Forum asks governments to promote water integrity

Participants at the Forum
Participants at the Forum

Participants at the just ended Water Integrity Forum (WIF) held in Delft, The Netherlands, together with partners of the forum, have called on governments, the United Nations (UN) and international organisations, the corporate sector and civil society to promote water integrity in their operations.

Maintaining that the costs of inaction are just too high to remain passive, the three-day forum which ended June 7, 2013 stated that although fighting corruption is an essential first step, it is not sufficient to deal with the issues of integrity.

“We need to facilitate the recommended transformational shifts, and start changing attitudes and behaviour, personal and institutional,” participants declared in a statement issued at the end of the forum.

Outlining concrete steps that need to be taken by governments, the UN and international organisations among others in the fight for integrity in the water sector, participants asked that they use and expand existing networks and build new alliances to develop a broad consensus on water integrity, and use multiple communication channels to raise awareness for the issues.

The forum also asked that they advocate in international fora for the integration of water-related integrity into the post-2015 development goals as a core component of good governance and water security, including in the Budapest Water Summit 2013 and the 7th World Water Forum and also consider water integrity in the development of organisational policies, strategies and action plans.

Concrete steps towards the integration of integrity outlined included investment in inclusive multi-stakeholder processes to address water integrity challenges and the fostering of collaboration between water sector stakeholders and core governance institutions at country level to join reform agendas.

The forum also recommended the making of more data that is relevant to enable informed decision-making by citizens not only available in the public domain, but freely accessible and easy to understand; as well as make a decisive move towards a universal code of conduct for individual and institutional behaviour based on ethical principles, values and competence and the incorporation of issues of water integrity, including standards, to effectively manage integrity, into capacity development, professional training and teaching.

Organised by Water Integrity Network (WIN) in collaboration with the UNESCO – IHE Institute for Water Education and the Water Governance Centre (WGC), the Water Integrity Forum – the first of its kind, attracted a host of professionals, experts and dignitaries such as Betty Oyella Bigombe, Minister of State for Water, Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda, Kitty van der Heijden, Director, Department for Climate, Environment, Energy and Water (DME) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands, Andras Szollos-Naggy, Rector of the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education and Teun Bastemeijer, Director, Water Integrity Network (WIN) among others.

The forum involved seven work streams that discussed Water, Energy and Food; Water Resource Management in River Basins; Rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene; Integrated Urban Water Management; Tools to Diagnose and Access Integrity; Tools to Improve, Build and Improve Integrity and Processes to Scale Up Integrity.

In all about 25 organisations partnered the organisers to make the forum a reality. These included Transparency International (TI), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Swiss Water Partnership, International Centre for Water Management Services (Cewas), GIZ (German International Development Agency), Global Water Partnership (GWP), OECD, UNDP and Cap-Net UNDP.

Others were the Water Governance Facility of the UNDP, WWF (Worldwide Wildlife Fund), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Ontwikkelings samenwerking, The Water Channel, IRC (International Water and Sanitation Centre), JVS, Sida, IHA (International Hydropower Association) and HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation.

By Edmund Smith-Asante, back from The Netherlands

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