Expert Group Meeting on National Institutional Reforms for the Implementation of IWRM in the ESCWA Region

Oman, 18-20 March 2007


Information Note English


Guidelines on Reform for IWRM
Arabic | English

Study on Lebanon

There has been a significant and profound interest in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) concepts in ESCWA countries over the last decade. This is evident by the formulation of national water strategies and action plans and the enactment of numerous regulations in support of IWRM policies and directives. However, in most countries a significant gap remains with respect to the ability of present institutional frameworks to effectively implement IWRM. This is fundamentally because the existing water resources management culture and its associated institutional arrangements, legislation and instruments - which take a sector-based approach - are inadequate to achieve integrated and participatory IWRM that is multi-sectoral oriented by its very nature. Governance systems for IWRM thus require integrated approaches to social, economic and environmental policy planning, natural resource preservation, as well as appropriate modalities for public participation. These proposed reforms should be culturally and politically sensitive to the specificities of countries of the region.

New institutional settings and reforms should be carried out for the successful implementation of the IWRM plans. These reforms include: re-structuring the role of water institutions, decentralization and providing more water management authority to water users, stimulate co-ordination among water sector stakeholders through joint activities and shared investments, co-ordination of financial resources on the de-central and central levels, enhancing the role of Water User Associations, Water Boards, NGOs, Civil Society, etc. In order to ensure the effectiveness and viability of IWRM plans in the ESCWA region, there is an urgent need for policy-makers to mobilize all water stakeholders to adopt a common and realistic vision on how reforms are to be implemented, including a clear description of roles and functions of the organizations involved in the implementation process, time schedule, level of responsibilities and relation to other stakeholders, communication channels and investment and monitoring plans.

This also requires establishment of effective and appropriate coordination mechanisms among different agencies and the development of financial structures that enable these agencies to perform their tasks effectively and in a sustainable manner. At the operational level, the stakeholders should also be responsible for the monitoring, progress reporting and evaluation of the implementation of the various measures and actions and to provide feedback on the impacts of the implementation of specific activities on water resources to a leading agency. This process calls for the establishment of a reformed institutional structure, that involves decision makers, at the highest political level, from ministries, agencies, local administrations in addition to representatives from civil society, NGOs, private sector, and other actors concerned with management of water resources. The nature, structure and organization of reformed institutions should allow for involvement of all sectors at all levels to guarantee a nation-wide consultation, to promote bottom-up approach in planning and implementation of IWRM combined with the more common top-down approach, and to enhance the ‘ownership’ feeling by citizens and end users towards water resources development activities. The reformed institutional structure should be able to warrant the political support and commitment and provide the enabling environment needed to implement multi-sectoral water policies and strategies in the ESCWA Member States.

In addition, water laws and legislative instruments are essential and powerful tools for formulation and implementation of IWRM plans. The legislation and regulation systems (e.g. laws, by-laws, rules, decrees, agreements, etc.) should deal with all water uses, monitoring of water quantity and quality, water allocation for various functions and sectors, water rights, etc.). In many countries in the ESCWA region, water-related laws are insufficient, ineffective and/or outdated. There is a need to create modern water legislative instruments to support the implementation of IWRM plans, capable of addressing complex and challenging issues such as water charging and cost recovery, participatory approaches in water management and decentralization processes, empowerment of local authorities to engage in multi-stakeholders dialogue, conflict resolution and consensus building among all interested parties, and ensure effective enforcement and compliance with water legislation and the proper functioning of water institutions.

Within its on-going initiative to strengthen the capacity of member states in developing and implementing IWRM plans, ESCWA and its partner organizations have focused during the 2006 – 2007 programmed activities on issues, policies, tools and mechanisms for undertaking institutional and legal reforms within the national IWRM planning process. In this context, ESCWA prepared a study on “Guidelines for Legislative and Institutional Reforms Needed for the Implementation of IWRM at National Level in ESCWA Region” (forthcoming). The guidelines are based on a regional overview of existing institutional and legislative set-ups governing the management of the water sector in ESCWA member countries, with in-depth case studies of selected countries that have initiated institutional and legal reforms to learn from their experiences and understand what has or hasn’t been implemented and why. The guidelines also propose the most feasible and realistic institutional arrangements and legislative reforms needed to achieve the implementation of IWRM in the ESCWA region, taking into account the socio-economic, cultural, political, and environmental specificities of the region.

The case studies in the report, along with other experiences of IWRM-related institutional and legal reforms from within and outside the ESCWA region as well as the recommended guidelines will provide the basis for discussions and in-depth reviews by leading international and regional experts in institutional and legal reforms for IWRM, through a proposed Expert Group Meeting due to be held in Muscat from 18 to 20 March 2007, as detailed below.


The aim of the meeting is to review the above mentioned ESCWA report and related resource material on legal and institutional instruments for IWRM, propose revisions and updates on the recommended scenarios, or propose additional ones, prioritize actions to be taken and means for implementation of plans and enforcement of legislation. The meeting also aims to address mechanisms for activating inter-ministerial, inter-sectoral and multi-stakeholder coordination within a participatory approach framework; and link the proposed changes with a capacity building strategy for IWRM that involves training, information sharing, benchmarking and monitoring and evaluation of the capacity building delivered.

The EGM will involve selected key presentations, with extensive discussions and debates and working group sessions, which revolve around the following themes:

1. Status of IWRM plans in the ESCWA region, and prospects for meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) and improving water governance (brief review).

2. Status of institutional set-up: roles, responsibilities, functions and capacity of current and newly-established water-related institutions, existing coordination practices and management “culture”.

3. Status of legal and regulatory instruments: challenges, constraints and gaps that hinder the implementation of IWRM plans in the region and assessment of opportunities for strengthening legislative, regulatory and enforcement capacities.

4. Stakeholders’ analysis and mode of cooperation among them: integrated policies, data sharing and exchange, shared investments, central vs. de-centralized responsibilities, current communication and consultation channels, etc.).

5. Capacity for coordination and cooperation to achieve the “Integrated” in the IWRM process and opportunities for improved coordination

6. Guidelines (and scenarios) on the required institutional and legislative arrangements to support the implementation, compliance and enforcement of IWRM policies within given socio-political and economic specific contexts: prioritising action, political commitment and enabling environment, resource mobilization (internal/ cost recovery, international) and investment plans and opportunities,

7. Capacity building needs for IWRM (how to assess needs, plan and design relevant and demand-driven capacity building programs, monitor and evaluate progress and achievements towards IWRM process?)

Expected outcomes
A set of recommendations will be elaborated for revising and updating the guidelines that include proposals for developing action plans for their future adaptation at national and basin levels within specific ESCWA countries upon request and the optimal approaches for ensuring that end-users make best use of these guidelines.

The Water and Environment Team of the Sustainable Development and Productivity Division at ESCWA, in collaboration with the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ), the Ministry of Regional Municipalities, Environment & Water Resources in Oman are organizing this Expert Group Meeting (18-20 March, Muscat) with the support of the Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med) and the United Nations Environment Programme Regional Office for West Asia (UNEP – ROWA). This meeting comes within the context of Oman Water Week 18-22 March and it targets experts on the legislative and the institutional dimensions of water sector in the ESCWA region and other regions of the world, in addition to selected socio-economic experts working in areas of water economics, stakeholders’ participation and gender mainstreaming in IWRM.
The official language of the meeting is English with simultaneous translation to Arabic.

The meeting will be held from 18-20 March 2007, in Muscat, Oman. The venue will be Holiday Inn located near the diplomatic area at 14 km from airport (the complete address is below).

The host ministry has made block reservation for participants in this meeting at the Holiday Inn Hotel, therefore your early confirmation for participation is highly appreciated. Participants sponsored by the organizers will be provided with information on hotel reservation, travel details, and airport pick-up will be available. Participants coming at their own cost have to inform the organizers of the time of arrival in order to provide them with airport pick-up.

For those participants who would need entry visa to Oman, kindly indicate if you need assistance for the issuance of visa.

Muscat Holiday
Formerly Muscat Holiday Inn
P.O.Box 1185 SEEB MUSCAT, 111Oman
Telephone at front desk: 968-24487123, 99033473 (Mobile)


All correspondence should be sent to:

Ms. Anhar Hegazi, Director
Sustainable Development and Productivity Division
P.O. Box 11-8575
Riad El-Solh Square
Beirut, Lebanon
Tel: 961-1-981301
Fax: 961- 1- 981510

cc: Mr. Hosny Khordagui (Leader of Water & Environment Team)
and/or Roula Majdalani
Beirut, Lebanon
P.O. Box: 11-8575
Tel: 961-1-981301
Fax: 961- 1- 981510


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