Leveraging OGP to Advance SDG 6

The principles of transparency, public participation and accountability are recognized as key to water and sanitation policies, as OECD’s Principles on Water Governance demonstrate. A number of international financial institutions have supported this work, including the Inter-American Development Bank (IABD) through its Transparency Fund, and the World Bank through the implementation of its citizen engagement strategy.

Some progress has been made in the incorporation of these principles in the water sector; however, successes are sometimes limited to statements or have been adopted unilaterally. In this context, the Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a unique mechanism that can support the co-creation of commitments to advance the operationalization of these principles, as illustrated by Uruguay’s commitment to formulate a National Water Plan. OGP represents a forum to encourage and facilitate cooperation among public officials, civil society, and citizens to identify actions with regards to access to information; open data and transparency; citizen participation and feedback; and accountability in the water sector. A distinct feature of OGP is its Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM), which requires governments to report on the completion of their commitments and conducts independent assessments on its ambition and implementation.

Though OGP countries are adopting a growing number of water-related commitments, both at the national and local levels, they have not yet achieved the full potential that OGP can offer. First, the dialogue between government authorities and civil society groups that focus on the water and governance needs to be strengthened, considering the participation of OGP’s open data, open contracting and open budget communities, to name a few. This takes time as they speak different languages and embrace different approaches, so trust must be promoted among the various parties.

Also, national public officials and civil society stakeholders could benefit from their membership in OGP’s partner organizations (such as ADB, IDB, World Bank, OECD and UND), engage them in the national consultation processes to develop action plans, and explore the possibility to leverage technical assistance and other resources from them – given the implementation challenges such as lack of sufficient funding and technical capacity - identified by an OGP review.

Given IFIs’ significant investment in water-related projects, by incorporating project components that embrace the pillars of open government, these organizations could comply with their transparency and citizen engagement strategies, while supporting OGP and open government reforms. Moreover, transparency is pivotal (as are the other open government principles) to the effective use of the additional resources needed that will help us advance SDG 6, as highlighted in the session “Making Best Use of WASH Finance. A Conversation with IFIs” at World Water Week that Stockholm hosted.