UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication
  • Date submitted: 31 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: United Nations & Other IGOs
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The toolbox

green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication is one of the two key themes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable De­velopment (UNCSD), Rio+20. The ?Synthesis report on best practices and lessons learned on the objectives and themes of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development? (A/CONF.216.PC/8) from January 2011 proposes that international prepa­rations for the conference should strengthen support for sustainable development by pro­viding a platform for exchanging best practices and lessons learnt.

According to the Synthesis report, it is important to look at existing experiences and to consider a variety of approaches, assessing how they contribute to sustainable develop­ment and poverty eradication. It suggests the development of a toolbox or best practice guide of actions, instruments and policies to advance the green economy.

This water toolbox is an output from the UN-Water conference on ?Water in the Green Economy in Practice: Towards Rio+20?. The objective is to provide proposals based on the analysis of existing practice, reflecting specifically on lessons from implementation, scal­ing up and the relevance for developing and transition countries.

The toolbox has been compiled by the UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC) on the basis of the documents and papers prepared for the conference by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), In­ternational Labour Organization (ILO), World Bank, UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development (UNW-DPC), Ebro River Basin Authority (CHE), UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN­ESCWA), and UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN­ECLAC). The documents and comments provided by a wide range of stakeholders before and during the course of the conference also contributed to the content of this toolbox.

2. The issues

Water plays a fundamental role in the green economy as it interacts with poverty, food security, health and so many other sustainable development issues. The UN-Water conference has identified four priority water-related issues where the

change towards a green economy needs to take place: agriculture, industry, cities and wa­

tersheds. Information briefs were prepared for each of these issues and reviewed by the

concerning UN agency. This section highlights the key points from these information briefs.

Agriculture can play an essential role in achieving a green economy since it accounts for 70% of global water withdrawals and provides employment for 40% of the global population. The key objective for agriculture is to achieve food security for an expand­ing population, but by using fewer natural resources.


Water scarcity and water quality degradation trends;

Rising food prices;

Vulnerability of small-scale farmers;

Growing population, food production and dietary habits;

Inefficient use of water;

Non-point source pollution of water, land and coastal areas.

Approaches to address the challenges: Coping with these challenges will require adaptations in agricultural practices, food production chains, food markets, land man­agement, water management practices ?including pollution control? information and knowledge, institutional capacities and, water governance.

Industry is critical for the delivery goods and services and for the creation of job op­portunities to foster poverty alleviation and the improvement of living standards. As the prime manufacturer of the goods and services that societies consume, industry has a critical role to play in creating more sustainable production and consumption patterns. It can promote the green economy by decoupling the consumption of mate­rials and energy from production, so doing ?more with less?.


Excessive use and contamination of freshwater;

Low labour productivity and a limited capacity for innovation in developing coun­tries;

Inefficient and unsustainable production and promotion of unnecessary con­sumption.

Approaches to address the challenges: Coping with these challenges requires advances in regulatory frameworks, a better normative framework focused on adapting manu­facturing practices to the objectives of a green economy, voluntary agreements and proper incentives. These approaches will enable more resource efficient production and processes; improve technological innovation, transfer and diffusion; and build the adap­tive capacities and skills required for the adoption of better water management practices.

Cities have a central role to play in the green economy, since the majority of the world?s economic activity and now over 50% of its population is concentrated in urban areas. Developments in cities have far-reaching effects upon the world?s economies, energy use and climate change. As centres of social interaction and economic activity, cities are the critical spatial platform for the formulation and implementation of policies across sectors.


Adequate water and sanitation facilities for growing urban population;

Meeting basic needs in slum areas;

Water pollution;

Water loss in supply systems;

Water price.

Approaches to address the challenges: Coping with these challenges requires building institutional capacities and governance to enhance the sustainability of urban development, the recognition of the importance of natural capital and ecosys­tems services for a more harmonic integration among urban and rural areas, awareness-raising, social involvement and leadership to make the objectives of green urban development the focus and the identity of cities, and sustainable urban water management.

Watersheds. Freshwater ecosystems provide services that are crucial for human sur­vival, supporting the economy and for the conservation of natural capital. Water ecosystems provide clean water for household use, agriculture and industry; they sup­port fisheries; recycle nutrients; remove waste; replenish groundwater; help prevent soil erosion; protect against floods, etc. This is particularly important for the world?s poor, as they often depend directly on water and other ecosystem services provided by rivers, lakes and wetlands for their livelihoods. Freshwater ecosystems are also water consumers and require water (environmental flows) to function and to ensure the on­going supply of valuable ecosystem services.


Environmental degradation and loss of freshwater ecosystems;

Overexploitation of water resources;

Climate change;

Lack of information and monitoring;

Weak participatory processes.

Approaches to address the challenges: Investing in the recovery and the adequate pro­tection of natural capital and freshwater ecosystems must be a primary policy objec­tive and coordinated with all other public policy sectors (e.g. agriculture, hydropower, manufacturing, urban development). This requires building the capacity of governing institutions to agree on precise objectives for ecosystem conservation, to implement and enforce these objectives, and to implement Integrated Water Resources Manage­ment. Water resources management requires the development of resilient and adap­tive social responses to extreme events and climate change.

EEconomic instruments for water management in a green economy

Economic instruments (EIs) are all incentives to modify individuals? behaviour in a predictable way such as, for example, reducing water consumption, reducing pol­lution loads or adopting a modern irrigation technique. There is a need to increase the use of economic instruments, enforce them and share experiences in order to im­prove efficiencies in water supply and sanitation services and in water use.

Utilising economic instruments in water management has a number of advantages. They can (i) avoid costly investments and make the case for low-cost, non-technical measures

(e.g. ecosystem services to secure water or protect against floods); (ii) generate revenues to fund water management and water-related infrastructure; (iii) align incentives and strengthen policy coherence across the board (water, energy, food, land use); and (iv) pro­vide information on the costs of status quo, the benefits of reform, and the distribution of these costs and benefits.

1.1. Approaches

Environmental or green taxes;

Water and sanitation charges;

Marginal pricing to incorporate the scarcity value of water;

- Fees;

- Subsidies;

Markets and trading (of water use and pollution rights);

Market based instruments such as payment of ecosystem services;

Consumer driven accreditation and certification schemes;

Economic instruments

Arrangements to send scarcity signals (including trading of water and emission rights, and offset schemes);

Insurance schemes;

Buy-back of water use rights for the environment.

1.2. Lessons learnt from implementation

Many decisions regarding water are made by households, firms, farmers and other economic agents that use water resources to satisfy individual demands. Properly designed and implemented economic instruments (EIs) have the potential to make all these individual actions coherent with the ability of water ecosystems to continue providing the services that underpin economic growth, the generation of public goods (such as security, health, recreational amenities, etc.) and the preservation of the water environment;

EI are not ends in themselves, but means (incentives) to the actual ends of water pol­icy (increased efficiency in the use of water, reduce poverty, etc.);

Water users respond to incentives. Introducing a variety of EIs can support the transi­tion towards a green economy. A combination of subsidies, taxes and pricing may gen­erate an optimal outcome;

EIs are useful but only in combination with good policies and regulation. The progres­sive implementation of economic incentives accompanied by institutional development can enable society to respond to water security challenges (e.g. prices to reduce water consumption in Israel ?especially during droughts?, markets to secure water for the environment in the Murray-Darling basin);

For any given water issue there are many different alternative EIs available. Instru­ments should be selected according the country?s stage of development and institu­tional framework (e.g. dealing with water scarcity prices may work in Israel; markets may be more appropriate in Australia);

Innovative EIs need to be adapted to the pre-existing institutional frameworks and to local conditions. They need to take into account other areas of public policy (e.g. agri­cultural policy, energy policy, climate change policy, environmental policy);

There is no such thing as the wrong or right price for water services. The right incen­tive is that which allows individual decisions over water use to be compatible with the collectively agreed goals of water policy;

Compared with behaviour change that is mandated by policy or law, EIs have the ad­vantage of reducing information and research costs (for example users may be more able than governments to find the most efficient ways to save water or to develop in­novative alternatives to reduce pollution);

EIs can be a powerful tool for encouraging the development or adoption of new water sources, e.g. water reuse, desalinisation;

Any EI offers many design options (water prices can be flat or volumetric rates, fix or variable per unit of consumption, etc.). The potential of an EI to deliver its intended en­vironmental outcome depends on its design (e.g. flats rates do not change behaviour and progressive prices are better to discourage excess water consumption);

Water markets can help secure water supply by allowing the trade of water from areas of surplus to areas of scarcity. Markets can reduce water demand by allowing the trade of water from low to high value uses, creating incentives to use water efficiently and reduce demand;

The use of water markets and trading needs to be properly regulated to safeguard pub­lic, third party interests and to ensure environmental objectives are met;

Marginal pricing can signal the optimal time to invest in water infrastructure so that sup­ply is augmented efficiently, and can reduce demand for water during periods of scarcity;

Good information about prices can encourage market participation and deliver more efficient transactions;

It takes time to set up the infrastructure and enabling conditions for markets. The govern­ment can play a role in establishing these conditions and getting all stakeholders on board;

Water markets can enable irrigators to respond more flexibly to drought;

Buy-backs of water use rights for the environment can secure water for environmen­tal flows and offset economic losses;

Emission permit trading for point and non-point pollution allows pollution to be re­duced from the lowest cost sources. Emission taxes create on-going incentives for all sources to reduce pollution;

In spite of recent improvements in information and communications technology, in­spection and enforcement costs are still high in many water policy contexts. The ben­efits and efficiencies gains achieved with EIs may be undermined by the high transaction costs resulting from implementation, monitoring, enforcement, bargain­ing costs, and so on;

EIs are effective when intended behavioural changes can be properly achieved at rea­sonable monitoring and enforcement costs;

Implementing EIs is more challenging when the political priority is social equity and poverty reduction rather than increasing water efficiency;

It is necessary to demonstrate the effectiveness of implemented policies and actions.

2. Financing water development in a green economy

n the transition to a green economy, financing means mobilising the funds required to drive sustainability and growth in parallel, alleviate global poverty, foster innovation and new green technologies, create green jobs, reduce scarcities, abate waste and greenhouse gas emissions and increase efficiencies in the production and consumption of water and energy. UNEP has estimated that under the green economy investment sce­nario the additional investment in the water sector that is required would be $191 billion per year until 2030 and $311 billion per year until 2050. The challenge is more than just attracting funding; it is also about making better use of the limited financial resources available.

Apart from providing access to water and sanitation and building water infrastruc­ture, funding is particularly needed to increase resilience and adaptability to extreme events and climate change, reduce water scarcity, and diversify water supply sources and demand management. Financing is also essential for supporting capacity build­ing, transparent information and enforcement mechanisms and improving water gov­ernance.

2.1. Approaches

Improve the effectiveness of existing financing;

Assess and increase the efficiency of government spending through Public Ex­penditure Reviews;

More efficient use of water and energy and better quality services in order to im­prove corporate responsibility, public stewardship, social acceptance, cost re­covery and the financial sustainability of water services provision;

Improve economic returns in water utilities in order to improve access to funds and reduce financial risk premiums;

Tariff reforms to reflect the real financial, resource and environmental costs of water services;

Innovative funding schemes e.g. through Official Development Assistance of lo­cally managed initiatives, results-based financing, public-private partnerships. These instruments include:

Social contract formulas of financing in urban areas and rural areas;

Enhancing investments for generating knowledge that is made available as a public good;

Small-scale financing;

Pro-poor financing;

Pro-The toolspoor cost recovery;

Results-based financing, e.g. via Output-Based Aid (OBA) schemes and social contracts and for pro-poor financing.

Better focused financing and subsidies for poverty reduction and equity improve­ment, through micro-finance, and training opportunities supported by Social Safety Nets (SSNs);

Financing water development

Reducing capital needs by adapting investment decisions to local resource en­dowments, giving priority to small scale, land- or labour-intensive options (e.g. substituting fixed capital by voluntary labour);

Improving access to and effectiveness of capital at local and community level;

Involvement of the private sector to improve efficiencies, e.g. through delegated management under Public Private Partnership contracts, outsourcing of non-revenue water reduction activities, and technical assistance contracts;

Prioritisation of government investment in areas that stimulate the greening of eco­nomic sectors and the reduction of spending in areas that deplete natural capital;

Prioritisation of financing programmes that generate strong synergies with local development.

2.2. Lessons learnt from implementation

Public Expenditure Reviews (PERs) provide a transparent and objective means to assess the efficiency, effectiveness and equity of resource allocations. They serve to identify bottlenecks that impede appropriate and effective use of public funds. Water-focused PERs that link spending to outcomes can increase political will and help the government ministry responsible for water ?make its case? to the Ministry of Finance;

Efficiency improvements are a key precondition to making water services financially sustainable in the long term. They serve to make cost recovery prices legitimate and socially acceptable;

There are still significant gains to be obtained from improving the efficiency in the water sector. Inefficiencies can be technical (e.g. non-revenue water), managerial (e.g. corruption, billing, collection, pricing signals), institutional (e.g. sector governance, coordination among sectors), or related to the regulation and investment climate (ma­croeconomic policy, economic stability, long term confidence, etc.). Eliminating ineffi­ciencies result in savings of more than 0.8% of GDP annually;

There is a positive feedback between increasing the effectiveness of public funds and in­creasing efficiencies in service provision. Public expenditures that effectively target the poor and build vital infrastructure provide the foundation for sustainable service deli­very. Improving efficiencies in service provision increases profitability, improves willing­ness to pay, and justifies ?green? tariffs that reflect financial and environmental costs. Creditworthy providers are able to access new funds at better terms, reducing the re­liance on public funds;

Cost recovery tariffs coupled with clear and transparent subsidies for low income fam­ilies is an efficient way to rationalise water use and increase coverage of water and sanitation services; however an important precondition is public investment in the uni­versalisation of service coverage;

Mechanisms are needed to match the interests of potential investors with those who are most capable of applying financial funds to water investments. Small and medium

enterprises (SMEs), small holders and municipalities often have difficulty in accessing capital. Water User Associations may have similar problems;

Revenue security is not only a way to guarantee the financial sustainability of water services but also to reduce risk and hence the cost of loans;

There are considerable gains involved in making the best use of the scarce capital avail­able. Reducing capital requirements or substituting capital with other inputs (e.g. volun­tary labour or land), are means to reduce costs and cope with tight financial constraints;

Significant efficiency gains can be achieved from better designed water tariffs such as separate charges for water supply, wastewater discharge, and surface water runoff;

The severe financial constrains existing in many least developed countries translate into low levels of investments in the water sector. Well-managed projects generating financial revenues and with provisions for risk bearing are better equipped to cope with these financial constraints;

Pricing water is still a political challenge in most of the world. Prices are important for making people aware of the importance of water, making water utilities accountable for the services they provide to their customers and for improving and guaranteeing the continuous provision and financial sustainability of water services;

Collaboration and cooperation between governments, private, and public entities is the best way to support the expansion of water and sanitation services and invest in so­cial welfare;

Maintaining the MDG achievements already made in the long term depends on the abil­ity to make the provision of basic water and sanitation services financially sustainable and also the capacity to finance water development for food security, energy provision and other critical areas of economic development;

Generating revenue through tariffs is often difficult for some investments, particularly those with characteristics of public goods (e.g. sanitation, pollution treatment and abatement, biodiversity protection). Governments can play a proactive role in investing in water infrastructures that have relatively higher start-up costs. The benefits of these investments are longer-term with positive externalities;

Cost recovery of water supply and sanitation services is a strong element of the finan­cial sustainability of water utilities and allows for better service delivery to consumers

(e.g. in the Western Asia region).

Lessons learnt in agriculture:

The transaction costs of collecting revenue or making trades (in agriculture) are frequently high relative to the resource cost of the water. High income countries have been able to take advantage of investments for other reasons (i.e. GIS, remote sensing) to cut the transaction costs of some interventions (e.g. separate charges for surface water runoff). These strategies have not been available to low income countries;

Low cost revenue recovery mechanisms with the potential to generate secure streams of revenue are still required in the agricultural sector;

Development of cost recovery mechanisms in agriculture can provide a constant and more secure flow of revenues independent of yield fluctuations. Drought insurances can help stabilize rural income and so secure revenues for water services.

Lessons learnt in relation to developing and least developed countries (LDCs):

In developing countries, investments are needed to increase crop yields, for example through irrigation projects. Funds are also needed to improve the way water is used in the economy, through investments in efficient water transport, distribution and use systems;

In spite of poverty and low saving ability, financial mechanisms for water development do exist in LDCs. For example, small scale finance can mobilise savings when they are scarce;

In LDCs, low income levels result in low saving rates and low investment capabilities. Breaking this vicious circle is one of the main financial challenges that need to be over­come in order to begin the transition to a green economy;

Eliminating the exchange risk premium by allowing multilateral development banks to lend in the domestic currencies of the developing countries would support the advance of domestic financial markets in these countries;

Social contracts can foster the empowerment of rural communities to preserve their own water resources and promote development opportunities (e.g. the Naandi Foun­dation, India).

Lessons learnt in relation to pro-poor financing:

Subsidies are necessary to help those who cannot afford to pay the full cost of water services. Subsidies have to be carefully designed to avoid unintended incentives to con­sume too much water or to favour capital intensive investments;

Subsidies should be targeted to reach the poor and promote the efficient use of water and energy.

Investments in water and sanitation and pro-poor financing can contribute to poverty alleviation. The most financially sustainable actions are those that reduce poverty and promote growth at the same time; they promote equality, but not at the expense of

growth and they make equity a condition for sustainable growth. These actions are easier to fund precisely because they offer better conditions for cost recovery;

Rural poor households are willing and able to pay for water services. However. the im­plementation of volumetric water prices requires community awareness campaigns, especially when a cost recovery tariff is a novel concept;

Financing programmes that target the poor must be built on a thorough analysis of the beneficiaries? local conditions in order to be flexible and custom-made. This re­quires interdisciplinary study of economic, social and psychology behaviour, as well as the rules, regulations and institutions that affect social behaviour;

Credit for the poor is not the solution when it does not contribute to income genera­tion or savings for consumers ? it should be seen as a temporary measure.

Lessons learnt in relation to Output Based Aid (OBA) schemes:

The successful implementation of OBA schemes for water services provision can gen­erate a number of benefits:

A proven incentive to encourage competitiveness and efficiency;

Helps refocus service provision on household demand;

Rewards service delivery once quantity and quality are independently verified;

Acts as an incentive for providers to reach the poor (otherwise they risk low cost recovery);

Gives the poor an opportunity to connect to a network at low cost;

Increases accountability;

Provides an incentive for providers to pre-finance their work;

Transfers procurement and financial management-related risk to service providers and the private sector;

Provides incentives for the efficient use of money, materials and time;

Provides a simple regulatory, legal and contractual framework ? including poli­cies for setting and adjusting tariffs;

Makes monitoring of service delivery a priority;

Enhances an understanding of and willingness to work with performance-based arrangements;

Enables the capacity development of water authorities and social actors, e.g. to handle transaction processes such financial management and the monitoring and verification of results;

Develops experience in public-private cooperation, where relevant.

OBA schemes are custom made and not easy to transfer from one context to another. Their effectiveness should be tracked through constant monitoring and evaluation;

Governments must understand the benefits of being able to clearly monitor and meas­ure the impact of its investments. The formulation of clearly defined incentives re­quires reporting systems that generate systematic and reliable information to Investing in natural capital

3.2. Lessons learnt from implementation

Payment for ecosystem services (PES) offers a real opportunity to bring the value of na­ture into the economic arena and thus promote improvements in natural capital. Lessons learnt from PES schemes are the following:

Public information and awareness to promote PES schemes:

Education, public campaigns and dissemination of robust studies of the challenges faced are required to increase the public and private awareness of the importance of ecosystem services;

Better information on the importance of ecosystems services can be important in sen­sitising stakeholders to upstream?downstream environmental linkages and to the eco­nomic significance of the ecosystem services provided;

Increasing the recognition of how individuals? actions and welfare are interconnected through freshwater ecosystems is important for generating the willingness to engage in negotiations to find mutually beneficial agreements for ecosystem conservation. This is also important to gain social acceptance of PES as an instrument for water management;

Information is essential to convince downstream water users that they should con­tribute financially to the protection, maintenance or restoration of ecosystem services by upstream landowners/managers. Downstream water users who already pay fees or taxes for their water consumption, may be ?forced to pay twice? by any additional levy or charge for ecosystem services;

It is important to identify ?beneficiaries? and ?suppliers? of ecosystem services and rep­resentatives of each group who are able and willing to participate in discussions/ne­gotiations on behalf of others. Stakeholders may include different categories of ?actors?, some of whom are direct suppliers/sellers or users/buyers.

Start small and scale up:

In most situations PES is an innovative instrument and its successful implementation requires overcoming an adaptive ?trial and error? and ?learning by doing? process. ?Starting small? and ?scaling up? is better than trying to implement a fully fledged fi­nancial mechanism from the beginning;

PES is not a panacea. It is normal to be confronted with a range of challenges, requir­ing continual adaptation.

Achieving both environmental and social objectives:

PES can support livelihoods of ecosystem service providers and therefore jointly meet social and environmental goals;

The success of PES hinges on its ability to provide suppliers of environmental services with better economic prospects. Sustainable provision of ecosystem services can be achieved through changes in land-use practices that are both equitable and support ex­isting opportunities for economic progress;

Charges paid by water users must be set at a level that is acceptable to the water users but which still generates sufficient income to finance planned investments in environ­mental protection upstream;

Payments to upstream land/water managers must be set at a level that is equitable and sufficient to act as an incentive to conserve natural resources (regardless of the stip­ulations of any contract or sanctions for non-compliance) rather than continue ex­ploiting them unsustainably;

Implementing PES is a means to convert conservation of water sources into a win-win solution for water users (e.g. FONAG, Ecuador).

PES schemes design:

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions. Successful PES schemes may be very de­manding in terms of design effort, depending on the economic and institutional/gov­ernance framework and the intended environmental outcomes they must deliver;

To be effective PES schemes need to have predefined and easily observable objectives to provide clear indicators of success (and failure);

Pilot projects provide a valuable means of testing and adapting internationally or na­tionally proven PES approaches to local conditions;

Poorly designed PES schemes are not only ineffective, but are also associated with ex­cessive administrative and implementation costs;

It must be ensured that any financial mechanism proposed is in line with policy and leg­islation of the country where it is implemented;

There should be a clear connection between the payment and the service being provided.

In practice it is difficult to assign a value to a particular service or area;

It is essential to build trust and a spirit of partnership or mutual ?buy-in? among stake­holders which can be achieved through a programme of public awareness;

Buyers need ?progressive? thinking and long-term vision (benefits may be slow to ma­terialise);

Communication of the PES scheme should be simplified in order to ensure the under­standing and engagement of the stakeholders;

Investing in natural capital

PES can be institutionalised as a financing mechanism for river basin management;

Corporate and social responsibility (e.g. image, reputation) can help attract private sectors as buyers;

The ?payment? in Payment for Ecosystem Services can be non-monetary. For example, conditional land tenure can be a pro-poor reward to upstream farmers for providing ecosystem services (e.g. Indonesia);

Payments must be determined through transparent mechanisms with the participation and effective involvement of the community;

Water Funds are learning-by-doing solutions that can be adapted to different circum­stances in order to guarantee the preservation of critical water providing ecosystems.

The need to monitor and have a baseline scenario:

A transparent and technically designed monitoring programme is an integral part of any PES scheme and needs to be designed and agreed upon in advance;

The need of a proper baseline and clear monitoring provisions is easily forgotten in the midst of complex negotiations to establish workable financial mechanisms;

Environmental outcomes can only be attributed to a PES scheme provided there is a clear baseline scenario allowing for the comparison of scenarios with and without the PES scheme. Comparing situations before and after is uninformative because of the lack of a counterfactual demonstration that the observed outcome would not have oc­curred in the absence of the PES scheme.

Water technology

innovative water technologies, and the lack of knowledge dissemination. Although the know-how is readily available it might not be accessible on-site.

4.1. Approaches

Improving technology choice in both the public and the private sector;

Technology transfers from developed to developing countries;

Adoption of existing water efficient technologies;

International financing sources to support clean technology adoption;

Use of success stories;

Learning from other sectors;

Expanding access to technologies;

Reform of the global intellectual property regime;

Improvement of skills and trainings;

Knowledge transfer through information technology;

Green business needs business structures (from charity to investment);

Find compromise between high-tech and low cost technologies;

International cooperation and collaboration on research and development.

4.2. Lessons learnt from implementation

There are many available, tested but still not completely diffused technologies that are strong enough to tear down barriers and water governance-deficits (e.g. online mon­itoring of wastewater effluents with real-time data transmission to address the prob­lem of poor law enforcement);

Technology choices need to be adapted to local conditions and especially to existing fi­nancial constraints, availability of labour supply, management abilities, etc. Knowing these constraints helps to find the proper balance between both small-scale and large technologies that may yield optimal results. (e.g. both micro-harvesting and large water resources development projects in agriculture);

Success stories can transfer lessons learnt from one case to another with compara­ble location, situation or site-conditions;

There are important ?avenues for leapfrogging? open to least developed countries to foster the transition to sustainable production and the advance in energy and resource efficiency;

The experience with information and communication technologies demonstrates the capacity of poor countries and poor communities to achieve a jump in the technologi­cal development process;

Water usage is often technologically determined and changing behaviour requires re­placing the current technology being employed with an alternative technology. Capital costs can often be significant;

International cooperation and local collaboration in research and development (e.g. through networks or clusters) can contribute to the innovation, development, adapta­tion and diffusion of green technologies;

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) applications can reduce environ­mental impacts and also affect how other products are designed, produced, used and disposed of. ICT can also contribute to making information easily and globally acces­sible, to standardising problem solving approaches and avoiding repetition of failures;

Political governance and donor finance have been able to open up opportunities to un­lock greentech development potentials, for example the development of pilot projects for water loss reduction under a public-private partnership scheme (e.g. Burkina Faso);

Advances in desalination technology have assisted some countries of the Western Asia region meet growing domestic water demand by using desalinated water;

The lack of knowledge dissemination may hinder the application of water technologies;

Wise technology transfer in LDCs means adapting technology to green development needs and contexts, avoiding lock in. Technology adoption should guarantee sustain­able resource use and innovation within the chosen technical options;

The best technology options are those selected in a participatory and transparent man­ner to implement the collective goals of water policy;

Water governance is an integral part of technical choice and progress;

Even in LDCs there is scope for finding adaptive solutions to water management prob­lems within the range of available technologies;

Technology transfers are not necessarily one way from developed to developing coun­tries. Technological innovation can occur in developing countries;

It is not always clear whether technologies are ?green?. Any technology has an impact, and these outcomes need to be understood in terms of growth, resource conservation and poverty reduction;

Choosing the appropriate technology for the context is crucial: transferring the tech­nology is one matter, but sustaining it is another (local capacity for operation and maintenance is an important consideration, and training may be required, e.g. Burk­ina Faso);

Water technology researchers and project developers can learn from other more sec­tors of industry that are more technologically developed than the water sector;

Industrial wastewater reuse can generate economic and environmental benefits by making more water available for development and reducing pressure on the environ­ment (e.g. wastewater treatment plant);

5. Green jobs

he promotion of green jobs is central in the transition towards a greener economy. Green jobs result in the reduction of the environmental impact of industries, com­panies and economies; promote the efficient use of local resources; and result in the generation of income and progress opportunities for individuals and their communi­ties. Green jobs can play a key role in socially inclusive development if they provide ade­quate incomes, social protection, respect the rights of workers, and give workers and employers? organisations a say in decisions that affect their lives. The shift towards a greener economy means the creation of new jobs, such as skilled jobs in emerging green industries and services. However, other jobs will be redundant and will disappear, so ac­tive labour policies and social reforms will be needed to facilitate the re-allocation of workers from contracting to expanding sectors and firms, such as those that replace pol­luting activities with cleaner alternatives or those that provide environmental services.

5.1 Approaches

The design and implementation of active labour policies and actions in order to:

Maximise the labour creation potential of green activities and practices;

Meet the demand of new skills in green sectors;

Foster labour market dynamism in order to facilitate the transition in the labour market, reduce unemployment in the interim and reduce social conflicts;

Promote an inclusive labour market;

Create opportunities for productive employment and decent jobs for all;

Use local labour, knowledge, industry and resources.

Active education and human capital policies in order to:

Adapt workforce skills in advance to the emerging green job market;

Promote investments in human capital and in particular in the acquisition of ?green skills?;

Increase effectiveness and reduce the costs of building competences in green technologies;

Focus on younger professionals as they yield better outcomes, and have higher potential to propel permanent changes in mindsets (e.g. Egypt eLearning).

Provide social protection during the transition:

Protect the poor unskilled workers already in the traditional sectors and facilitate their inclusion in the emerging green sectors;

Use education and training public policies as a mean to favour the inclusion of the poor in the green economy.

Improvements of governance/institutional arrangements in order to:

Enhance social dialogue and collaboration;

Improve management practices;

Promote participatory approaches and empowerment for managing change.

5.2. Lessons learnt from implementation

When the supportive measures and policies are in place, the transition to green prac­tices and the promotion of green products and production processes can result in the creation of numerous job opportunities that can facilitate social inclusion and poverty reduction;

The green economy is a critical opportunity to advance in all the social aspects of sus­tainable development through adequate: education, health, social protection, gender equity and labour policies and measures;

Labour market and training policies can play an important role in achieving a socially fair transition to a green economy. They can help facilitate the structural adjustments associated with the green economy, while minimising the associated social costs;

For this transition to be smooth, labour market institutions need to be reshaped. Many social impacts of the transition towards a green economy depend critically on the coordination (or the lack of it) between the decline of some jobs and the cre­ation of new green jobs. By helping workers move from jobs in contracting sectors

(e.g. polluting activities) to expanding sectors (e.g. in environmental services), ac­tive labour policies can help to ensure the costs of the transition are shared fairly. Workers of declining sectors should be properly protected and assisted to find al­ternative job opportunities;

Jobs are ?green? if they provide adequate incomes, social protection, respect workers? rights, and give workers a say in decisions that affect their lives;

Green economy policies and measures that affect employment must take into account the needs of the vulnerable;

Potential conflicts and social contest can be effectively prevented if the unavoidable disruption of the labour market is anticipated by workers and firms, so they are able to find the way to reconvert their skills and production processes in advance;

The social or labour impacts of any ?green economy? policies or measures should be analysed in advance. Sectoral policies should take into account their potential to lever­age job creation.

Social dialogue is more effective than leaving individuals to respond to conflicts. It can help build a social safety network and provide a coordinated and anticipated re­sponse rather than a competitive, individual and reactive answer to labour market disruption;

Most of the negative effects of the unavoidable destruction of some employment op­portunities can be avoided, minimised or managed, for example through labour mar­ket reform, programmes to help firms to adapt, and education and training programmes to adapt the labour supply in advance;

True dialogue must be continuous and should include all issues, from those of com­mon interest to those that concern only particular groups most affected by the change. The agenda must be flexible to incorporate the communities? concerns;

Engaging a wide cross section of society requires different approaches and ways of working;

Well-designed green education and training programmes will have an important role to play in helping workers to exploit the potentials of the emerging green economy;

Project managers need to respect cultural differences, including preferred consulta­tion mechanisms and the time needed to make decisions;

Local workers and water users have resources which can be harnessed to promote sustainability, e.g. their common interest, collective memory and knowledge of the terrain;

Traditional community leaders must take part in conservancy committees in order to find more adapted solutions as well as to avoid conflict and delays;

Sharing the benefits from increasing the efficiency of water provision between work­ers and service providers is an effective means to enhance cooperation, reduce con­flicts and ensure the achievement of environmental goals;

Making local people aware of their rights enables them to challenge elitist and self-serving behaviour within committees;

Consensus is needed to implement environmental activities within the project frame­work, particularly when party staff and politicians want to control projects in order to reach their own goals and to secure votes;

Improving responsible management practices at and around the workplace can greatly contribute to cleaner, greener and safer practices, reducing emissions and preventing health care costs of occupationally related accidents and illness;

Organisational change or reforms which are undertaken from the bottom to the top ? by empowering workers and employers through consensus-development and partic­ipatory approaches? are more likely to change the culture of the organisation and result in better designed and adapted capacity development programmes;

De-privatisation is not an end in itself, but can in some contexts serve to recover col­lective objectives and values of water management leading to quality improvements and participative decision-making;

Differences of culture and idiosyncrasies of each region, province and district must be observed. A more focused and localised approach may provide reform processes more flexibility to evolve.

6. Water planning

reen growth requires that welfare improvement and economic growth are made compatible with the conservation of water related ecosystems. Water planning is a powerful social tool for identifying how to allocate and use the available water re­sources to meet the competing needs of different users and sectors, including environ­mental requirements. Planned and anticipated responses are needed to ensure the provision of water services which underpin the economic system. Water planning is also necessary to cope with environmental challenges such as water scarcity, water quality degradation and climate change risks. It is essential to build governance and institutional capabilities to agree on, design and effectively implement long-term integrated water management plans in order to support the transition towards a green economy.

6.1. Approaches

Agreement on the desired balance between water use and water resource con­servation;

Harnessing development opportunities and addressing environmental and de­velopment challenges;

Building governance and institutional capabilities;

Coordinating public policies;

Stakeholder engagement and public participation;

Aligning private decisions with collectively agreed goals;

Establishing collective responses to scarcity and risk.

6.2. Lessons learnt from implementation

In Europe, setting the objective of reaching a good or fair ecological status of the water bodies as the main objective of River Basin Management Plans has proved to be key means to make economic development compatible with the chosen environmental ob­jectives;

Adopting a set of international commitments regarding the environmental status of international rivers has enabled the coordination of national development policies with water planning;

Clear objectives for freshwater ecosystems restoration have been a critical for gaining social acceptance and approval for investments in infrastructure and natural capital in many developed and underdeveloped countries;

Water planning has played an essential role in:

The development of the agro food and energy complex that now represents a com­petitive advantage and is a defining characteristic of the Ebro River Basin in Spain;

The setting of clear, ambitious and measurable water environment objectives in the Ebro River Basin in Spain;


io+20 needs to demonstrate that a green economy is possible; that there are oppor­tunities to advance in social justice, economic progress and conservation of the envi­ronment within the range of available resources and technology. A green economy is for everyone and developing countries can take a leading role through adopting innovative initiatives that generate economic, social and environmental benefits. We all have a joint re­sponsibility to progress to a different economic model. We must not miss this opportunity.

1. Achieving a green economy is not possible without ensuring everyone has access to basic water and sanitation services. Across the world, access to these services has proved to be a critical step for lifting people out of the vicious cycle of poverty and en­vironmental degradation.

2. Transitioning to a green economy in water requires a shift from current practice.

Some key tools to promote the necessary change and support the transition: (1) eco­nomic instruments; (2) green jobs; (3) cost recovery and financing; (4) investments in biodiversity; (5) technology; and (6) water planning. These tools enable us to overcome barriers, do more with less, to harness opportunities and to change behaviours in order to achieve a green economy.

3. Creating incentives for improving efficiency is appropriate where basic water and sanitation services are already being provided. Incentives can modify individuals? be­haviour in a predictable way in order to achieve desired policy goals, for example: re­ducing water consumption, reducing pollution loads, or adopting a modern irrigation technique. Using economic instruments has a number of advantages. They can (i) avoid costly investments and make the case for low-cost, non-technical measures (e.g. ecosystem services to secure water or protect against floods); (ii) generate revenues to fund water management and infrastructure; (iii) align incentives and strengthen pol­icy coherence across sectors; and (iv) provide information on the costs of status quo, the benefits of reform, and the distribution of these costs and benefits.

The messages

1. There is an important role for social dialogue and for communities in the provision of water services. Community initiatives are vital in places where government action does not reach. The pro-poor approach adopted by many governments and interna­tional organizations is paying off, with a greater focus on outcomes, social dialogue, so­cial contracts and community participation. Social dialogue is a power full means to improve effectiveness in service delivery for a socially inclusive development that pro­vides adequate incomes, social protection, respect for the rights of workers, and give workers a say in decisions which will affect their lives.

2. The transition to a green economy requires mobilising more funds, but also requires increasing efficiencies to make better use of the limited financial resources avail­able. Funds are required to drive sustainability and growth; invest in water and sani­tation services and infrastructures; alleviate global poverty; foster innovative green technologies; create new ?green? job opportunities; reduce scarcities; reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions; and increase efficiencies in the production and con­sumption of water and energy. Pro-poor tariffs systems are essential for ensuring the provision of water services to the poorest.

3. Investing in the improvement of biodiversity is critical for sustaining or restoring the water-related services provided by ecosystems. Healthy freshwater ecosystems pro­vide services that are crucial for human survival. The poor particularly often depend di­rectly on water and other ecosystem services provided by rivers, lakes and wetlands for their livelihoods. There are real opportunities for Payment for Ecosystem Serv­ices schemes, which are proving a successful instrument for financing environmental protection throughout Latin America, but also in Africa and Asia. They are instruments to improve nature by rewarding its conservation and guaranteeing the continuous pro­vision of the welfare benefits produced by ecosystems.

4. Governments need to facilitate innovation a and adoption of greener water provision and water use technologies, contributing to job creation and structural transforma­tion towards greener economies. Technologies help to close the increasing gap be­tween water supply and demand by increasing water availability or increasing the efficiency of water use. Most of the necessary water technologies for promoting the sustainable water management are already proved and ready for application on larger scales. However, barriers to adoption ?such as lack of access to finance, knowledge and patents? must be addressed. There are opportunities for developing countries to ?leapfrog? with information technology.

5. Water planning is a powerful social tool for identifying the best way to use water re­sources to meet the competing needs of different users. Green growth requires that social improvement and economic growth are made compatible with the conservation of ecosystems. Participatory planning is a key instrument for this proposing measures and infrastructures needed for economic and social growth, and the protection of long term ecosystem services. Participatory planning enables the consideration of trade offs and the alignment of these goals. It is essential to build governance and institu­tional capabilities to design and effectively implement long-term integrated water management plans in order to support the transition towards a green economy.

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