Interviews with speakers

  • Daniel Valensuela – OIEau. Daniel Valensuela is a co-convener in one of the Work Streams at the Water Integrity Forum. He has worked with the GWP Secretariat for six years, where he focused on IWRM and partnerships in countries (mainly Africa), and then joined INBO and IOWater, working on institutional reform, IWRM at basin scale, water governance at national, basin and transboundary levels. Here he shares his expectations on the first Water Integrity Forum and his thoughts on water integrity in general.

    1. What are your expectations from this Forum?
    Better understanding from participant about what water integrity means and some commitment for it, particularly until the next WWF 7 in Korea (why not a handbook on water integrity for instance?).

    2. How do you think that this Forum can help increase water integrity?
    In term of concrete results, we have to stay humble at first. But at the same time, this forum can clearly put the concept of integrity (and in more details, corruption, participation, transparency, information) at a high level in the agenda of future events (maybe something to think about for the General Assembly of INBO in Brazil, Fortaleza 11 – 17 August 2013 for instance) and particularly help to put INTEGRITY in the agenda of the Korea World Water Forum – in my opinion the next WWF should be not focus only on technical aspects.
    Also, some tools and ways of managing can be a starting point for participants to be used in their own contexts (country, basin).

    3. Which specific actions do you think could promote participation and transparency in the water sector?

    • Develop a handbook on practical / concrete actions which help government and all bodies to go towards more integrity in water sector in different scales.
    • Develop as example a set of training sessions about it and implement at least one session in every region.

     

    4. What current and future challenges do you see to reducing corruption in this sector?

    • How to include the private water sector (which is absolutely needed for success).
    • Information = power, therefore, who has information does not always want to share it.
    • To show, to demonstrate, to prove that integrity and its all components (participation, transparency etc…) can be win- win for all, including the richest and powerful people.

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    Esther Lowe is an experienced consultant in rural WASH in Sub- Saharan Africa, a region with very weak in (local) government capacities combined with limited community capacity and resources, all resulting in immense but interesting complexities around sustainability and good governance issues. She has been actively involved in the development of Work stream 3: Rural Water Sanitation and Hygiene(Rural WASH) and Integrated Urban Water Management and Services at the Water Integrity Forum.

    1.   What are your expectations from this Forum?

    To exchange with other sector stakeholders and expert on how to improve transparency, good governance and integrity, learn about new tools available to deal with these matters, and plan a way forward to tackle the problems of those people that so desperately need the water to sustain their livelihoods, in one way or the other.

    2.    How do you think that this Forum can help increase water integrity?

    As I said above, exchange on new tools, best practices, learning from each other, in how we can improve accountability, transparency and integrity in the sector. Link the different agencies to learn from each other, as well as to make a stronger voice to deal with these matters and not focus too much on technologies and outputs, as none of them will be sustainable (both in terms of environment as well as financial) if corruption is not tackled.

    3.    Which specific actions do you think that could promote participation and transparency in the water sector?

    Third party analyses, public audits, development and follow up of procedures that address inclusion, equality, transparency and accountability, etc

    4.    What current and future challenges do you see to reducing corruption in this sector?

    In many of the countries where I work, corruption starts at the top, at the national level, and goes all the way down through the system. And it goes much beyond the WASH sector, but is almost a way of living… Where to start? And how to make a lasting impact?

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    Aziza Akhmouch is leading the Water Governance Programme of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Her field of expertise covers a wide range of governance topics including multi-level governance, capacity building, stakeholder engagement, river/groundwater governance, water security and integrity. She has developed policy tools to diagnose major governance gaps in the water sector and provide policy guidance to decision-makers at different levels to bridge them. She is the author of several OECD water governance (country and cross-country) reports and working papers in the OECD, Latin America and Mediterranean region.

    Aziza Akhmouch has led the Good Governance Core Group up to the 6th World Water Forum and has recently created the OECD Water Governance Initiative, a multi-stakeholder network of public, private and not-for-profit actors gathering twice a year in a Policy Forum to foster experience sharing and bench-learning. She has been leading several water governance policy dialogues with selected countries (Mexico, Netherlands, Italy) to provide evidence-based assessment and policy recommendations on critical areas and drivers for reform. She is now in the process of designing OECD Principles on Water Governance. Aziza Akhmouch holds a PhD in Geopolitics and a MS in International Business. 

    1.       This First Water Integrity Forum will be a possibility to share experiences on improving integrity in the water sector.  What are some of your own experiences?

    Since its 1997 Anti-Bribery Convention, the OECD has been a global leader in the fight against corruption. Along with other intergovernmental organisations, OECD has helped create a set of international instruments that seek to limit corruption.  Only to name a few, the OECD conducts Anti-bribery reviews and Procurement reviews, including recently in Brazil, Mexico and the United States; organises workshops and high-level conferences such as “Joining Forces against Corruption: G20 Business and Government (28 April 2011 OECD Headquarters, Paris); develops guiding tools such as the Principles for enhancing integrity in public procurement; and contributes to international efforts, such as the G20 Seoul Anti-corruption Action Plan 2013-2014. Furthermore, in 2010, the 34 OECD member countries and leading partners, including Brazil and Russia, agreed to a Declaration on Propriety, Integrity and Transparency in the conduct of international business and finance. In 2011, the OECD also launched a new initiative – clean.gov.biz – to help governments reinforce their fight against corruption and engage with civil society and the private sector promote real change towards integrity.

    In the water sector, the OECD has taken an active role in the field of integrity and transparency: As part of the OECD-led thematic governance core group of the 6th World Water Forum (12-17 March 2012, Marseille, France), 6 “good governance” targets were designed to be achieved in the next decade, including two targets oni)  integrity and anti-corruption policies and ii) information, accountability and transparency, respectively co-ordinated by WIN, and SIWI/TI. To support their implementation up to the 7th WWF in Korea, the OECD launched an Initiative on Water Governance (27-28 March, OECD Headquarters, Paris), a multi-stakeholder network gathering delegates from different geographic and institutional backgrounds in member and non-member countries. The core group of official members include key partners working working integrity and transparency issues, among others WIN, SIWI, TI, and UNDP. The Initiative will have a taskforce/thematic working group on anti-corruption, transparency and integrity led by WIN, TI and SIWI/UNDP with the objective to foster peer-learning and experience.

    2.       What are your expectations from this Forum?

     Over a year ago, coordinators of the 6th WWF “Good Governance” core groups committed to shift from discussion to action in the field of water governance. We see the 1st meeting of the Water Integrity Forum as a concrete step in that direction. By gathering a wide range of stakeholders, the Water Integrity Forum offers a good opportunity to share experiences. And beyond peer-learning, we would call upon the Water Integrity Forum to encourage concrete integrity commitments from actors within and outside the “water box”, and to develop pragmatic steps to foster accountability, ethics, co-operation, anti-corruption measures, integrity risks assessments and transparent practices in the water sector.

     3.       How do you think that this Forum can help increase water integrity?

     First, through the identification of what works well, what does not, and critical governance obstacles hindering integrity and transparency in the water sector;  Second, through the scaling up of good practices that exist on the ground; third through networking across a wide range of stakeholders to identify synergies, complementarities and build solid partnerships.

    4.       Which specific actions do you think could promote participation and transparency in the water sector?

    OECD’s work is policy-driven. We produce evidence-based assessments, analytical frameworks and tools, and international comparisons to help guide decision-making and support reform processes. We have access to high profile policymakers, at different levels, in different countries and we provide a neutral and independent platform to build consensus on needed reforms and take active role.

    Concrete actions carried out by OECD to promote participation and transparency in the water sector include:

    • Carrying out specific country reviews (Mexico, Netherlands, and soon Brazil).
    • Hosting policy fora to share experience, good practices and ways to address challenges. The OECD Water Governance Initiative launched on 27-28 March 2013 plays this role as a multi-stakeholder network gathering public, private and not for profit actors.
    • Developing benchmarks across countries, cities based on statistical data and evidence-based analysis such as the OECD 2011 and 2023 reports on Water Governance (across 17 OECD and 13 LAC countries).
    • Developing policy tools and soft law (guidelines, principles, codes of conduct, checklists) and supporting their implementation.

      5.  What current and future challenges do you see to reducing corruption in this sector?

    Despite a variety of hydrological and institutional settings, a majority of countries share similar governance obstacles to water integrity and transparency. They include, but are not limited, to weak economic regulation and poorly drafted legislations which do not provide the necessary incentives or specific rules to encourage responsibility and ethics; a lack of information sharing and insufficient performance measurements that prevent integrity risks evaluations; and a lack of public concern and citizen involvement in water issues which hinder accountability and transparency.

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    1. This First Water Integrity Forum will be a possibility to share experiences on improving integrity in the water sector.  What are some of your own experiences?

     My own experience in addressing issues of integrity revolves around the provision of infrastructure. As Chair of the Construction Sector Transparency Initiative (CoST),

    I have been involved in country-managed programs to bring greater transparency and accountability to the construction sector in order to enhance efficiency and reduce opportunities for corruption. CoST is a multi-stakeholder program which is being rolled out world-wide. Infrastructure provision in the water sector is an important part of the program.

    2. What are your expectations from this Forum?

    Despite recent advocacy, integrity is not (yet) being addressed as a major determinant of project and/or program outcomes in the water sector. More broadly, governance has only recently been recognized as a critical input into the achievement of the MDGs, post-2015. The Forum will be another important opportunity to highlight the issue of integrity in the provision of this basic service — and how to address it.

    • 3.   How do you think that this Forum can help increase water integrity?

    The Forum will bring together a group of experts and practitioners who will share recent experience and solutions and, more importantly, make another strong statement in support of integrity in the water sector. The venue of the Forum is well chosen. The Netherlands is well-known, globally, for its expertise in water management. It is thus to be expected that the results and recommendations of the Forum will be communicated to a broader technical audience.

    4.   Which specific actions do you think could promote participation and transparency in the water sector?

    There are a number of ways in which greater integrity can be promoted in the water sector. Following the CoST approach, my main recommendation would be for every government/government agency to provide full disclosure — and distribution – of basic information for all public sector water projects. At the same time, I would recommend the forming of a multi-stakeholder group (government, private sector. civil society) that would have access to, and review, the project information. These combined actions would significantly enhance participation and accountability in the sector.

    5. What current and future challenges do you see to reducing corruption in this sector?

    There remain many challenges to all efforts to reduce corruption in the sector. All efforts will be stymied if the “tone at the top” is not supportive. Greater transparency and accountability need an enabling environment to grow, i.e. a strong commitment on the part of policy makers to disclose relevant project/program information. Forums like the one in Delft may help in bringing about such greater commitment. After all, there should be strong incentives for policy makers to improve integrity in the sector: e.g. greater efficiency of public spending; improved quality of public service; enhanced public confidence; and improved political reputation. Another challenge is to bring about meaningful participation and voice on the part of the stakeholders. Civil society, in particular, needs to have full access to the disclosed information, the capacity to understand it, and be able to exercise its right to accountability.

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    1.    This First Water Integrity Forum will be a possibility to share experiences on improving integrity in the water sector.  What are some of your own experiences?

    I have seen positive changes usually associated with better information combined with actions to help people act on that information.  Information can be necessary but not sufficient to induce change.  Examples come from across the water field.  Examples that come to mind include: increased information to customers improving utility performance (Egypt, Uganda, and Botswana). Increased information on water resource use between sectors used to improve water allocation processes (Morocco) . Better information on water productivity at farm level used to spur improvements among irrigator farmers (Morocco).   Information technology combined with outreach programmes used to improve farmer water use (china). Mobile banking to get transparent payments for well water (Kenya)

    2.   What are your expectations from this Forum?

    To learn techniques and case studies, to meet people I do not normally see.

    3.    How do you think that this Forum can help increase water integrity?  

    By highlighting the role of governance in water management and the role transparency plays in improving governance.  By connecting people with expertise and experience to each other.  By highlighting case studies to show how huge improvements can be made by making an effort at transparency, even when the external enabling environment is not conducive.

     4.    Which specific actions do you think that could promote participation and transparency in the water sector?

    Open data, mobile technology, remote sensing, …

    5.    What current and future challenges do you see to reducing corruption in this sector?

    It will only get more difficult as we move into more complex water allocation and efficiency issues and therefore all the more important to address governance issues.

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