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Global study puts accountability mechanisms under a magnifying glass - also in the Netherlands.

The recently released Global Review of National Accountability Mechanisms for SDG6 looks at national accountability mechanisms for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) in 25 countries. Read more about the global report here.

Pinning down accountability mechanisms: In the SDG 6 context, accountability refers to the responsibility of relevant groups - such as governments, private sector, civil society or academia - for their commitments and actions around water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) progress. Mechanisms or platforms should be transparent, engage multiple voices and facilitate critical reflection. For a more thorough definition go to page 16 of the global report.

Calling for responsibility for SDG 6 in the Netherlands

WHY is the Netherlands one of the 25 participating countries?
The Netherlands is a country that owes its existence to a forward-looking and well maintained relationship with water.

Even though safe water is generally available to everyone in the country and water quality is high, future risks such as climate change or contamination apply. Also the role of the Netherlands in SDG6 progress abroad is not to be discounted, since water management is one of the four priorities of Dutch development cooperation policy.

Understanding how accountability is organised in the Netherlands provides a valuable basis for a case study: to show what works and see what needs improvement.

HOW and with WHOM was the study conducted in the country?
Through consulting reports and databases and involving civil society organisations, private sector companies, government and academia in surveys, interviews and a focus groups discussion.

In the Netherlands, the focus of participants varied between national and international WASH progress. This was at the same time the largest challenge and opportunity of the study. A challenge because targets and the language of SDG 6 - although common in conversations around international cooperation - are not used in discussions around national water sector progress in the country. And an opportunity because it initiated conversation around whether it should be.

WHAT are the main findings?
An important finding in the national context is that there is low awareness of SDG 6 mechanisms amongst CSOs and private sector organisations. Environmental organisations with a focus on water would for instance, seem logical to participate in SDG 6 conversations in the national context, but the study suggests otherwise. When participation is facilitated, mechanisms around SDG6 are seen as having little added value above existing - and well-organised - water sector processes.

So one of the most important questions to reflect on is:

Which CSOs to involve for participation in accountability mechanisms for national SDG 6 targets?

Whether involving CSOs in SDG 6 accountability mechanisms for national progress needs to happen should of course be based on thorough assessment. Being transparent about what exists and inviting organisations to participate would be a good start. These questions are both for Government and for CSOs to address.

Both in the national and international context:

  • CSOs need to take responsibility for their role in achieving SDG 6: by being proactive, by participating in existing accountability mechanisms, holding the Government accountable and sharing information on progress with the public.

However,

  • transparent communications from Government are needed to trigger involvement of CSOs that currently do not participate in existing mechanisms because of lack of capacity or knowledge on SDG 6.

Additional findings and recommendations concerning both accountability mechanisms for SDG 6 progress in the national context and international cooperation are described in a five-page briefing report of the study in the Netherlands. Read it here.

What are your thoughts? Do you think talking about national WASH progress within SDG 6 targets has added value in the Netherlands?

To find out more about the global study, download the full report in English.

Download the summary of the global study (six-pager) in English, French and Spanish.

The study in the Netherlands was conducted by Watershed partners, IRC (consultant: Sára Bori) and Simavi (supervisor: Erma Uytewaal). We hereby would like to thank all study participants for adding their knowledge, experience and time to the research, helping us create an overview of accountability mechanisms for SDG 6 in the Netherlands.

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