Building the integrity and impact of Water Stewardship Partnerships

As water problems increasingly impact on all parts of society, multi-stakeholder partnerships hold potential as an approach to tackling shared water challenges. Businesses which recognise water risks are taking steps to mitigate them by partnering with public institutions, civil society organisations, and other water users.  As with any new approach, as well as providing opportunities, WSPs pose some risks.

For example: partnerships involve sharing of control with many parties, some of whom may face capacity limitations, conflicting objectives, or may bring reputational risks; they can also pose value-for-money, environmental, social and political risks to partners and public if they are not well designed or inclusive; and bring partners into disrepute if unfounded claims are made.

Water Witness International is leading international field work in five countries in Africa and South America to better understand the integrity risks facing water stewardship partnerships.  In partnership with the CEO Water Mandate, the Water Integrity Network and with funding from German Technical Cooperation (GIZ) we are developing a practical framework, guidance and tools to improve the impact and integrity of partnerships on water.

Partnerships with ‘integrity’ have:

  1. Trustworthy, credible and accountable partners;
  2. Inclusive, transparent, and responsive processes that lead to informed and balanced decision-making;
  3. Clear objectives and demonstrable outcomes that advance sustainable water management.

As well as making partnerships more cost-effective, sustainable and beneficial for society, ensuring high levels of integrity will create a safe environment within which parties can commit to working together to solve difficult water challenges.  From December 2013 – ongoing.

Guide for Managing Integrity in Water Stewardship Initiatives: A Framework for Improving Effectiveness and Transparency