On 8. November 2017, SWP organized a follow-up event on “SDG Water – Sharing Experiences around Monitoring at Country Level”.
The event aimed at providing space for the SWP members to share experiences on the monitoring of water-related SDG targets, identifying potential synergies among the members that could be created to more effectively contribute to SDG implementation, and formulating preliminary recommendations to be shared at the upcoming Global workshop for integrated monitoring of SDG 6.
Reflections on the Science-Policy Interface
The relevance of the science – policy interface in improving the effectiveness of monitoring and implementation of water-related SDG targets was addressed during the event (e.g. application of new research products, emergence of new research questions, opportunities used to interact between researchers and policy makers).
Even though we have a sound knowledge of what the issues are, key challenges remain regarding the implementation of the Agenda 2030 such as accelerating and scaling up changes, bridging universality and contextual reality, ensuring interlinkages among the different SDGs, and achieving equity and social justice. Tapping the potential of open sources and big data as a way to support government and civil society decisions and actions as well as engaging with ‘brokers’ could contribute to scaling up. Moreover, working through global alliances or using storytelling could be some of the ways to link local specificities with global development. Analyzing the goals’ intersections and promoting a systemic approach is expected to contribute to breaking silos and achieve greater policy coherence throughout the SDG Agenda. Finally, streamlining indicators reflecting human rights into policy is a key element to achieve equity.
From a science perspective, it is crucial to understand the needs of policy-makers and civil society. Key ingredients to strengthen the science-policy interface are among others to move from disciplinary to inter/transdisciplinary research (co-production of knowledge), and to find the right windows of opportunities to feed into policy (evidence-informed dialogue).
During the event, the following key issues and recommendations were identified:
How to go from data to policy? Different tools exist to gather, collate and visualise data. However, this is just a first step in developing policies, taking decisions and initiating actions. Identifying how data should be shaped (format, standard) to best inform policies would be a useful step. Additionally, validating data (e.g. through triangulation) could be a useful contribution of science. The use of open data sources could help validate data from national statistics for example. Finally, a data governance framework (data sharing principles) would help reduce the ‘scaredness to share’ data.
How to strengthen the sustainability dimension of SDG indicators? Building a strong consensus on what sustainability means was proposed as a key element to strengthen the sustainability dimension in the reflections on the monitoring of water-related SDG targets. Moreover, the use of water footprint or similar instruments in view of enhancing water efficiency was highlighted. And, in particular, the importance to have a clear framework to engage the private sector, among others linking with water stewardship standards.
How to foster an integrated consideration of the SDGs? This is a key topic on which SWP members would be interested to continue to work together, for instance within the framework of a SWP discussion group. The Netherlands’ experience in monitoring water-related SDG targets is a good illustration of this integration.
How to unbundle SDG monitoring and implementation at the local level? Strengthening capacity of the local actors in particular the local governments is crucial. This also has the potential to foster integration across all water-related SDG targets.
Finally, it was recommended to strengthen synergies among SWP members to more effectively support SDG 6 implementation. The creation of a discussion group on the monitoring and implementation of water-related SDG targets will support the continuation of the reflections, among others on a more integrated consideration of those targets.