Enabling Water Goals through the SDG6 Policy Support System

  • 2021/01/12     Dresden, Germany

    The fifth session of the International Water Colloquium hosted panellists from UNU-INWEH, the Institut National de Recherche en Génie Rural Eaux et Forêts (INRGREF), Institution of Agricultural Research and Higher Education (IRESA), and Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) to discuss the topic “Assessing the Enabling Environment of SDG6 with Limited Evidence through the SDG6 Policy Support System”.

    By Raghid Shehayeb

    Dr Guillaume Baggio from UNU-INWEH, Dr Olfa Mahjoub from the Institut National de Recherche en Génie Rural Eaux et Forêts (INRGREF) and Institution of Agricultural Research and Higher Education (IRESA), and Bareerah Fatima from Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) discussed the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Clean water and sanitation) and on evaluating the environment to enable its achievement through the SDG6 Policy Support System (SDG-PSS). The session took place virtually on 2 December 2020 with around 40 participants joining.

    Image credit: Leigh Prather/shutterstock

    The International Water Colloquium, organised by UNU-FLORES, the University of Bonn, and TU Dresden, addresses the topic “Cooperation in Water Management – Tackling a Global Challenge”. UN institutions, alongside their local partners, share their experiences about collaborative water-related projects and activities, highlighting the need for cooperation within the water management. The series running from 4 November to 16 December 2020 aims to foster collective knowledge development and further possibilities for cooperation.

    Dr Baggio introduced SDG6 and highlighted the need to better understand and define the gaps within the enabling environment to achieve SDG6. He presented the SDG-PSS  as an online tool based on six components: capacity, finance, policy and institutional, gender, disaster risk reduction and resilience, and integrity. Nations with limited data availability can highly benefit from this tool to assess their environment for SDG6, share information, and make evidence-based decisions. The SDG-PSS is based on global collaboration, where countries like Costa Rica, Tunisia, Pakistan, and the Republic of Korea act as regional hubs for developing, implementing, and increasing the reach of the tool to 34 countries. It is also worth noting that this tool can be tailored to fit other SDGs or different spatial scales.

    Reflecting on the implementation of the SDG-PSS in Tunisia, Dr Mahjoub explained that a group of experts from international organisations, NGOs, research institutes, and ministry departments joined efforts to contextualise the tool to generate evidence to support policymaking. When it comes to the gender component of the SDG-PSS in Tunisia, the tool indicates the lack of gender-disaggregated data and that there is low access for women in rural areas to several aspects such as information, technology, and financial services. Key lessons learned from this project were the significance of collaboration and discussion between the different actors to provide qualitative and quantitative data and inform decision makers in the course of national policymaking.

    Bareerah Fatima presented PCRWR’s experience of using the SDG-PSS in the provincial context of Pakistan. The stakeholder organisations were identified and introduced to the concept of the tool and how to utilise it. The input of a diverse group of stakeholders into this singular reporting tool revealed that the financial commitment towards the SDG6 targets is poor. One of the key feedbacks from participating stakeholders on the SDG-PSS is their realisation of their roles towards the SDG6 and disaster risk reduction. Bareerah added that one major potential of the tool is its ability to provide an access point for collaborative working.

    Based on the experience in Tunisia and Pakistan, issues such as convincing policymakers on the importance of the tool, building stakeholder commitment, and receiving support from different institutions, were major challenges that faced collaboration. Additionally, the need to adapt the UN perspective on the SDGs to the local settings in developing countries became evident.

    The Colloquium participants raised several questions for the panellists regarding the applicability of the SDG-PSS on different spatial scales, its connection with other SDGs, and data gaps. The panellists indicated that it is necessary to take note of the areas of uncertainties and gaps in data availability, which pushes further the need for collaboration and data sharing. The next steps related to the SDG-PSS is to increase its reach to more countries and improve the tool based on the feedback from the local partners.