In collaboration with the University of New South Wales, Water Policy Group is currently collecting responses to the 2021 Water Leaders Survey. Responses to this confidential survey will be combined with all others to provide a regional and global understanding of water policy issues in order to prepare the Global Water Policy Report.
As part of the 2020 Water for Food Webinar series of the University of Nebraska’s Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute, Water Policy Group presented a webinar on Advancements in Agriculture Water Management and Regulation. The webinar discussed innovative approaches to water management and regulation in the agricultural sphere related to water quality and water use efficiency.
Water Policy Group member Anne Castle recently took part in a roundtable discussion on what the Biden administration might mean for water.
The discussion, which occurred on Circle of Blue’s ‘Speaking of Water’ podcast, featured Castle and two other U.S. water experts: Heather Cooley, Director of Research at the Pacific Institute; and Eric Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Environmental Integrity Project and former lead of the EPA Office of Civil Enforcement.
When asked about changes the Biden administration could make that would have significant leverage for water policy, Castle said that she hopes to see increased emphasis on long term impacts through actions such as considering the effects of climate change, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and rethinking Trump administration policies that emphasise short term energy development.
“If we take long term impacts into account on environment, water and equity, I think that shifts the mindset to look at how various individual projects and proposals are going to impact our entire economy and population over the long term.”
Water policy makers around the world face challenging issues that are constantly evolving. This complex policy landscape requires decisions that must adapt to uncertain conditions and draw from the best available information.
In July 2020, Water Policy Group announced its intention to support the newly launched Global Acceleration Framework for SDG 6 by issuing a regular Water Policy Report. The report will identify the key issues and constraints facing governments in the development and implementation of water and sanitation policies. The Water Policy Report will contribute to policy development by providing insight, timely intelligence and peer support offered by shared experiences from across the world.
For more information on the Water Policy Report, download a copy of the PDF brochure.
Today is the 10th anniversary of the recognition by the United Nations General Assembly of “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”
June 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter, established over the three pillars of peace and security, human rights, and development. These pillars are as relevant today as they were in June 1945, when the world was recovering from of the devastation of World War II. There is little disagreement now that collective action and solidarity is essential to tackle the global issues of our times.
Given the significance of these anniversaries, Water Policy Group calls on governments and development partners to rectify the lamentable lack of access to clean water by many in the global community and accelerate efforts to universally deliver this fundamental human right.
Water bridges the three pillars of the UN Charter and is also essential for realizing many other human rights:
“Water is necessary to produce food (right to adequate food) and ensure environmental hygiene (right to health). Water is essential for securing livelihoods (right to gain a living by work) and enjoying certain cultural practices (right to take part in cultural life).” 
Human rights to water and sanitation are also embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals, which include ensuring access to water and sanitation for all people. Having access to safe water can be a determining element to cut perpetual poverty. In the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to clean water and appropriate sanitation is literally a matter of life and death.
Water Policy Group has urged governments to base water decision-making on a human rights approach. This means prioritising the provision of services to the people and communities who are most vulnerable and not protected by existing safety nets. In many cases, this will require political leadership to reconsider conventional approaches, and change legislation and budgetary priorities.
Water Policy Group calls on governments to take the opportunity of unprecedented investment in COVID-19 response measures, disaster risk reduction, climate change-related initiatives and development actions to deliver on the human rights to water and sanitation. To do so, many governments will need to:
- empower and engage local communities;
- ensure frameworks and incentives are in place for the private sector to play a greater role; and
- find new ways for the disadvantaged, in particular women and youth, those with disabilities and other underprivileged groups, to receive the services they need to enjoy their human right to an adequate standard of living.
The concurrence of these anniversaries with the worldwide pandemic and evolving awareness of structural inequalities provides an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate progress toward the fulfillment of the basic human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. Water Policy Group urges governments and partners to seize this moment.
Water Policy Group
28 July 2020
 General Comment No. 15: The Right to Water (Articles 11 and 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights), adopted at the 39th Session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 20 January 2003.
In episode 3 of the University of New South Wales Global Water Institute‘s ‘Global Water Matters‘ podcast, Gretchen Miller interviews Water Policy Group Member and Australian water policy expert, Jane Doolan.
The interview provides unique insight into the past, present and future of Australia’s journey on water reform, starting with Jane’s early work in Victoria grappling with complexity of introducing environmental considerations into decisions around water allocations.
Jane and Gretchen also discuss the policy developments and cooperation between states and the Commonwealth that led to landmark developments in Australian water management including setting caps on extraction, changes to land that enabled a market for trade of entitlements and a mechanism to allow water recovered for the environment.
However, Australia’s water reform journey has not finished and the podcast concludes with a discussion on the focus of the current Productivity Commission inquiry including the importance of respect for knowledge of traditional owners and greater participation in water reforms by all first nation communities; progress on urban water reform – particularly efforts to maximise the social value of water in our cities; and ensuring that the mistakes of the past in south eastern Australia are not repeated in northern Australia as government investment in water infrastructure increases in this region.
Water Policy Group will contribute to ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all (Sustainable Development Goal 6) and support the newly launched Global Acceleration Framework for SDG 6 by issuing a regular Water Policy Report. The report will provide insight into the key issues and constraints facing governments in SDG 6 implementation.
The announcement of the Water Policy Report follows the Group’s call for governments to step up their efforts on SDG 6. The report will be drawn from surveying the views of many people in water policy leadership roles in a wide range of countries in all regions and climate zones and in different stages of economic development. By drawing on a very wide range of perspectives and policy experience from around the world, the report is intended to provide deep insight into the key enablers of and constraints to progress in achieving sustainable water and sanitation for all.
Many countries are not on track to achieve the water and sanitation goal by 2030, yet doing so is a necessary precondition to achieving all other sustainable development objectives, including health, food, clean energy, economic development, decent work, and environmental protection. For this reason, accelerated action on water and sanitation is imperative.
Water Policy Group applauds today’s launch of the Global Acceleration Framework by Secretary General of United Nations, António Guterres, and the collective work and will of 32 agencies of the United Nations and many partner institutions in preparing this through UN-Water. Through the Framework, United Nations agencies will assist governments with five ‘accelerators’: financing, data and information, capacity development, innovation and governance.
The Water Policy Report will cover all these topics, helping governments place the issues they are dealing with in a broader global context and supporting the Global Acceleration Framework. The survey component will be undertaken in collaboration with the University of New South Wales Global Water Institute.
Water Policy Group
9 July 2020
Water availability is at the core of the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and it is at the core of humanity’s progress. Clean water access is essential as a first line of defence to COVID-19 containment and is also key to effective treatment and recovery. Furthermore, the monitoring of sewage has emerged as a key surveillance tool for the early detection of the virus in the community.
While access to clean and safe water can largely be taken for granted in some countries, this continues to be a major challenge for many—as evidenced by progress reporting that many nations are not on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of clean water and sanitation for all people by 2030 (SDG 6). Many countries with plans and projects to meet the targets lack the necessary finance. As many countries implement emergency measures to secure essential water access to contain the spread of the pandemic, they are undertaking significant budget reprioritisation. In this context, Water Policy Group calls for water availability to be prioritised. Countries now have a rare opportunity to ensure that the economic stimulus measures that revive economies and create jobs also focus on water and sanitation sectors and align with a long-term future that is water-secure.
Water insecurity is acknowledged as an enormous risk to global economic development. Safe water availability is crucial to overcoming the pandemic, protecting the health of communities, and for economic development. Water Policy Group calls for governments to step up their efforts to achieve the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, with the support of international programmes, organisations, and partnerships.
Now is the time to deliver on the agreed social justice, environmental, and economic goals so necessary for global development and security.
Water Policy Group urges governments to:
- Base water decision-making on a human rights approach, with investments in new and improved water and sanitation services prioritising the people and communities who are most vulnerable and not protected by existing safety nets. Investments in water connections, improved supply chains for sanitation products, and decentralised infrastructure can provide better quality of life, improved health outcomes, and resilience to climate change and extreme events for millions.
- Adopt integrated solutions that create co-benefits, such as with the energy and food production sectors, and that create synergies with broader landscape management and agro-ecology, that hold the promise of more efficient and effective use of resources as well as environmental benefits.
- Attract new sources of private and public financing to pioneer the innovations needed to drive future sustainability.
Water Policy Group anticipates that the dramatic reprioritisation of national development and resource strategies resulting from COVID-19 should fundamentally change national water and development trajectories in the long term for the better. While it may seem to be conventional wisdom that societies have to go through a period of ‘arrested development’ as a consequence of the pandemic and concomitant economic shock, there is another option: to come out of this challenge stronger, evidenced by the many calls for a ‘green recovery’ and to ‘build back better’.
Water Policy Group
3 July 2020
Water Policy Group members are pleased to announce that Mr Ravi Narayanan of India has joined the Group as its tenth member.
On behalf of Water Policy Group, Mr Tony Slatyer said Mr Narayanan would bring a wealth of experience in water policy, programs and initiatives at the national and international level.
“As former Chief Executive of WaterAid UK, and with his other influential roles in India and in global forums, Mr Narayanan’s knowledge and understanding will allow Water Policy Group to better support global and national efforts to achieve universal access to safe water and sanitation for all people,” Mr Slatyer said.
Mr Narayanan’s membership comes at an important time, as global water experts, including Water Policy Group, stress the necessity of basic water and sanitation services for COVID-19 safety and for achieving most other social and economic development goals.
Mr Narayanan’s other current roles include being Chair of the Asia Pacific Water Forum and Chair of the Water Integrity Network.
On his new membership, Mr Narayanan says, “I am delighted to join such an eminent group and look forward to learning from my new colleagues and contributing with them to better water policy outcomes. I believe strongly in mission of the Group and the opportunities to improve water and sanitation outcomes globally through good policy at all levels.”
Other members of Water Policy Group are Ms Anne Castle, Ms Mercedes Castro, Dr Jane Doolan, Ms Felicia Marcus, Mr Dhesigen Naidoo, Dr Oyun Sanjaasuren, Mr Tony Slatyer, Mr Tom Soo and Dr Olcay Ünver.
Water Policy Group
15 June 2020
With an impressive career having provided hands-on leadership across many issues in the over-allocated Colorado River Basin, Anne’s insights come from the unique perspective of someone with both a professional and personal connection to the river—and a deep understanding of the all the many complexities involved in policy decisions.
How are the voices of Native Americans heard? How can water requirements be balanced between agriculture and cities? What is the role of non-government organisations? Is there a long-term plan to restore environmental flows to the Sea of Cortez? And what may the future look like for the river basin and all the communities and ecosystems that depend on it?
Listen to Anne’s compelling conversation with producer Gretchen Miller as they discuss some of the many challenges of managing the Colorado River, and talk about a new experiment that hopes to support a precious ecosystem situated downstream from one of the river’s largest dams.