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MEA Bulletin - Guest Article No. 42b - Thursday, 28 February 2008
Global Public Policy Network on Water Management:
Ensuring maximum stakeholder input to the water management review at CSD-16
By Hannah Stoddart, Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future
Stakeholder Forum

The Global Public Policy Network on Water Management1 was established by Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future and Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) at the World Water Week in 2006, in consultation with a wide range of international water management stakeholders, to help enable a successful review of water management at the 16th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-16), in May 2008.

At CSD-16, the water management commitments outlined in the CSD-13 decision will be reviewed. The review will take place in the first two days of the second week of CSD-16. The GPPN aims to enhance the review process by providing a space ahead of CSD-16 where all water management stakeholders – including governments, civil society (Major Groups) and international agencies – can provide their inputs and exchange views on how far CSD-13 commitments on water management have been met. Whilst governments are already reporting on water management commitments to the CSD secretariat, the GPPN is open to all stakeholders and provides room for discussion, exchange and interaction ahead of CSD-16. 


The GPPN has asked for stakeholders to report back on how far CSD-13 commitments have been met in the following areas:

  • Governance and Capacity Building
    • Monitoring
    • Technology Transfer
    • Education, Training, Information and Knowledge
    • Research         
  • Stakeholder and Major Groups Engagement
    • Stakeholder Engagement
    • Indigenous Knowledge
    • Gender
  • Finance
    • Development assistance
    • Commercial Incentives
    • Cost-recovery and Subsidies

Stakeholders have been asked to report on progress made in implementation of CSD-13 commitments; major constraints and challenges, as well as any lessons learned. The GPPN has also requested that stakeholders identify any recent trends and emerging issues that should be brought to the attention of the CSD, as well as make recommendations as to how the CSD could advance progress towards water and sanitation commitments.

As a parallel process, the GPPN is also seeking inputs from stakeholders on water management as a cross-cutting issue in relation to Agriculture and Africa – two of the thematic issues under discussion at CSD-16 to which water management is perhaps most relevant. The GPPN secretariat have identified commitments from the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, as well as the 13th session of the CSD relating to water as a cross-cutting issue for Agriculture and Africa: stakeholders have been asked to assess how far these commitments have been met and what challenges and constraints remain.

The GPPN is an evolving process and ongoing process, and will use stakeholder inputs to the water management review in the following ways:

  • Produce a synthesis report of stakeholder inputs, outlining key areas of consensus, to be made available to all stakeholders ahead of the CSD-16
  • Launch a GPPN wiki - post the synthesis to a web page that allows users to collaboratively edit a document to ensure it reflects a range of stakeholder inputs.
  • Use the findings as the basis of a teach-in with CSD member states to get them up-to-date on issues
  • Facilitate a series of side events at CSD-16 with stakeholders that reflect the findings from the GPPN, with at least two focusing on water as a cross-cutting issue for Agriculture and Africa.
  • Use GPPN findings to contribute to the ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review on MDG-7 in July 2008.
  • Use GPPN findings to feed into the special session of the General Assembly reviewing the MDGs in September 2008.

Initial Findings and Recommendations

The GPPN will continue to gather inputs from water management stakeholders for the CSD until 31st March 2008, and so far it has already received detailed contributions from:

  • Freshwater Action Network (FAN)
  • Instituto Ipanema (Brazil)
  • Centro de Estudios Ambientales, CEDEA (Argentina)
  • Water Research and Planning Organisation (Bangladesh)
  • WWF
  • SWITCH (Sustainable Water Management Improves Tomorrow's Cities' Health)
  • Aquafed
  • World Business Council for Sustainable Development
  • Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP)
  • Gender and Water Alliance
  • Stockholm International Water Institute
  • ICSU (Global Water System Project)
  • Tearfund
  • Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM)
  • NGO Forum for Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation (Bangladesh)
  • Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)
  • WaterAid

From these inputs it has been possible for the GPPN to present some initial findings and recommendations, some of which have been briefly outlined below. For more detailed findings and recommendations so far, please visit

Governance and Capacity Building

  • Monitoring and Evaluation
    1. Define Better Indicators

    Monitoring on water and sanitation is only meaningful if there is a clear yardstick against which to measure it e.g. indicators should not only be technical, but also take into account improvements in health, look at social improvements for both men and women, assess whether piped water means safe water, etc.

    1. Improve Monitoring Tools

    The Global Water Tool was developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to help companies assess their present and future water risks and map their water use using external global datasets.

    1. Build local capacity for monitoring

    One of the key problems that the CSD should address is the need for building local, decentralized (though integrated) capacity for information, monitoring and communication systems.

  • Technology and skills transfer
    1. Technology transfer mechanism

    UN Water should initiate regional mechanisms to facilitate South-South technology and knowledge transfer.

    1. Increase demonstrations and profile of new technologies

    Demonstrations of new water and sanitation technologies should be expanded. CSD should acknowledge the range of new technologies that can meet the requirements of different places and circumstances.

    1. Greater emphasis on low income and rapidly urbanizing areas.

    CSD should focus more on the water and sanitation technology requirements for rapidly urbanizing low-income areas – governments should commit to further funding for new technologies in these areas with case studies of success.

    1. Focus on pollution of water sources

    Degradation of water sources means that piped water often isn’t clean water. Technology should be harnessed to avoid water pollution as well as ensure water provision.

  • Education, Training and Knowledge Transfer 
    1. Fund for online training

    Governments should earmark funds for online capacity building, to aid the dissemination of information around water management and the sharing of experience and best practice for similar areas. This could also be used to enhance regional and South-South co-operation.

    1. Funds earmarked for capacity building for pro-poor strategies for local service providers

    CSD should recommend that funds be earmarked by donors for both the training of small scale providers, and the setting up of fora where business can share its expertise with local stakeholders (in their own language) to build capacity. Further and robust research into examples of best practice where business has been involved in water provision should be pioneered.

    1. Funds for Translation

    Training should be made accessible to those who only speak a local language. Funds should be readily available for translation and interpretation.

  • Research 
    1. Fund for Research into New, Emerging and Low Cost Technologies and Dissemination.

    A shift away from a traditional approach to water management requires the back-up of robust research. The SWITCH research school on Integrated Urban Water Management could serve as a model for other water management research institutions. There should also be funding for the dissemination of this knowledge, including working groups with local water management stakeholders similar to Learning Alliances.

    1. Fund for Interdisciplinary Research

    Achievement of water and sanitation goals and targets requires an understanding of water management as a cross-cutting issue with implications for poverty and social development, especially in urban areas. Research in countries with a vulnerable scientific environment can benefit from partnership with researchers who are aware of traditional knowledge and local perceptions of benefits and welfare.

    1. International Working Group to develop Indicators

    Progress on water management is limited by the lack of clear and defined indicators taking into account technical and social aspects. There should be an international working group of water management experts and stakeholders to identify more generic indicators for water management, covering technical, social and environmental sustainability aspects.  

Stakeholder Engagement

  1. Fund to promote documentation of Indigenous Knowledge

It is difficult for water management decision making to take into account indigenous knowledge and views if there is very little documentation of traditional knowledge

  1. Ensure inclusion of indigenous communities in water management projects and international processes.

Indigenous communities should take part as actors and participants, both on a project level and at the international process level.

  1. Emphasis on gender sensitive hygiene

Advances in water management need to benefit both men and women equally, and so gender issues need to be re-emphasised at the implementation level.

  1. Inclusion of refugees

If access to water is to be regarded as a human right, those without access to water and sanitation through displacement by war or conflict should be included in processes of engagement and capacity building.


  • Innovative approaches to Water Management and Funding Mechanisms

In order to reach the poorest people in need of water and sanitation, new and innovative approaches need to be taken among donors. There should be a greater willingness to pilot new schemes to empower local communities and local service providers, and a move away from a business as usual approach, to reassert the principles of WSSD.

  • Improved monitoring of funds

Improved systems need to evolve to monitor the use and allocation of funds specifically to water management sector.

  • Pro-poor and pro-urban strategy

Aid should prioritise lowest income countries and focus on urban areas: some suggest that 70% of water and sanitation aid should be targeted to the lowest income countries.

  • Improved Training to Access Funding

A fund should be ear-marked to provide training to local stakeholders on the process involved in accessing funding for the water management sector.

  • Emphasise Importance of Increasing Finance Flows

ODA alone cannot provide universal water and sanitation access. It should be coupled with strategies to increase finance flows, as outlined in Gurria Task Force on Financing Water for All in 2006.

  • Subsidies to provide commercial incentives for water efficiency and sustainability

Those implementing best practice in the protection of forests and watersheds should be rewarded

The GPPN invites readers to consider the findings of the GPPN and to contribute further to the review process by providing their own inputs, if they feel in a position to do so. Most significantly, the GPPN welcomes any recommendations for improved implementation of water management commitments, building on and complementing the findings above.

If you have any questions about the GPPN process, please do not hesitate to contact Hannah Stoddart (

For more background on the GPPN, please visit
1 Water Management in this context refers to the five themes covered by the CSD-13 decision: Access to basic water services; Integrated water resources management (IWRM); Access to basic sanitation; Sanitation and hygiene education; Wastewater collection, treatment and reuse
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