Enhance the Integrity of Your WSI

These guidelines respond to the integrity challenges facing water stewardship initiatives (WSIs). Access quality management processes and a suite of practical tools via the questions and practical framework below in order to ensure high levels of integrity and transparency in your WSI.     DOWNLOAD PDF VERSION


Guidelines were developed in partnership with:


Integrity Basics

WSIs are coordinated engagements among interested parties and businesses to address specific shared water challenges; they typically involve structured collective action, joint decision making and implementation.

As basin-level problems increasingly affect all segments of society, water stewardship initiatives (WSIs) hold exciting potential as an approach to tackling shared water challenges. These WSIs leverage the expertise of businesses working collectively with public institutions, civil society organizations, and other water users at the basin level. As with any new approach, WSIs provide opportunities but can also pose some design and implementation challenges, particularly around ensuring integrity. For example, involving the private sector in the management of a public resource like water must be approached with care to avoid real or perceived problems of “capture”: where undue influence on decision making, skewing of public policy priorities, or privileged access to water resources results through private sector involvement.
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Understanding and properly managing integrity risks is essential to ensure the long-term effectiveness and impact of WSIs in addressing shared water challenges. WSIs with integrity ideally have:
  • Clear objectives and demonstrable outcomes that advance sustainable water management
  • Trustworthy, credible, and accountable participants
  • Inclusive, transparent, and responsive processes and governance that lead to informed and balanced decision-making
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Fieldwork undertaken for this project has identified the range of integrity risks facing WSIs through analysis of 18 historical, ongoing, and emerging WSIs and 50 interviews with diverse stakeholders involved in them. The WSI integrity risk areas used in this guidance are attributed to the initiative’s outcomes (blue), the individual participants of WSIs (purple), and the processes and governance of the initiative (green).

Integrity Risk Areas Related to the Outcomes of a WSI
From an integrity management perspective, it is important to ensure that the objective(s) or intent of a WSI focuses on advancing sustainable water management rather than pursuing vested interests at the cost of public interest and resources. Many integrity risks are related to capture (of public finances, regulatory action, policy making, and access to water). Additional integrity risks can arise unintentionally via perverse outcomes where the WSI creates negative impacts for the environment, people, or institutions.

Integrity Risk Areas Related to Participants Participants inform and influence WSIs and their environment by defining objectives and activities, making decisions, and executing activities. Integrity risks related to participants include: the track record; representation; intent and incentives; capability; conduct; and long-term engagement.

Integrity Risk Areas Related to Process
In the absence of robust, well-designed, and transparent processes for planning, decision making, stakeholder participation, whistle blowing, financial management, and monitoring, WSIs are vulnerable to corrupt behaviors, capture, and manipulation toward vested interests.

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Analyzing and addressing risks allows WSI participants to establish the most important integrity risks that undermine the WSI’s contribution to sustainable water management and provides the basis for systematically managing and mitigating integrity risks. Doing so also raises awareness of critical aspects and weaknesses that undermine the impact of the WSI and helps gauge when a WSI may be misused to divert public resources and priorities or for undue influence over the water sector. Tool 1 offers further insight into how you can analysis and address key integrity risks facing your WSI.

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Implement the Integrity Management Framework

Implementing the framework will help enhance your WSI’s impact and advance sustainable water management.
The framework includes seven principles across the four phases of every WSI.

  • Click on principles to find out what they entail as well as guiding questions to help you implement the principles.
  • Click on each featured activity to understand what kind of actions you can take to ensure high levels of integrity
    and how to implement that activity.
  • Click on relevant phases of the lifecycle to find what activities should take place during that phase.
Figure 1: Integrity Framework Principles - Incubation and Initial Analysis Principles - Formalization Principles - Implementation Principles - Completion, Renewal, or Upscaling Outcomes Outcomes - Undertake a participatory context analysis Outcomes - Assess Capture Risks and Establish Monitoring Outcomes - Assess Capture Risks and Embed Outcomes People People - Identify and Map Interests Affected by the WSI People - Analyze WSI participant Records and Incentives People - Determine Affected Stakeholder Representation in WSI People - Assign Appropriate Roles and Responsibilities People - Clarify Expectations of WSI Behavior People - Monitor Representation and Participation People - Engage Affected stakeholders Process Process - Undertake a Participatory Context Analysis Process - Define Scope, Objective and Public Interest of the WSI Process - Establish Equitable Decision-Making Structures, Communication, and Finance; Determine Corporate Form Process - Establish an Exit Strategy Process - Establish M&E Process - Regularly Question and Verify Theory of change Process - Monitor WSI Participation Adherence to Governance procedures Process - Communicate about WSI Performance Process - Participatory Final Evaluation and Audit Process - Embed activities and outcomes into existing institutions

Incubation and Initial Analysis

The incubation and initial analysis stage has a number of characteristics, activities, and functions:

  • Includes the core group of WSI initiators at the beginning and expanding outward
  • Results in understanding local water challenges, possible interventions, and potential participants.
  • Includes trying to understand whether WSIs are the best option to address local water challenges.
  • Includes stakeholder and context analysis.

To learn more about what the stage entails and to access guiding questions for the stage click here:
Applying Principles in Practice

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Formalization

The formalization stage has a number of characteristics, activities, and functions:

  • Begins formalization of the WSI based upon shared participant understanding
  • Defines the key aspects of the WSI
  • Includes developing internal structures of the WSI to ensure longterm sustainability and impact.

To learn more about what the stage entails and to access guiding questions for the stage click here:
Applying Principles in Practice

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Implementation

The implementation stage includes the following activities:

  • Focuses on activity implementation, ongoing monitoring and evaluation, and learning.

To learn more about what the stage entails and to access guiding questions for the stage click here:
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Completion, Renewal, or Upscaling

The completion, renewal, or upscaling stage includes the following activities:

  • Focuses on understanding whether the project should continue, be modified, or can close as it has met its objectives.

To learn more about what the stage entails and to access guiding questions for the stage click here:
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Outcomes

Principle 1: Seek to align with, support, and strengthen public policy that advances sustainable water management; be careful not to undermine public institutions or water governance.

Learn more about what the principle entails as well as key guiding questions by clicking here:
Principles Related to Outcomes

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Outcomes - Undertake a participatory context analysis

Undertake a participatory context analysis for the WSI to understand ongoing public sector–led efforts and policy objectives related to sustainable water management, and evaluate the implications for the WSI.

How? Utilize Tool 5: Assessing the Context of a WSI The tool provides practitioners with a structured approach to assessing the wider environment of the WSI and understanding the root causes of the water-related challenges it aims to tackle. The tool lays out in a stepwise approach to undertaking such a process, including how to incorporate stakeholder perspectives, key questions to ask, and overall tips.

Learn more by clicking here:
Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 1

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Outcomes - Assess Capture Risks and Establish Monitoring

Assess the likelihood of policy capture and establish adequate safeguards to reduce capture risks.

How? Utilize Tool 1c: Red Flags to Assess and Monitor Capture Risks to effectively implement a process for assessing capture risks. The undue influence or "capture" of public policy, public funds or regulatory processes, or of the water resource itself are perhaps the most significant integrity hazards facing WSIs. Identifying these hazards and marking out with "red flags" where and how capture might happen is a first step toward mitigating capture risks.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 2

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Outcomes - Assess Capture Risks and Embed Outcomes

Establish a process to monitor and evaluate capture risks during the completion and/or transformation of the initiative.

How? Identifying these hazards and marking with red flags where and how capture might happen is a first step toward mitigating capture risks. Utilize Tool 1c: Red Flags to Assess and Monitor Capture Risks to effectively implement a process for assessing capture risks.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 4

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People

Principle 2: Ensure appropriate and balanced representation of interests throughout the course of the WSI

Principle 3: Be clear and transparent about the roles and responsibilities of WSI participants, and ensure that their capabilities are adequate (or are sufficiently developed) to fulfill them

Principle 7: Foster an ethos of trust, and establish expectations for behavior of WSI participants

Learn more about what the principle entails as well as key guiding questions by clicking here:
Principles Related to People

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Identify and Map Interests Affected by the WSI

Identify and map stakeholders affected by the WSI (or their legitimate proxies), as well as those with a significant ability to influence WSI outcomes.

How? Utilize Tool 3: Maping a WSI's Key Stakeholder to identify affected and influential stakeholders, in order to take into account their legitimate interests and knowledge.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 1

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Analyze WSI participant Records and Incentives

Undertake an initial analysis of WSI participants' track records, incentives, and intentions.

How? Utilize Tool 4: WSI Participants Due Diligence Investigation To understand these issues, an initial due diligence process should be conducted. It involves the systematic collection and analysis of information on how a particular organization is managed or how a company does business.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 1

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Determine Affected Stakeholder Representation in WSI

Determine whether and how affected stakeholders (or their proxies) can be appropriately represented in the WSI.

How? Utilize Tool 6: Support Materials for a Participatory Planning Process for insights. Stakeholder engagement provides insights into the needs and wants of stakeholders who either have the power to influence the implementation of the WSI or are affected by it. A participatory planning process builds legitimacy and credibility for the WSI by ensuring that a range of voices are heard. Such a process brings new ideas and directions that will require the WSI to be flexible and adjust initial ideas, objectives, and intervention strategies. WSIs are iterative learning processes that require dedicated attention to improve participation through subsequent stages of its life-cycle.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 2

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Assign Appropriate Roles and Responsibilities

Complete analysis of WSI participants’ track records, incentives, and intentions, as well as their respective capabilities and constraints.

Assign among WSI participants suitable roles and responsibilities for all activities, coordination tasks, processes, and procedures.

How? The investigation reveals whether a potential WSI participant commits to professional and ethical business practices, and uncovers risks and opportunities involved for the potential initiative. It also reveals conflicts of interests and participants’ intentions. Utilize Tool 4: WSI Participants Due Diligence Investigation to carry this out. For participants that also act as funders, also use Tool 8: Financing and Audit Protocols to mitigate risks of capture, misleading expectations, or bad perceptions.

Once complete Utilize Tool 9: Managing Roles and Responsibilities within a WSI to effectively assign and manage roles. Well-defined roles and responsibilities among WSI participants that build on their core competencies or are aligned with their main interests are critical to project success.

To ensure that the roles and responsibilities are effectively carried out, oversight mechanisms may be needed. Oversight mechanisms should be specified in the written agreements that govern a WSI to ensure transparency and to establish a reference point to hold WSI participants accountable if needed. Use Tool 10: Establishing Written Agreements for a WSI. To understand how to establish oversight mechanisms that go beyond internal measures, refer to Tool 11: Options for Independent Oversight.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 2

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Clarify Expectations of WSI Behavior

Clarify expectations of behavior to guide participants’ engagement in the WSI.

How? Utilize Tool 9: Managing Roles and Responsibilities within a WSI to effectively assign and manage roles. Well-defined roles and responsibilities among WSI participants that build on their core competencies or are aligned with their main interests are critical to project success.

To ensure that the roles and responsibilities are effectively carried out, oversight mechanisms may be needed. Oversight mechanisms should be specified in the written agreements that govern a WSI to ensure transparency and to establish a reference point to hold WSI participants accountable if needed. Use Tool 10: Establishing Written Agreements for a WSI. To understand how to establish oversight mechanisms that go beyond internal measures, refer to Tool 11: Options for Independent Oversight.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 2

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Monitor Representation and Participation

Monitor WSI participant representation and engagement of affected stakeholders over the course of the WSI, and take action to balance interests where needed.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 3

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Engage Affected stakeholders

Engage affected stakeholders in the decision-making process for renewing, upscaling, or completing the WSI.

How? Several relevant guidance documents are provided in Tool 6: Support Materials for a Participatory Planning Process. The outcomes of a final (ideally independent) evaluation should be used to inform the decision making concerning renewal or completion of the WSI.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 4

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Process

Principle 4: Be clear and transparent about the water challenge(s) being addressed by the WSI, as well as the agreed scope and intended benefits.

Principle 5: Be clear and transparent about how the WSI is to be governed.

Principle 6: Track outcomes against the stated objectives of the WSI

Learn more about what the principle entails as well as key guiding questions by clicking here:
Principles Related to Process

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Process - Undertake a Participatory Context Analysis

Undertake a participatory context analysis for the WSI to understand ongoing public sector–led efforts and policy objectives related to sustainable water management, and evaluate the implications for the WSI.

How? Utilize Tool 5: Assessing the Context of a WSI. The tool provides practitioners with a structured approach to assessing the wider environment of the WSI and understanding the root causes of the water-related challenges it aims to tackle. The tool lays out in a stepwise approach to undertaking such a process, including how to incorporate stakeholder perspectives, key questions to ask, and overall tips.

Learn more by clicking here:
Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 1

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Process - Define Scope, Objective and Public Interest of the WSI

Define among WSI participants the scope, objectives, and public interest benefits of the WSI, as well as the benefits of the WSI for respective participants.

How? Utilize Tool 6: Support Materials for a Participatory Planning Process and Tool 7: Basics for WSI Monitoring and Evaluation to help participants determine how to best hold these discussions. These tools offer pointers on key elements to discuss and how to effectively communicate with stakeholders.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 2

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Process - Establish Equitable Decision-Making Structures, Communication, and Finance; Determine Corporate Form

Jointly identify and establish equitable decision-making structures and processes within the WSI, ensure that effective communications occur among WSI participants and with affected stakeholders, and clarify how financial issues will be handled.

Explore organizational forms that align with the purpose and nature of the WSI.

How? The purpose of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) within a WSI is to formally agree on the shared objectives, roles, and ground rules of an initiative, and includes defined decision-making structures. Even where an MoU is not legally binding, it represents an important mutual commitment, should be signed at the senior level within each partner organization, and should have regular performance reviews. See Tool 10a: Developing a WSI Memorandum of Understanding. In addition, financing and auditing protocols for WSIs may also help participants comply with moral or legal duties related to funding arrangements. For relevant guidance, also see Tool 8: WSI Financing and Audit Protocols.

To determine options for a corporate form please see Tool 10: Establishing Written Agreements for a WSI.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 2

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Process - Establish an Exit Strategy

Establish an exit strategy for the WSI.

How? Utilize Tool 12: Developing an exit strategy for additional guidance. The "exit strategy" is the plan that clarifies how the WSI will end or transform (e.g., once goals have been achieved; at the end of the project or funding cycle) or that makes provision for the withdrawal of participant organizations. Fostering sustainability and mitigating risks of failure lie at the heart of this strategy. It needs to be designed jointly from the onset and revisited regularly as the initiative evolves.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 2

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Process - Establish M&E

Establish an M&E mechanism that enables WSI participants to understand both expected and unexpected outcomes, and determine whether the WSI is meeting its stated objectives.

How? Monitoring is a periodic and structured activity where priority information about the WSI is collected to assess performance against the defined objectives. Evaluation involves analyses of the WSI’s activities, characteristics, and outcomes to determine the merit of the initiative and to generate lessons for the future. Tool 7: Basics for WSI Monitoring and Evaluation provides an overview of the importance of developing M&E jointly with WSI participants.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 2

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Process - Regularly Question and Verify Theory of change

Regularly question and verify the WSI’s theory of change and adapt/improve to ensure that it is aligned with stated WSI objectives and contributes to sustainable water management more generally.

How? Tool 2: WSI Model - A Template to Describe the Logic of WSIs provides a template to capture in a nutshell how a WSI will operate and generate shared benefits. It provides the basis for developing a strategy to improve the impact and integrity of the WSI. The WSI model provides a structure through which WSI participants can clearly and transparently discuss key aspects of the WSI so they can understand whether the WSI is meetings its theory of change.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 3

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Process - Monitor WSI Participation Adherence to Governance procedures

Monitor WSI participant adherence with and exceptions to defined governance procedures.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 3

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Process - Communicate about WSI Performance

Periodically make accessible to WSI participants and affected stakeholders information on performance of the WSI in relation to stated objectives and predicted benefits.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 3

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Process - Participatory Final Evaluation and Audit

Undertake a participatory final evaluation and financial audit of the WSI, and communicate results to affected stakeholders.

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Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 4

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Process - Embed activities and outcomes into existing institutions

Determine how to best ensure that activities and outcomes are appropriately embedded into existing institutions.

How? The exit strategy is the plan that clarifies how the WSI will end or transform (e.g., once goals have been achieved, or at the end of the project or funding cycle). Fostering sustainability and mitigating risks of failure lie at the heart of this strategy. It must be designed jointly from the onset and revisited regularly as the initiative evolves. For more guidance see Tool 12: Developing an Exit Strategy.

Learn more by clicking here:
Applying Principles in Practice - Phase 4

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The Guidelines were kindly sponsored by BMZ and DFID

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