UNSGAB closing down Nov 2015 (UN Secretary­ General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation) - final report


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  • arno
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UNSGAB closing down Nov 2015 (UN Secretary­ General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation) - final report

Note by moderator (EvM): this post was originally in this thread: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/162-pu...day-19-november-2015

Hi Mughal
Please note that UNSGAB has been terminated by the UN. It had its final meeting at the end of November. www.gwopa.org/en/gwopa-news/unsgab-journey and see the attached memorandum released Nov 20, 2015 and the UNSGAB Journey Report with recommendations (also added below).

The following recommendations from the report tells me there is still so much more left to do at the UN in order to get the sanitation sector right:

Structural recommendations for a more effective global water architecture (page 15 of the UNSGAB final report)

There is currently a mismatch between the integrated and ambitious 2030 vision of freshwater and sanitation management and the international political structures available to contribute to its implementation.Member States will have to organize themselves better within the framework of the UN vis-à-vis the water theme. In order that the global water architecture is more fit for purpose, we suggest the following:

1. Establish a UN Intergovernmental Committee on Water and
Sanitation – Formed after appropriate consultation among UN
Member States and before the first thematic review of water by the
High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the
Committee enables countries to discuss all freshwater and sanitation
challenges regularly, to review progress towards water-related SDG
targets, to guide UN actions and to make further political decisions on
these matters. This Committee should work in close interaction with a
structured representation of major stakeholders.

2. Form a UN Scientific and Practice Panel on Water and Sanitation
Mandated to gather global evidence on major challenges, water uses,
their mutual impact, and water management, and to stimulate external
research to close knowledge gaps, this global independent panel of
scientists and practitioners regularly provides balanced, fact-based,
transparent and comprehensive information, enabling Member States
and the UN to make the right decisions on water and sanitation.

3. Strengthen UN-Water – As the coordinating structure of UN actions
on water and sanitation, UN-Water serves as the Secretariat and
support entity for both the UN Intergovernmental Committee on
Water and Sanitation (see Recommendation 1) and the UN Scientific
and Practice Panel on Water and Sanitation (see Recommendation 2).

4. Set up a comprehensive and independently reviewed global
monitoring framework – Governments support UN-Water efforts to
set up all the global monitoring mechanisms that are necessary to
review progress on the water-related SDG targets and ensure that these
mechanisms are independently reviewed on a regular basis.

5. Make sure there is an independent voice – Governments and the
UN system benefit from independent advice on water-related
challenges, through an appropriate mechanism to be set up by the UN
Secretary-General no later than 2017.

Arno Rosemarin PhD
Stockholm Environment Institute
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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Sanitation’s Impact on Human and Environmental Health

Dear Dr. Arno,

Thanks for correcting me. I was not aware of that. I could not even find that, when I accessed the site in the morning.

The 5 points, you mentioned, are interesting and informative. Perhaps, that explains why the targets and goals at UN level have not yet been translated into actions in poor developing countries.


F H Mughal
F H Mughal (Mr.)
Karachi, Pakistan
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: UNSGAB closing down Nov 2015 (UN Secretary​​­ General​​’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation) - final report

Dear Arno,

Thanks for bringing to our attention that UNSGAB (UN Secretary​​­ General​​’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation - see www.unsgab.org/ ) has now completed its journey and has been closed down in November. At first, it came as a bit of a shock to me, but reading through their closing ceremony note ( sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/do...ingceremony20Nov.pdf ) and their final report ( sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/do...sgab-journey-web.pdf ) it doese seem to make a lot of sense that they stop now - after 11 years of work.

The closing ceremony program explains:

Eleven years have passed since the inception of the UN Secretary­General’s Advisory Board
on Water and Sanitation (UNSGAB). As the Board’s mandate was related to the MDG period,
UNSGAB has reached the end of its journey. Therefore it is time to take stock of what was
accomplished, ponder how it was achieved, learn from successes and failures, and most
especially, voice the unfinished business.

This is why UNSGAB has written its first and indeed only report “The UNSGAB Journey”,
which will be officially shared with the international community during this Closing Ceremony.
Following the logic of the report, the Ceremony will not only look back on the Board’s legacy
but will also consider its final recommendations intended to add impetus to the work of all
actors eager to accelerate progress on the 2030 water agenda.

Reading through their final report "The UNSGAB Journey" has been very interesting for me - finally I have the feeling that I understand much better what UNSGAB was all about (during my time at GIZ from 2008 to 2012) I witnessed that there were quite strong ties between the SuSanA secretariat and the UNSGAB secretariat, partly due to the German government's involvement in funding the UNSGAB secretariat and partly due to Uschi Eid who used to be a German parliamentarian and then chair of UNSGAB since 2014 and always a strong supporter of sanitation issues and of SuSanA).

I found it useful to read the information on page 4 of their final report:

There were disadvantages to be sure: with no in-built mechanism for
renewal, we could never be suciently representative and the process of
enlisting new members with dierent skills was painstakingly slow. More
crucial, the Board in its 11-year life span operated without a UN budgetary
envelope, having to appeal repeatedly to generous and supportive
donors. And ultimately, getting water and UNSGAB on the priority list
of a busy Secretary-General proved a constant challenge.

In a bid to ensure maximum eciency and impact, at the outset we
decided that we would not write reports on the existing water situation,
nor would we implement projects; other groups were already doing this.
Rather, we would use Board Members themselves as the major change
agents, and we would work by pinpointing the changes needed on the part
of stakeholders in the water sector. All Board Members worked without
payment, our employers allowing us to contribute our time.

If you're interested in how these UN mechanisms and advocacy at the highest political level work, then this final report is well worth a read.

To those who know UNSGAB's work better than I do, I have some questions:
  1. Are you sad that UNSGAB has come to an end?
  2. Do you think UNSGAB was successful and if yes in which sense?
  3. Would you have expected UNSGAB to carry on beyond 2015?
  4. Is there some sort of follow-on mechanism to UNSGAB and if not, should there be one? How should it look?
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Ulm, Germany
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Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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