“Condemning corruption is not enough!”

In the wake of Anti-corruption Day, a conference in the Middle East, North Africa and wider Mediterranean, co-organized by the UNDP-SIWI Water Governance Facility, calls for action to address corruption in the regions’ water sectors.

The water sectors of the Middle East, North Africa (MENA) and wider Mediterranean region need increased anti-corruption efforts to fight the inefficient use of water resources. This is the main finding of a water governance conference co-organized by the SIWI-UNDP Water Governance Facility (WGF) which took place in Barcelona 12-14 December 2017.

MENA is the world’s most water-stressed region, with over 60 per cent of its population living under high or very high water stress. Governance challenges such as corruption are pervasive in the region and aggravate water mismanagement, leading to inefficient usage of already stressed water resources.

Based on the outcomes of the conference, WGF, together with co-organizer Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med), argues that the following actions are needed for corruption to be effectively addressed in the region:

  • Investment in capacity development to enable people to make decisions on water in a transparent, accountable and inclusive way (also known as water integrity). Building capacity that allows institutions to make impartial decision will renew citizens’ trust – a prerequisite for anti-corruption. It also improves the institutions’ creditworthiness and allows them to attract investments.

  • The success of pioneers in water integrity must be acknowledged and supported by decision-makers at the highest levels. “Condemning corruption is not enough when implementation and enforcement of rules are neglected, undermined or obstructed at the same time”, James Leten at WGF claims.

  • Water integrity must be mainstreamed in all sector policies to ensure that water policies go hand-in-hand with promoting integrity.

The Conference on Water Governance in MENA and wider Mediterranean region was jointly organized by the Governance & Financing for the Mediterranean Water Sector project, led by GWP-Med, and the Water Integrity capacity-building programme for the MENA, led by WGF. It brought together more than 150 experts and stakeholders from the region. For three days, participants shared knowledge on good water governance and green financing, with the aim to contribute to the Water Agenda of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and to advocate for political leadership.