The 4th meeting of the OECD Water Governance Initiative (WGI) was hosted at the OECD headquarters in Paris. The Chairman of AIDA attended the second day only. Other AIDA members were also present.

After the third WGI meeting (Madrid, 28-29 April 2014), the OECD secretariat circulated a first draft of “OECD Principles on Water Governance” to WGI partners for comments and tabled it for discussion at the 4th meeting. Prior to this meeting, AIDA had formulated comments on draft Principles 1 (establishment of legal and institutional frameworks) and 7 (quality “regulatory frameworks”), which were not reflected in the draft.

The International Network of Basin Organizations (INBO) and UNESCO, co-leads of Working Group 3 on Basin Governance (WG3) of which AIDA is a member, had advanced work on “Key messages” and “Draft principles” on basin governance, for incorporation in the OECD Water Governance Principles. The Paris draft confirmed the river basin organizations thrust of the exercise. The development of indicators is invited to gauge the effectiveness of basin organizations.

The morning plenary debate provided an opportunity for participants to comment on the draft Principles. This writer insisted on the comments he had raised prior to the meeting. In particular, he had taken exception to the narrow formulation of Principles 1 and 7, both of which were reminiscent of the regulation of the water industry to the neglect of resource allocation and pollution control regulation. He had offered alternative wording to restore a more balanced approach. As neither the comments nor the proposed wording had been reflected in the draft, this writer insisted on the points he had made. The OECD secretariat undertook to reflect AIDA’s comments in the draft Principles.

The WG3 session agenda featured presentations on basin governance indicators by INBO and NARBO. The discussion that followed took the direction of a criticism of the group’s focus on river basin organizations, which this writer had raised earlier. The delegation from Turkey reiterated its reservations to including in the scope of work the transboundary dimension of basin governance. At the end, it was decided that inputs from WG members on the basin governance principles would be sought by 14 December 2014. A time horizon to 15 February 2015 was agreed for the formulation of indicators.

The afternoon session was devoted to the OECD Urban Policy Programme initiative “Water in Cities”. This writer drew attention to the regulatory mechanisms available to bridge the gap between land use and water allocation/pollution control.

Way forward

Work on the Water Governance Principles is expected to be completed in the spring 2015, with a view to endorsement at an OECD Ministerial meeting in June 2015. Work will continue in the four Working Groups with a view to agreeing on indicators by February 2015.  AIDA will continue to engage with the Initiative as a member of the basin governance Working Group.