actions as well as indicators for progress and development impact.

More information

Further information on the Meeting on the Post- 2015 Development Agenda Consultation on Water: Water Resources Management and Wastewater Management & Water Quality may be obtained from the Post-2015 Development Agenda Bulletin and http://www.iisd.ca/POST2015/WATER/UNECEWC/