The Water Integrity Forum was the first International Forum on water integrity.
To address the need for extending the reach of water integrity action, the Water Integrity Network (WIN), Water Governance Centre (WGC) and UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education joined forces to
organise the 1st Water Integrity Forum
in the Netherlands at UNESCO-IHE from 5 – 7 June 2013. The main objectives of the forum were to take stock of progress in addressing corruption issues in the water sector, to share knowledge, approaches and experiences, and to build alliances to address integrity challenges in the water sector.
The forum brought together co-convening partners and various important stakeholders such as policy makers/regulators, investors, private sector, NGOs and other water professionals from different continents and with different backgrounds. They shared theories, approaches, cases, tools, lessons, views and ideas about improving water integrity. The forum lasted 2,5 days with sessions, working groups, round-tables and an open-space. The outcomes of the Forum resulted in a forum report, and will feed into other processes and events on the road to the World Water Forum in 2015.
Why water and integrity?
Water will determine what world the future generations will live in. Water is essential for people, food security, energy, environment, and for social and economic development. It underpins progress in health, equity, gender equality, well-being and economic progress in developing countries but also in the world’s most developed countries. But this precious resources is underpinned by bad governance and lack of integrity. If we want tomorrow’s generation to have sustainable access to this resource, we need to come together now.
By improving governance we’ll ensure that there is a sustainable and equitable use and distribution of water, and that that access to water supply and sanitation is safe. In most countries shortcomings are not due to shortage of water resources but due to governance failures, such as institutional fragmentation, lack of coordinated decision-making, corruption and low levels of transparency and accountability. The result is that governance systems are often not able to prevent or even provide incentives for unethical behaviour and poor professional practice. Corruption is moreover all pervasive and affects all aspects of the water sector - from water resources management to drinking water services, irrigation and hydropower , it occurs in all phases - from design through construction to operation and maintenance - and it is a major factor in the global water crisis. Integrity issues are often at the core of conflicts around water, which are arising at local, country and international levels. Corruption is also identified as one of the major barriers towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Improving water governance requires transparency, accountability and fighting corruption. It requires the right knowledge, access to strong partners and good tools. Today many governments, private companies, NGOs and the general public are increasingly aware of the relevance of water integrity. It is important to understand what the corruption risks are in different contexts by doing proper diagnosis and assessment studies to identify priorities and needs before taking action.
Improving water integrity means working with preventive measures to promote transparency, accountability and participation in water. Lessons have already been learnt from this preventive work, and tools have already been tested and applied. Some examples include, strengthening procurement systems, consumer redress and influence, increasing accountability and transparency in water programming, public expenditure tracking, strengthening capacities and awareness among water managers, regulators, and decision-makers. It is critical to promote evidence based water integrity measures. The Forum aims to bring all the knowledge and experience together, as well as make space for new innovative methods to fight corruption.