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No. 16 (232) November 2013


On November 7-8, 2013 in Paris, the Second Working Meeting under the OECD Water Governance Initiative was held in the Headquarters of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Paris.

The OECD Water Governance Initiative is an international multi-stakeholder network of delegates from public, private and not-for-profit sectors gathering twice a year to share on-going reforms, projects, lessons and good practices in support of better governance in the water sector. It was launched during the preparation of “Good Governance” Core Group for the 6th WWF in Marseille and finally formed in March 2013. The OECD Water Governance Initiative aims to:

  • Advise governments in taking the needed steps for effective water governance through policy dialogue at different levels;
  • Provide a technical platform to discuss analytical work on water governance through peer-to-peer exchanges and knowledge sharing;
  • Support the implementation of the 6 governance targets designed for the 6th World Water Forum (Marseille, 2012) up to the 7th World Water Forum (Korea, 2015);
  • Contribute to the design of OECD Principles on Water Governance and OECD Indicators on Water Governance to engage decision-makers at all levels, within and outside the water sector, commit to action.

The 2nd meeting has the following objectives:

  1. Kick-off the 4 Thematic Working Groups as “building blocks” of OECD Principles on Water Governance
    1. stakeholder engagement for effective water management (led by OECD, and Suez Environment);
    2. performance and governance of water supply and sanitation (led by ASTEE)
    3. basin governance (led by INBO/OIEau and UNESCO-IHP); and
    4. integrity and transparency (led by WIN, TI, SIWI-UNDP Water Governance Facility);
  2. Introduce regional partners of and thematic contributors to the Initiative’s Programme of Work to define who does what;
  3. Discuss recent developments in the Global Water Agenda, especially the outcomes of the Water Integrity Forum (Delft, 5-7 June 2013), the Budapest Water Summit (8-11 October 2013) and the preparation of 7th World Water Forum (12-17 April, 2025, Daegu- Korea);
  4. Discuss analytical work on water governance, especially the draft OECD report “Water Governance in the Netherlands: Fit for the Future?”
  5. Exchange on recent water governance reforms and initiatives;
  6. Define a Communication and Outreach Strategy for the Network.

During two days of intensive discussions, the objectives were accomplished. Participants of the Initiative defined work of which of the four Thematic Working Groups they are ready to support. For each of the groups, a scoping note, on which base thematic group objectives and its further actions were defined, was developed. SIC ICWC was included in the Thematic Working Group 3 “Basin Governance”. Regarding the scoping note, the representative of SIC ICWC proposed to narrow down a list of tasks set to the Group and bring them to actions, which may make definite contributions in ensuring implementation of water governance in practice. This is especially urgent in the light of the fact that the 7th World Water Forum will focus on implementation of numerous solutions of water problems presented at the 6th WWF in Marseille. For instance, there is a need for specific indicators tracking steps performed towards more efficient water governance, which are to help on-site executors in their everyday work. In this regard, the proposal by Stefano Burke (AIDA) on development of indicators tracking implementation of water law was of interest. Detailed notes to the scoping note and suggestions on activities of the Group will be submitted to coordinators till November 29th, 2013.

OECD prepared a detailed peer-review of the OECD Report “Water Governance in the Netherlands: Fit for the Future?” More than 200 pages of the report state both the country’s achievements in this direction and existing difficulties. Thus, for instance, the report mentions that the Netherlands are in a peculiar trap, which could prevent the country to further develop efficient water governance. The first element of the trap is citizens’ overreliance on the state in water governance. Such a seemingly positive factor often leads to carelessness of citizens and their low awareness in water-related issues. The second element of the trap is a sense of security, which is not indeed consistent with the reality and lulls them into a false sense of that. Finally, the third element is a technological supremacy of Dutch approaches. It also raises concerns and prevents development of a new way of thinking and innovative approaches.

It appears that a summarized version of the report, after its publication at the beginning of 2014, would be interested for acquaintance the Central Asia with the Dutch centuries-old experience in governance of water, wetlands, and deltas that today intend to become an “updated version of themselves”.

A representative from SIWI/UNDP introduced participants a new publication “User's Guide on Assessing Water Governance” (available at The guide provides an overview of different methodologies for assessment of water governance success, and their own basis for how to conduct such assessments proposed.

The OECD Secretariat promised to soon circulate a draft inventory of projects and initiatives in water governance for its further supplementation among the members of the OECD Initiative.

The representative from SIC ICWC informed the participants on activities of SIC and actions carried out under ICWC on water governance issues (data exchange, trainings, projects on IWRM implementation, etc.).

Currently, SIC ICWC is the only organization represented in the OESD Initiative from Central Asia and the whole post-Soviet area. Participation in the OECD Initiative allows sharing regional experience in water management, as well as participation of the region in formation of the Global Water Governance Agenda. Therefore, it would be desirable to engage organizations from Central Asia more broadly to the OECD Initiative.

The next meeting of the OECD Initiative members is planned in mid April, 2015.

Dr. D.R. Ziganshina,
Deputy Director of SIC ICWC