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Aziza Akhmouch

INTERVIEW - NEWSLETTER # 11 - WINTER 2011-2012

Interview with Aziza Akhmouch,

Head of the OECD water-governance programme

For the 6th World water forum, you coordinate the international group on water governance and you recently published the OECD book on water governance. What is the current situation in terms of the major governance issues?

The "water crisis" is in fact often a "crisis of governance". Access to water for the entire population is not simply a technical or financial issue, it also requires improved governance. Unfortunately, the responsibilities and commitments of the various stakeholders are highly fragmented. Whether countries are more or less developed, have more or less water and whatever their institutional situation, the challenges are the same, i.e. coordination of water policies and stakeholders, discrepancies between responsibilities and funding capacity, divergent goals among decision-makers and inadequate congruence between administrative and hydrological borders. To reach the Millennium development goals, improved governance is a mandatory condition to mobilise all water stakeholders in favour of sustainable water policies. There are no universal solutions and the OECD report provides an analysis and a number of comparisons that can be used to identify obstacles and implement proven techniques. The "Good governance" group coordinated by the OECD during the preparations for the 6th forum came to the same conclusions.

What do you hope the forum will do to advance governance on the basin level and what commitments do you think the international community might adopt?

The fact that the forum targets solutions is fundamental if it means we can go beyond simply drawing up lists. Technical, financial and even institutional solutions exist, but the difficulty lies in their implementation. The key messages issued during previous forums, the tools listed, existing platforms and initiatives will serve to transform the solutions into solid political goals. The next World forum in 2015 could then be the "implementation" forum for the commitments made in Marseille.

Over 300 contributors worked to produce some 100 "solutions" for good water governance that have now been listed on line. We hope to obtain solid commitments from the institutional partners and the key decision-makers to turn water governance into a priority and work toward the various targets. The OECD, for example, has committed to creating a network of leaders for good water governance, comprising many different stakeholders from around the world, to incorporate the targets from Marseille in its public-policy dialogues. The goal is to promote implementation of the solutions well beyond 2012, basing the work on shared experiences and synergy between the political, educative, scientific and citizenship sectors, notably in each river basin.

Evaluation of the performance levels of water and sanitation services is one of the six targets set to achieve good water governance. What are the main solutions that have been identified to improve performance evaluation and monitoring?

Performance indicators constitute a basis for dialogue, discussion and enhanced knowledge, and they enable a group of stakeholders to identify shared reference points. They are fantastic tools in a context of multi-level governance. Some 30 different systems have been listed, from the water-policy evaluation method of the EU to IB-Net at the World Bank, plus benchmarking (Portugal) and reporting (Australia) systems, the national observatory for water and sanitation services in France and real-time monitoring systems in Italy and the Netherlands. The diversity of systems would indicate that there is not an ideal system to measure performance, but rather that it depends on a collaborative effort between the national and infranational levels and must adapt to each context.

 

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