OECD Studies on Water

2224-5081 (online)
2224-5073 (print)
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Water is essential for economic growth, human health, and the environment. Yet governments around the world face significant challenges in managing their water resources effectively. The problems are multiple and complex: billions of people are still without access to safe water and adequate sanitation; competition for water is increasing among the different uses and users; and major investment is required to maintain and improve water infrastructure in OECD and non-OECD countries. This OECD series on water provides policy analysis and guidance on the economic, financial and governance aspects of water resources management. These aspects generally lie at the heart of the water problem and hold the key to unlocking the policy puzzle.

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Stakeholder Engagement for Inclusive Water Governance

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13 Apr 2015
9789264231122 (PDF) ;9789264231115(print)

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This report assesses the current trends, drivers, obstacles, mechanisms, impacts, costs and benefits of stakeholder engagement in the water sector. It builds on empirical data collected through an extensive survey across 215 stakeholders, within and outside the water sector, and 69 case studies collected worldwide. It highlights the increasing importance of stakeholder engagement in the water sector as a principle of good governance and the need for better understanding of the pressing and emerging issues related to stakeholder engagement. These include: the shift of power across stakeholders; the arrival of new entrants that ought to be considered; the external and internal drivers that have triggered engagement processes; innovative tools that have emerged to manage the interface between multiple players, and types of costs and benefits incurred by engagement at policy and project levels. This report provides pragmatic policy guidance to decision makers and practitioners in the form of key principles and a Checklist for Public Action with indicators, international references and self-assessment questions, which together can help policy makers to set up the appropriate framework conditions needed to yield the short and long-term benefits of stakeholder engagement.

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  • Foreword and acknowledgements

    The world is facing critical water challenges: how to manage too little, too much and too polluted water, both today and in the future. These challenges stem partly from the failure of climate-change adaptation, the increase in the world’s population, and intensified competition among cities, farmers, industries, energy suppliers and ecosystems. Water crises can have devastating effects on food security, poverty alleviation, economic development and social stability. Decision makers will be forced to make tough choices about how to manage water for inclusive economic growth and environmental stability. Better engaging stakeholders both within and outside the water sector can help ensure that these choices are the right ones, and are implemented effectively.

  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Executive summary

    Water is one of the most serious sustainability challenges facing the planet. The OECD projects that by 2050, over 40% of the world’s population will be living in waterstressed areas and more than 240 million people will lack access to an improved water source. Given the size and nature of water challenges, tackling them requires a co-ordinated effort among policy makers and stakeholders: those who play a role in, and those who are affected by, actions and outcomes in the water sector.

  • Assessment and recommendations

    This report assesses the main trends, drivers, obstacles, mechanisms, impacts, costs and benefits of stakeholder engagement and provides pragmatic policy guidance to decision makers and practitioners in the form of a set of principles, including a checklist for public action and tentative indicators. Findings rely on desk research, literature review, empirical data from an extensive survey carried out across 215 stakeholders within and outside the water sector, and 69 case studies collected. The objective is to provide better evidence on what works best, when and where, as well as the framework conditions that are needed to yield the short- and long-term benefits of stakeholder engagement.

  • Stakeholder engagement and the water agenda

    This chapter sets the scene for stakeholder engagement as an increasingly important topic in water governance. It sheds light on recent policy trends towards greater inclusiveness, transparency and accountability. It provides definitions of key terms as well as insights from the literature on the various concepts related to stakeholder engagement. The chapter proposes a typology of stakeholder engagement levels, depending on the process and the intention they pursue, and looks at stakeholders’ roles as "targets" and/or "promoters" of engagement processes. The chapter presents the survey that was carried out to collect data analysed in the report, and concludes with a framework for analysing the stakeholder engagement cycle and its contribution to inclusive governance.

  • Drivers of stakeholder engagement in the water sector

    Two broad categories of factors affect the way stakeholders have been engaged in waterrelated decisions, projects and policies. Long-term structural drivers related to climate change, economic and demographic trends, socio-political trends illustrated by European policies, and innovation and technologies; and conjunctural drivers related to changing circumstances and situations, which include water-related disasters and policy reforms, social demand and competition for water resources. This chapter synthetises the challenges these drivers raise for water governance and the policy implications for stakeholder engagement practices.

  • Mapping water-related stakeholders at all levels

    Mapping water-related stakeholders is a stepping stone to effective engagement processes. This chapter provides an overview of the broad categories of stakeholders involved in water governance, including newcomers that play an increasing role in water governance, and actors who often remain unheard. The chapter analyses stakeholders’ core motivations in water resources management, water services, water-related disasters or environmental protection, as well as their interactions. The issue of scale and the role of stakeholder engagement in coping with the multi-level complexity of water decision making and implementation are also addressed.

  • Obstacles to engaging stakeholders in the water sector

    The chapter identifies the main obstacles faced by decision-makers to engaging stakeholders in the water sector. It examines the extent to which the lack of political will, institutional fragmentation and weak legal frameworks are hindering the integration of stakeholder engagement in water policies and practices. It also identifies barriers to the effective implementation of engagement processes on the ground, including the lack of clarity on how to use stakeholders’ inputs, and the lack of funding. The chapter suggests ways to overcome these obstacles and build anticipatory and resilient stakeholder engagement processes.

  • Stakeholder engagement me chanismsin the water sector

    The chapter provides a taxonomy of formal and informal mechanisms used to engage stakeholders in the water sector, including a focus on web-based instruments. Taking a closer look at each tool, the chapter reviews their strengths and their shortcomings, and provides practical examples. The chapter concludes with guidance to fit stakeholder engagement mechanisms to the right policy stage – from design to implementation; to the intended objectives; to types of stakeholder; and to the level of governance (from local to international).

  • Assessing stakeholder engagement in the water sector

    This chapter assesses the contribution of stakeholder engagement to water governance outcomes. It assesses the strengths and weaknesses of assessment tools available, and sheds light on the main challenges to evaluating stakeholder engagement’s impact. The chapter reviews existing indicators for measuring the effectiveness of stakeholder engagement, in terms of their processes and their outcomes and suggests typologies of costs, risks and benefits related to stakeholder engagement. It concludes with mitigation measures that can help manage the trade-offs needed for setting stakeholder engagement on an adaptive and sustainable path in the water sector.

  • Stakeholder engagement in the water sector: Key principles and a Checklist for Public Action

    Decision makers and practitioners are eager to receive pragmatic guidance that supports successful stakeholder engagement. This chapter introduces the framework conditions needed to yield the short- and long-term benefits of stakeholder engagement. It proposes a set of key principles and a Checklist for Public Action, with indicators, international references and self-assessment questions that can help identify areas of improvement and create common ground for policy makers and practitioners.

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