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The outcomes of the 10th APWF Webinar about Water Integrity

APWF organized its 10th Webinar and discussed the importance of strengthening integrity in the water sector in Asia and the Pacific, sharing standards, frameworks, tools, and good practices from policy to implementation level across institutions.

Topic: Strengthening integrity: crucial in advancing Water Security in the Asia Pacific
Speakers and Presentation title:

  1. Barbara Schreiner, Executive Director, WIN, Berlin
    Mainstreaming Integrity in the Water Sector, WIN’s Approach and Lessons Learnt
  2. Ibrahim Pam, Head, Green Climate Fund-Independent Integrity Unit, Incheon
    Integrity at GCF from Accreditation to Implementation
  3. Maria da Graça Prado, Senior Policy & Research Adviser, CoST, London
    Strengthening integrity in the water sector: Evidence from CoST Assurance
  4. Binayak Das, Programme Coordinator, Tools, Asia and Climate, WIN, Berlin
    Integrity Management Experiences-utilities, communities and river basins, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Indonesia

Presentation by Ms. Barbara Schreiner, Executive Director, WIN, Berlin

  • Integrity in the water and sanitation sector uses vested powers and resources ethically and honestly to provide sustainable and equitable water and sanitation services in the public interest. It is implicit in human rights obligations. It is operationalized through the principles of transparency, accountability, participation, and anti-corruption.
  • According to a 2020 Intra American Development Bank study, reducing corruption can lead to 7 – 16% financial savings in the water sector.
  • The social and economic costs of corruption, including impacts on public health and the environment, are larger than financial costs.
  • Integrity is key to building water sector institutions that are effective and credit-worthy, politically, financially, and socially. Moreover, integrity in water and sanitation is central to COVID recovery, increasing resilience to natural disasters, and achieving all the SDGs
  • OECD’s Policy Paper: Water Governance in Asia-Pacific, published in March 2021, shows Countries in Asia and the Pacific have not appropriately implemented integrity, stakeholder engagement, and monitoring & evaluation. Regarding integrity, less than 20% of ADB members have implemented relevant international conventions, institutional anti-corruption plans, or tools to track budget transparency.
  • Introduce the activities for integrity implemented in South Cotabato Provincial Government, Philippines, Gender and anti-corruption initiatives implemented by the anti-corruption committee in Indonesia
  • WIN has developed and implemented an Integrity Management Toolbox (IMT) for utilities, regulators, and policymakers in Asia, Latin America, and East Africa to identify key integrity risks in participatory approaches.

Proposal for improving integrity management

  • There is no magic bullet, but with strong leadership, commitment, building coalitions, using available tools and processes, change can be brought about even in contexts of systemic corruption
  • Civil society and the media have a critical role to play
  • The voices of women and the youth can have vital input and impac
  • Any actions should be appropriate to the local context and based on a risk assessment relevant to the local context
  • Talking about corruption makes many people uncomfortable – approaching building integrity is a better entry point.
  • As the policy recommendation for the government,
    • Emphasize integrity measures promote both good governance and financial efficiency, leading to “Quality Growth” (inclusive & participatory, sustainable and resilient”).
    • Include Integrity and Human Rights Approach to Water and Sanitation in the 4th APWS Declaration Document (Kumamoto Declaration) in 2022.

Presentation by Ibrahim Pam, Head, Green Climate Fund-Independent Integrity Unit

  • As of May 2021, 42 % of the GCF project has been implemented in Asia and the Pacific. Within that, 39% of the projects are water-related (28 water-related projects have been implemented. )
  • Introduced the integrity assessment process implemented by GCF-IIU, as it is critical to ensure the integrity in the entity accreditation of the GCF projects.
  • Key Takeways
    • 0% Corruption, 100% Climate Action
    • Integrity is a vital element in GCF projects for the water sector and the Asia-Pacific. The IIU ensures integrity through its range of innovative tools aligned with international best practices.
    • Entities can receive technical support to build their integrity capacity from the GCF-IIU.

Presentation by Maria da Graça Prado, Senior Policy & Research Adviser, CoST.

  • Discussed the integrity issues in water infrastructure and delivered the recommendation by sharing the activities, experiences, and lessons of CoST to strengthen integrity in the water sector.
  • CoST is a global initiative that government, industry, and civil society work together to disseminate resilient, inclusive, sustainable, and leaves no one behind. CoST conduct the activities to enhance social accountability by conducting the independent third-party review of projects to assess quantity and quality of disclosure and identify red flags.
  • CosT reviewed the 46 projects between 2016 and 2021, including improvement of sewage systems, expanding water supply, construction of water facilities & water kiosks, drilling wells & boreholes, flood relief systems, and developing dams & reservoirs, that is equivalent to the US$ 430million. CoST identified common integrity issues that were less transparency as the project evolves. There was no enabling environment to achieve accountability because of scattered information not systematically disclosed and the data accessibility change, etc. Furthermore, they also identified no feasibility studies in 30 out of 46 projects, and they conducted the additional works due to inadequate preparation. The tender was irregularities, inconsistencies, and questionable decision-making.
  • Introduced the case of CoST’s approaches, which has prompted the National Water Authority (NWARA) in Afghanistan to establish a “backup unit” as one of the practices to enhance the integrity and a sea change the governance structure. In less than one year, CoST surveyed 302 projects surveyed and designed 215 projects. It led to less room for malpractices in planning, tender, and delivery and lower risks of non-operational projects so that Agfanistan became a bit closer to achieving SDG 6.

Recommendation to strengthen integrity in the water sector

  • Improve transparency of water infrastructure, applying CoST internationally recognized standards where information is disclosed systematically, in a consolidated manner, and throughout the project cycle
  • Leverage stakeholder participation in helping identify risks and grey areas in the planning and delivery of water infrastructure

Presentation by Binayak Das, Programme Coordinator, Tools, Asia and Climate, WIN
Introduced the integrity management experiences by WIN implemented in water and sewerage authorities, communities, and river basins of Bangladesh, Nepal, and Indonesia. They include:

  • the implementation of awareness building for the government and ministries, communities, and small farmer groups on the topic of integrity;
  • support the plan to mainstream integrity in policies and laws and the implementation,
  • making budget allocation transparent by broadcasting over Community Radio by their local district officials; and
  • development of integrity assessment tools tailored to the local conditions.

Share the joint statement among WIN、GCF-IIU, and CoST toward raising ambition, empowering integrity action:

  • Recognize the indispensable role of integrity in the water sector in achieving impactful climate action, among others;
  • Advocate for collective action towards enhanced integrity for water security in the Asia-Pacific region;
  • Ensure that current and future investments for water, infrastructure, and climate-related projects are appropriately utilized and promote accountability.
  • Support knowledge and capacity building among water and climate stakeholders with transparency, accountability, participation, and anti-corruption;
  • Apply available and well-established frameworks, tools, and methodologies for assessing integrity risks and strengthening integrity within projects and institutions; and
  • Commit to ensuring continued support in fulfilling the agenda for sustainable climate finance for 0% Corruption – 100% Climate Action.

In the panel discussion, the speakers and audience discussed the effectiveness of introducing the concepts and approaches to integrity management early on. It will help change mindsets, rather than pointing out the corruption and criticizing negatively, even under the environment where the corruptions are mired in a culture of corruption. Integrity management itself can be considered an innovative approach. The rule of law and corruption is the other end.

Presentation document and the recording:

(Reported by Yumiko Asayama, Manager)

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