HLPF 2018: Why robust multi-stakeholder national accountability mechanisms are essential for achieving SDG 6

Date: 12th July 2018

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(The article below was originally published with support from WSSCC by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, here)

This side event convened to launch and discuss the findings of a global review on the effectiveness of national accountability mechanisms on progress towards the water and sanitation targets of SDG 6. The report is available online at: https://bit.ly/2KHTr4H

Moderator Catarina de Albuquerque, Sanitation and Water for All (SWA), stressed that the global review of national accountability mechanisms was conducted in 25 countries, in partnership with various CSOs worldwide. She said the study showed that accountability mechanisms are lacking in many countries and called for raising awareness among governments to ensure that multi-stakeholder mechanisms are effective and participatory in implementing the SDGs.

Amrith Rohan Perera, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN, noted the importance of partnerships, including with private sectors, CSOs, and youth. He outlined Sri Lanka’s efforts to realize a sustainable and resilient society, focusing on clear and safe water and sanitation. He highlighted the importance of not losing the great motivation governments have shown during the HLPF to make the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) a reality.

Snehalatha Mekala, Freshwater Action Network South Asia (FANSA), noted that effective accountability mechanisms for monitoring progress on SDG6 need a legal basis and regular, transparent, and participatory processes. She highlighted findings showing that accountability mechanisms are not available, even when countries report they are, and that they often are not effective. She outlined challenges, including: lack of a legal basis for existing accountability mechanisms; limited CSO participation; lack of diversity of stakeholders represented: insufficient financing and budget allocation; and the need for improved monitoring capacity of countries.

Irene Gai, Kenya Water for Health Organization (KWAHO) shared the results of a study that examined national accountability mechanisms in Kenya. She reviewed existing mechanisms and platforms for SDG 6, including CSO participation, and described key challenges, such as the need for harmonized data collection tools with targets and indicators and resources. She outlined key recommendations for governments and CSOs, including: the need for: enhanced inclusivity; increased transparency on budgets; building a stronger voice for CSOs; and improved CSO accountability to citizens.

Norma Munguia Aldaraca, Director of Global Issues, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mexico, reported on her country’s experiences with the voluntary national review (VNR) process, noting that data is always a problem. She said it takes time and knowledge for society to get acquainted with the SDGs and called for more involvement of municipalities and the private sector.

Ananda Jayaveera, Regional Sanitation Centre (RSC) and FANSA, Sri Lanka, emphasized mainstreaming CSO engagement and noted: his country’s efforts to establish a CSO platform and the importance of a service delivery system, especially for marginalized people.

Nathalie Seguin, Freshwater Action Network Mexico (FANMEX), said that CSOs participated in the negotiations processes for the 2030 Agenda, but that once adopted, they face more difficulties participating in national implementation. She noted current challenges, including: strengthening CSOs’ capacity to advocate for and engage in developing plans and indicators at the national level; and increasing collaboration with communities that are left behind. She called for the HLPF to consider a better mechanism for CSO participation and to accept CSOs’ shadow reports.

Sena Alouka, Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement, speaking on behalf of the African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW), spoke about the importance of CSO accountability, citing Burkina Faso as a positive example, and identifying the need for improved NGO governance.

Marianne Kjellén,Water & Ocean Governance Programme (WOGP), UNDP, described the role of UNDP and other UN agencies in supporting national governments and other institutions on national accountability mechanisms.

During the ensuing discussion, panelists identified promising ideas and inspirations and responded to participant questions, including on: linking the political sphere of the HLPF to the more legal sphere in Geneva; including SDGs in school curricula; the importance of partnerships to stop silo-thinking; producing and presenting shadow VNRs; and maintaining a comprehensive, not fragmented approach to the 2030 Agenda.

The close of the event included the official launch of the report, “Global Review of National Accountability Mechanisms for SDG 6” with a presentation of the first copy to Ambassador Amrith Rohan Perera. The report is available online at: https://bit.ly/2KHTr4H

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