Interview with Dr Ania Grobicki, Executive Secretary, Global Water Partnership (GWP)
Ania Grobicki is the Executive Secretary for the Global Water Partnership (GWP), an international organization that seeks to build water security at all levels through its network of over 2,300 partner organizations around the world. Dr. Grobicki discusses GWP's ongoing engagement with UN-Water in global policy processes and at country and regional level.
How is GWP currently working with UN-Water?
There are two central ways in which the Global Water Partnership and UN-Water are working together. The first is to coordinate our actions within global policy processes. For example, over the past year we have been collaborating with UN-Water to develop key policy messages, organize events and distribute materials on the importance of water issues to climate change adaptation. Here we share a common message: intelligent water management is fundamental to adapt to the changes in water availability that result from a less predictable and more extreme climate. As an accredited member in the UNFCCC process, we have been able to work with UN bodies and other international organizations to raise the profile of water issues within the climate discussions.
Secondly, we also work closely with UN-Water at the regional, national and local levels. GWP has a strong network within its Country Water Partnerships, which we leverage to support UN-Water's country-level programs. Our country networks, which include organizations within government, NGOs, academia, the media, financial institutions and the private sector, offer an invaluable link between government bodies and the host of other actors involved in the development process. This allows us to have a powerful influence on water decision-making and assist our UN partners to synchronize their activities with others acting at the regional, national, and local levels.
Many in the water community claim that progress to mainstream IWRM within national planning frameworks is slow. How could the international water community accelerate the uptake of IWRM worldwide?
We have seen progress over the years: Many national governments have committed to developing plans for IWRM and a number of those countries have taken the next step to actually implement new integrated management frameworks. For IWRM policies to be successfully put into practice, however, it is not enough to only work with the planning processes done by the water managers. As sectoral competition for water resources escalates, the challenge, and the opportunity, to connect with those from other sectors who use and manage water for their own purposes becomes even more critical.
For GWP, this is why it is exciting to partner with UN-Water. The value of UN-Water is that each institution is structured to do entirely different things and mandated to work in separate focus areas, namely agriculture (FAO), health (WHO), industry (UNIDO), and a range of other sectors. This provides all UN-Water members with a tremendous opportunity to work through their own organizations to ensure that water in each sector can be managed better for the benefit of people and the environment.
The Global Water Partnership has forged a global network of over 2,000 members. In your experience from working with so many different organizations, how does one maintain a successful partnership?
I firmly believe that one of the keys for GWP's ability to cultivate fruitful partnerships has been our commitment to listen and respond to the demands that are articulated by our friends at the community, country and regional levels.
We have found a never-ending demand for capacity building and knowledge sharing, so this is an area we have prioritized in our work in several ways. First, through the GWP ToolBox, individuals can access an online resource with guidelines and extensive materials on IWRM in practice across the world. Individuals can also access and search the ToolBox to find specific information to help them tackle an assortment of development challenges, such as pollution prevention, flood control or adaptation to climate change. The ToolBox is meant to be a "one stop shop" resource, where visitors can see how unique challenges are approached in hundreds of case studies around the world and apply the lessons learned from these experiences. Many universities also use the GWP ToolBox as part of their Masters-level degree programs in Water Resources Management.
Beyond our work with the GWP ToolBox, we developed an associated capacity development program together with UNDP, which has now evolved into the organization Cap-Net. We continue to contribute materials and expertise to the numerous training courses Cap-Net conducts on a wide array of specialized topics. For the past decade, we have also run a program on Integrated Flood Management together with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Last year, together with several other partners, we expanded the program to include a demand driven Help Desk for governments interested in incorporating Integrated Flood Management into their national planning. In just one year, 14 countries have already formally applied for our services. Based upon the overwhelmingly positive feedback on the floods programme, we are now in consultation with WMO and other partners to create a new Helpdesk for Integrated Drought Management.
How will GWP be involved in the Rio+20 in 2012?
Together with UNEP and UNDP, we are undertaking a global assessment of IWRM across the world, which will be launched in 2012 at the Rio +20. The assessment will look at how IWRM has been established and mainstreamed into national planning, both in written policy documents and in their actual implementation. The survey will not only investigate the work done within the Ministries of Water and the Environment in individual countries, but will also look more comprehensively at how water is governed by all government bodies, organizations and members of industry who also have a substantial impact on how water resources are used.
The report will provide an important contribution to the Earth Summit's focus on the Green Economy. As water is vital to all sectors of the economy, IWRM is a crucial component of all aspects of green growth. This means that as we push for a social transformation and economic shift that can propel greener development, we will need an equal political commitment to ensure water security in regions that face growing water scarcity around the world. We hope the build-up and follow through to the meetings at the Rio +20 can catalyze such a commitment in 2012.