The Sanitation and Water for All steering committees meeting took place on the 4th - 7th of December 2017 in Maputo, Mozambique. The elected steering CSO representatives who participated and voted on key decisions were; Thilo Panzerbieter representing the northen CSOs, Samson Shivaji representing the African CSOs, Zobair Hasan, representing Asian CSOs, Fatema Akthar representing community based organizations and Vanessa Dubois representing Latin American CSOs.
Key areas discussed during the meeting were; Governance, Accountability mechanisms, support at Country level and Private Sector Engagement.
The Steering Committee set up a Governance and Finance working group and, with the endorsement of the Steering Committee, this group initiated a governance review. The Committee also took major decisions leading to the creation of the position of Chief Executive Officer who will be responsible for the work of the Secretariat. Consequently, the Secretariat will no longer be placed within the WASH Section at UNICEF but be an independent entity within UNICEF.
Some of the decisions made during the discussions around Governance was that the Governance and Finance Working Group needs to take the 55 recommendations of the consultants into consideration when drafting a revised Governance Document and that they should be guided by the pre-decisions/ consensus reached during the SWA SC retreat on 6 December 2017 (e.g. on issues concerning including UNICEF and World Bank as ex officio SC members, discontinuing the role of high-level Chair, having one funder representative within the group of SC members representing External Support Agencies).
Support at Country level
The Partnership continues to strengthen its commitment to putting countries at the center of SWA’s work. In 2017, the Country Processes Working Group undertook case studies to broaden understanding of how SWA can best enable and strengthen national sector processes. The results of these case studies will influence decisions on how partners can maximize their collective efforts at country and global level. In addition, other parts of the Partnership, including the Secretariat and the SWA Leadership group, will align their support towards enhancing stronger partner collaboration at country level.
In 2017, the Secretariat engaged with SWA partners at country level through bilateral calls and webinars, and, where necessary, linked partners with support available from outside their countries. For example, the Secretariat facilitated support on the use of the SDG costing tool in more than 20 countries prior to, and after the HLM. The Secretariat is strengthening its support towards peer-to-peer learning for partners. The SWA Chair had bilateral meetings with Ministers from Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria as a follow-up to their countries’ participation at the HLM.
All members of the steering committee agreed that there should be a general shift in the partnership to support further at the national level. This means using the SWA framework to generate multi-stakeholder discussions at the national level on the SDGs and sector strengthening and using the national discussions to report back on progress and bottlenecks at the regional and international level. Some members of the Steering Committee referred to a federation of multi-stakeholder processes at the national level.
SWA would not replace national processes, but help mobilizing further its partners at national level to engage around the collaborative behaviors and building blocks. It would use its influence to put pressure for progress and look at gaps and bottlenecks. For this it was decided that SWA should hire regional advisors that could support better countries and link further with already existing regional processes such as AMCOW, SACOSAN, LATINOSAN etc.
It was agreed that to do this the partnership should roll out its accountability mechanism, develop a knowledge sharing strategy and county support communication strategy, and finally develop a partners mapping exercise so as to better mobilize its partners at the national level. SWA should build the capacities of its government national focal points and CSO focal points at the national level so that they can steer further discussions around sector strengthening.
The partnership also has an important role to play on sharing experiences on how to reach the SDG and Sector Strengthening, it was decided that a strategy for sharing knowledge and improving the communication provided on the SWA framework should be provided.
Over the past two years, the partnership has not implemented a formal accountability mechanism in the style of the previous system of commitments made at every High-level Meetings. Rather, the partnership sought to redesign the accountability mechanism to better address the demands of the SDGs and the new global architecture. In 2017, the Steering Committee agreed an accountability mechanism which will involve partners at country level using their ongoing country processes to agree on targets and commitments and utilize regional and global events to strengthen learning.
The Steering Committee decided to reiterate its commitment to accelerate progress at country level with the intention of evolving into a federation of national SDG (6.1, 6.2, 6a and 6b) platforms/ processes, supported by and linking to regional and global (HLM/HLPF) processes and platforms; The SC also decided also that commitments reported at regional or national forums should be drawn from those made at the national level, encourageed SWA and its partners to support but not duplicate national and regional processes and platforms, tasked the High Level Political Working Group to work together with the Country Process Working Group on the roll-out plan for the Accountability Mechanism by February 2018 and to share it with the SC. This plan should be based on the Accountability Mechanism approved in September 2017, and the discussions held during the Maputo SC meeting and called on the Executive Chair to launch and coordinate this process.
Private sector engagement
The Steering Committee thanks the Private Sector Working Group for its report and approved its Workplan for 2018, while acknowledging their decision to as per the request of a previous SC, incorporate references to the UN guiding principles on business and human rights, and the human rights to water and sanitation.