“Footprints of GWP South Asia: from Dr Lam Dorji’s eyes” the man who made India see water as a 'resource'!

GWP Bhutan or Bhutan Water Partnership was established with the support of multiple of senior officials from the Royal Government of Bhutan. Dr Lam Dorji being the youngest Chair of GWP South Asia served from 2016-2018 at the Regional Water Partnership.

GWP Bhutan or Bhutan Water Partnership was established with the support of multiple of senior officials from the Royal Government of Bhutan. One of the instrumental members were Dr. Pema Gyamtsho, who is currently the Director General of ICIMOD. Over time different high level government officials chaired BhWP. It was later decided, under the advisement of the cabinet, that Bhutan Water Partnership will be hosted by Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN) for the next two years where Dr. Dorji was serving as Executive Director. After two years, reported back to the government regarding the completed initiatives and further directives were provided. Till date, BhWP continues to be hosted by RSPN. During this time the GWP South Asia chair came to Bhutan leading me to take the role for three years followed by Dr Haq, who I remember very fondly as an active, humorous and knowledgeable individual.

Dr. Dorjis engagement with GWP South Asia regional chair kind of opened me up to a lot of the challenges that GWP faces as an institution. GWP has historically been very democratic institution that takes allows the expression of different perspectives and ideas. Recognizing and accepting the diversity is a great but he also expressed the need for some unity, coherence and coordination which requires an institutional review to become more progressive and make a difference on the ground.

Water being a big issue is largely recognized from the levels of the highest decision maker to the on the ground user of water. There are many stakeholders that have different perspectives on water which has led GWP to develop and establish the concept of IWRM. However, it is increasingly important to make a difference with the concept at a grassroot level.

The impact of GWP and its work will depend on the organizational structure of project conceptualization and fundraising. As the water situation is getting worser over the globe, the global funding situation is also rapidly changing. GWP as a pioneering institution in the water space faces challenges as the proportion of available financial resources does not match the proportion of problems that the institution is trying to tackle. It begs to ask the question of Why is water not being funded at the level at it should be? And why is it not funded through the GWP network. Utilizing the historical experiences and strides that the institution has made, GWP must adapt to the time and emerging situation to become more financially sustainable. There is also an emerging competition to finance water, but the primary agenda should always be concentrated around water.

He also expressed his concern is more with how the institutional operation in regions and country levels. Many international organizations are present at these levels with legal arrangements which should be looked at as options for GWP as we are heavily dependent on host institutions. An analogy would be living in somebody else’s house. To make a big difference to tackle big issues such as water, requires careful planning and organization. Having a legal arrangement with the host country and legal standing opens up further opportunities to leverage additional financing. Hence, its important to look at existing legal arrangements of other institutions and learn from their experiences to develop our own modalities to raise funds at a country, region and global level. This will then require more democratic processes which GWP is already equipped with. We should be capable enough to answer questions from the donors regarding our registration, affiliation and legal standing in order to instil them with confidence. Being completely honest drawing on his experience with GWP South Asia, he shares that the current model needs to change according to the changing times and circumstances. The Global Steering Committee should place, that mechanism of how to ensure legal presence in the country.

He shared his understanding of raising local funds but sympathized on how the GWP Network has assembled a passionate and knowledgeable group of individuals while they only receive a disproportional amount of money for programming. In order to support locally raised funds the institutions across the network must have its own legal basis to engage with donors and ministers.

For global funds such as the GCF or Adaptation fund it is required to have a legal presence. Nobody will give you millions of dollars when you are not a legal in that country. Alternatively, we have to gain access to the finance through other legal entities. The fact that you have to fund your own institution through another institution suggests that the institution is not effective.

Given that GWP has a lot of history including being a founding member of the IWRM the concept, GWP is not making headlines while other institutions are aggressively moving ahead. The last time he heard about GWP was when the new toolbox was launched.

Currently, the countries and regions are fighting over $100,000, or €100,000 which would. I think will not be fighting like hell if we can secure funding at a greater level. I think it's important to have a mechanism in place where people can work harmoniously and as a united front. Often we find ourselves in the situation debating about how much to divide and how much to think. We should rather be focusing on institutional strengthening and building. A solid foundation would be required to build towards the big goals and ambitions, but we often find ourselves eating away at the very foundation that would support our growth. Nobody would want to pump in money if it creates further problems. Every donor has a good intent of making sure that the money is used to address the issue but if it creates problems, if it divides people nobody would invest. Hence, we need to untie and work in harmony to support one another.

Coming to the reaccreditation process of the Country Water Partnerships, we must pose the question of the value addition of this process to the CWPs given that one of the objectives is for them to raise their own funds. Accreditation to CWPs to GWPO has limited significance because it does not fit in the local rules of the country. At the end of the day in the case of BhWP they have to mention that they are a part of RSPN as BhWP is not legally registered.  Whenever we go out, you have to blurt somebody elses name. Ive closely observed the growth of BhWP from the past 10 year and its still the same institution with the same activities, with the same set of individuals in the steering committee.Being very honest given that he was part of this institution and he has a lot of faith in its capacity. Honestly this also comes with a large support for the institution. I don't want it GWP to lose its that the historical significance it has gained with its appreciable work overtime. However, it is also important that we look at things in a rational way.

There is an increasing need to address issues at the local level which requires a large amount of money along with effective institutions that are champions in delivery of services, addressing water issues, providing relief for local people or communities.

He thinks there's a large opportunity in the water sector and to seize them a strong institution is required. With no doubt, GWP is the strongest institution, but the strength of the regions and countries varies. In the context of Asia, the economies are growing rapidly but they areto open it. Asia is a little different. Asian Economies are more advancing, but they are not pumping in much money into water. As you would expect them to, therefore the sources of funding in the region for institution like GWP is less. Therefore, you need to have a institution that can be equally compete.


So, yeah, I think I would say 20 years is a time to celebrate and re-think. We celebrate the GWP network as it has contributed a lot to the water agenda. Sharing information about the institutional arrangements is not undermining the ongoing or past work which is a great achievement but to better position the institution in the new global situation.

After everything I have shared today I also love this institution. I think water is important resource that we all must work together to safeguard it future not just for this generation but also for future generations. Achieving intergenerational sustainability requires a lot more resources, coordination, and  cooperation that brings people together. Based on my love and appreciation for this institution and its truly global scale of operation it is important that it continues to strive towards the ideals that were set initially during its inception. Everyone should be proud to be associated with GWP. We must continue to work together, ideate together, and make it stronger.

On this very important occasion of our 20 years of existence, having done a lot across the world and then we must all come together and wish ourselves every success in the future.