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Stakeholder roles

Weak accountability, on the part of both citizens and governments, is a significant cause of the unsustainable use of freshwater resources (WLVC 2003). At international level the responsibility for freshwater issues is spread among many agencies in the United Nations system (FAO, IAEA, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, WHO, WMO, World Bank, and others). Although many agencies have a role in one or more facets of freshwater management, there is often no central entity providing overall guidance. This pattern of institutional fragmentation is not unusual – it can be seen at virtually all government and agency levels, whether international, national or local, and also between ministries with overlapping responsibilities.

Water governance refers to the range of political, social, economic and administrative systems in place to develop and manage water resources and deliver water services, at different levels (Rogers and Hall 2003).Transparency in the decision-making process is essential, particularly to engender trust among freshwater stakeholders. Without it, public confidence in government policies and programmes can be completely undermined, especially at the local level. Effective training of local and national governmental and nongovernmental staff, particularly in building coalitions, managing projects and increasing monitoring and evaluation skills, are also essential elements of practical programmes and activities directed to sustainable freshwater resources.

Box 14: Principles for implementing the World Lake Vision
a harmonious relationship between humans and nature is essential for sustainable use;
the drainage basin (or aquifer) is the logical starting point for planning and management actions for sustainable use;
a long-term approach directed to preventing the causes of freshwater degradation is essential;
policy development and decision-making for freshwater management should be based on sound science and the best available information;
the management of freshwater for sustainable use requires the resolution of conflicts among competing users, taking into account the needs of present and future generations and of nature;
citizens and other stakeholders should be encouraged to participate meaningfully in identifying and resolving critical water problems; and
good governance, based on fairness, transparency and empowerment of all stakeholders, is essential for sustainable water use.
Source: Adapted from WLVC 2003 

Finally, for their part, citizens need to assume a more vigilant role in holding governments and agencies accountable for addressing the fundamental linkages between socio-economic development and sustainable freshwater resources. The principles developed by the World Lake Vision Committee in 2003 certainly also apply to the implementation of freshwater programmes (Box 14).

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