WaterLex Legal Desk Director Jan van de Venis moderated a session at the 23rd Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Economic and Environmental Forum Tuesday in Vienna. It was the first preparatory meeting of the forum, on the theme of “Water governance in the OSCE area – increasing security and stability through co-operation.”
The meeting, which took place on 26-27 January, focused on illustrating best practices for implementing good water governance; demonstrating new approaches to sustainable hydropower and efficient irrigation; exploring the nexus between water, food and energy; fighting corruption in the water sector; and presenting basin management approaches across administrative boundaries.
OSCE states that water issues remain at the center of its attention. As increasing global population puts pressure on water resources, experts note, water governance will continue to play a major role in local, regional and global security.
The forum’s participants discussed various issues related to water governance, including its role in the development of environmental sustainability and economic and social prosperity and stability, as well as its role in the context of disaster risk-reduction. They also looked into how to better-promote dialogue in good water governance by sharing best practices and lessons learned, as well as how to to involve key stakeholders, including civil society organisations.
Mr. van de Venis was the chair and moderator of Session V: “Good water governance and transparency.” Panelists addressed the following topics:
- Transparency in the water sector at local and national level: security benefits;
- Fighting corruption in the water sector and promoting integrity;
- Economic instruments for increasing water efficiency; and
- The role of civil society and the business sector in good water governance.
On this panel and in the other sessions, many speakers called for strengthened laws, policies and practice based on the principles of integrated water resource management (IWRM). Environmental protection, human health, water quality, energy needs and economic prosperity all demand good water governance.
The onset of climate change and the increasing stress on water supplies around the world make the fight against corruption and for transparency and integrity in water management more urgent than ever. Achieving those aims is beneficial to water, economy, environment and security for present and future generations, and thereby for realizing human rights.
Solutions toward those ends include increasing public participation and the use of thorough environmental impact assessment, including consultation of stakeholders, education, building trust and empowering the legal systems, most speakers agreed.
It’s not the first time WaterLex works on transparency, integrity and corruption issues related to water. Please see:
- WaterLex brief: Corruption and the human right to water and sanitation
- WaterLex and the Water Integrity Network: Water Integrity Brief
- Article 19 (supported by WaterLex): The Free Flow Principles: Freedom of Expression and Rights to Water and Sanitation
The Economic and Environmental Forum is the main annual event in the OSCE’s economic and environmental dimension. The forum process provides a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue by bringing together officials from the 57 OSCE participating States and 11 OSCE Partner for Co-operation countries, high-level representatives from international organizations, as well as from the civil society, academic and business communities.
The forum’s main objective is to stimulate deeper political dialogue and generate commitments and recommendations for concrete activities to assist countries in dealing with economic and environmental aspects of security.
A second preparatory meeting will follow in May 2015, in Serbia, and a concluding meeting will take place 14-16 September 2015 in Prague.
For more information:
WaterLex International Secretariat
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Email: info (at) waterlex.org
WaterLex is an international public interest development organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is a UN-Water Partner with UN ECOSOC special consultative status. Its mission is to develop sustainable solutions based on human rights to improve water governance worldwide, particularly in regard to consistent water law and policy frameworks. It works with an alliance of interested parties to improve water-governance frameworks, bringing them in line with country obligations under international human rights law. The interested parties are individuals and groups working in government (diplomatic missions), academia (professors of law, researchers), bilateral cooperation (water management advisors), the judiciary (high/supreme courts judges), the UN system (UN-Water family members), and civil society (NGOs that work on water issues). WaterLex works in partnership with 13 universities to continuously enrich the content of the WaterLex Legal Database. The organisation is funded by grants and project financing from public agencies, foundations, private gifts, and in-kind contributions. Established in 2010, when the human right to water was recognised by the UN, the organisation has a secretariat in Geneva with 15 staff members, a supervisory board of directors, and a large pool of members and expert advisors. It is an official member of the Global Water Partnership, UNDP Cap-Net, UNDP Global Water Solidarity, UNEP Global Wastewater Initiative, and Swiss Water Partnership.