The Second Consultation Workshop of the Palestinian Water Policy Dialogue, within the Union for the Mediterranean project Governance & Financing for the Mediterranean Water Sector, was organised under the patronage of H.E. Mazen Ghuneim, Minister and Chairman of the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA), by the Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in Ramallah, on 6 May 2015.
With more than 40 key stakeholders from the government; private companies and banks; research institutes and Academia; media as well as the Civil Society actively participating, the workshop discussed the draft Report ‘Governance in Palestine: Sector Reform to include Private Sector Participation’, tangible result of the ongoing technical work and the multi-stakeholder Policy dialogue process conducted in Palestine.
Opening the workshop on behalf of H.E. Mazen Ghuneim, Eng. Youssef Awayes, DG for International Cooperation at PWA, stressed the need to “identify what role the private sector -including banks- could play in the financial sustainability of the water sector”, whereas Mr. Ahmad Hindi, Focal Point of the Dialogue at PWA, highlighted the need “to address the governance bottlenecks to sustainable financing having a clear vision on the desired objective and knowing all the available options to get there”.
Being the concrete second step of the Dialogue, and aligning with the sector reform, the workshop convened the key stakeholders and helped build a common understanding on the main governance-related obstacles to Private Sector Participation (PSP) in the water sector, as well as identify practical tools that can help overcome them and lead to economic growth, prosperity and sustainable development. As the project is labelled under the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and endorsed unanimously by its 43 member countries, its role “to strive towards stability and prosperity in the Mediterranean region” was also stressed during the workshop by Dr. Rafiq Husseini, former Deputy Secretary General at the Environment and Water Division of the UfM.
The Workshop presented and discussed the draft Report, prepared on behalf of GWP-Med by H.E. Koussai Quteishat, Lead Expert of the Dialogue’s technical work in Palestine. It comprised a mix of interventions and open, inclusive discussions, both focusing on the status and the ongoing reform process of the water sector and the key findings of the technical analysis, including socio-economic and financial aspects. Presentations delivered by H.E. Quteishat highlighted the role of key stakeholders and the importance of engaging them in the governance-financing nexus. Discussions, moderated by Mr. Ahmad Hindi, PWA, and Dr. Anthi Brouma, GWP-Med, confirmed the findings of the diagnostic part and refined the ways to move forward.
Recommendations in three critical areas, namely the budget processes, the regulatory framework and stakeholder engagement, were identified as apposite areas for action in the Palestinian context. Mainstreaming gender issues in this process was addressed by Ms. Anja Nordlund, Gender expert to the project, whereas Mr. Niclas Ihren, CSR expert to the project, portrayed the role that the private sector could play in contributing to sustainable financing through corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
In the latter part of the workshop, discussions set the foundations for the development of an Action Plan based on international tools and best practices promoting gender sensitive and pro-poor actions to be included in the Report.
As a follow up to the Workshop, the draft Report will be revised according to the feedback received and will be shared with the stakeholders for further comments in advance of the Third Consultation Workshop (provisionally set to take place in the latter part of June 2015) that will conclude the technical work and the current phase of the Palestinian Dialogue.
The Palestinian Policy Dialogue (2014-2015) is conducted by the Global Water Partnership- Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in close collaboration with the Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) and within the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) labelled project ‘Governance & Financing for the Mediterranean Water Sector’ with the financial support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the GEF – UNEP/MAP MedPartnership programme. The Dialogue allows building a shared consensus among key stakeholders on the main bottlenecks to sustainable financing, including from the private sector, in Palestine’s water sector and on actions to address those. These actions -based on best practices and internationally recognised tools- will be included in an analytical country Report, based on technical work conducted by GWP-Med with the assistance of PWA.