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Beyond the WASH Agenda; Strengthening Capacity for Water Resource Management in the Post-2015 Development Agenda
25 Nov 2013 - 27 Nov 2013
Church Centre, New York City
The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD/Rio+20) in 2012, recognized “that water is at the core of sustainable development as it is closely linked to a number of key global challenges”, and reiterated “the importance of integrating water in sustainable development.” The Rio+20 Conference also reaffirmed the commitments to significantly improve the implementation of integrated water resource management at all levels, recognized the key role ecosystems play in maintaining water quantity and quality, and “commit to the progressive realization of access to safe and affordable drinking water and basic sanitation for all, as necessary for poverty eradication.” These political messages from Rio+20 closely reflect the water-related country priorities in a report by UN-DESA and UNDP called “Synthesis of National Reports for Rio+20” . This report was the main output of a UN-DESA and UNDP collaboration which provided support to 72 developing countries across all regions, to enable them to prepare for and contribute effectively to Rio+20.

The Rio+20 Conference reiterated the importance of strengthening the linkages between effective water management, through Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), and national planning, budgeting and priority setting. The Synthesis of National Reports for Rio+20 above-mentioned however, indicated that many institutional challenges exist in developing countries that currently limit the ability of water managers to participate alongside finance and planning managers in national development planning processes. At the forefront of these challenges is the limited capacity in data and statistics and in analytical capacity to develop indicators for monitoring progress and for quantifying the contribution water makes to economic development, ecosystem services and the wellbeing of communities.

Perhaps the most relevant Rio+20 decisions to the challenges mentioned above for linking IWRM and national development planning processes are: (i) member states agreed to launch a process to develop a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the timeframe for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) draws to a close in 2015 ; and (ii) member states recognized “the need for broader measures of progress to complement gross domestic product in order to better inform policy decisions, and in this regard we request the United Nations Statistical Commission, in consultation with relevant United Nations system entities and other relevant organizations, to launch a programme of work in this area building on existing initiatives.”

As related to water SDGs, several processes on SDGs and for the post-2015 development agenda are now converging towards a more holistic agenda for the post-2015, beyond Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), the focus of MDG 7c (WASH-Plus Agenda). Significant progress has also been made since Rio+20 on a programme to develop broader measures of progress to complement GDP (Beyond GDP), in particular in the area of natural capital accounting using the internationally adopted methodologies for the System for Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA).

Since Rio+20 however, efforts in pursuance of measures to complement GDP and efforts pursuance of the SDGs/post-2015 decisions have been running in parallel tracks without much established linkages. Establishing synergies between these global efforts, in order to offer tangible support to efforts at national level, is crucial in ensuring that issues such as those relating to measurability of indicators are fully accounted for in the framing of SDGs in the post-2015 development framework. Coordinating these efforts, as related to water SDGs, will also ensure that implementation of the above Rio+20 decisions contribute to strengthening the weak institutional capacities mentioned above, which currently limits the effectiveness of efforts by most developing countries to institutionalize linkages between IWRM and national planning processes.


The technical workshop proposed will bring together senior-level water managers, economic planners and statistical experts to:

• Share experiences and lessons on, and identify the challenges to, linking IWRM to national planning, budgeting and priority setting;
• Improve understanding of why managing and developing water resources wisely is key to the MDGs, and why a more holistic water agenda beyond WASH (WASH-Plus) is crucial for the post-2015 development framework;
• Explore how existing initiatives progressing measures beyond GDP, specifically those in natural capital accounting using the System for Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) methodologies, support linking IWRM and national development planning process; and
• Identify actions and capacity development needs for implementing a WASH-Plus agenda, including for implementing SEEA to support development and tracking of indicators for reporting on a WASH-Plus agenda in the post-2015 development framework.
DSD will collaborate with UN Statistics Division, other UN agencies and development partners to strengthen collaboration in moving forward.

Expected Output

A Workshop Report to capture lessons learned and identify tools and actions for:

a) Enhancing capacity for implementing more holistic agenda beyond WASH as outlined in current proposals for water SDGs in the post-2015 development framework.
b) Strengthening institutional capacity for more effective linkages between IWRM and national development planning processes.
c) Enhancing capacity to establish effective integrated monitoring systems and tools, such as the System for Environmental-Economic Accounting for Water (SEEA-Water) in support of national policy and for tracking and reporting on water-related SDGs.
Statements & Presentations

Number of statements/presentations: 11

Setting the Scene – Post-2015 the Context
Current developments on a water-related SDG
Ms. Ndey-Isatou Njie, Chief , Water, Energy and Capacity Development Branch
Evidence-Based Experiences & Lessons in Integrated Approaches in Water Resource Management and National Planning processes
From WASH to WASH-Plus
Partnerships in the area of measures to complement GDP and Tools in support of Implementing a WASH-Plus Agenda
United Nations