The Cross-Cutting Influence of Contextual Factors Affecting the Integrity of WSIs



The nature and extent of integrity risks are largely determined by the contextual environment within which a particular WSI operates. As the figure below illustrates, the three dimensions of WSI integrity — outcomes, participants, and processes — must be understood in the context of larger political, economic, and environmental conditions. WSIs need to be sufficiently and properly embedded in the public policy and political realities of a given country or basin. The relevance of existing policies and legislation, regulations and their enforcement (or lack thereof), and other basin factors all influence what WSIs can and cannot do, and may inflate certain integrity risks over others. Contextual factors that have bearing on the relative prominence of various WSI integrity risks include:

  • Environmental or River Basin Context: Factors include the availability and quality of water; climate variability and impacts of droughts and floods; important values, uses, and functions of water and water-related ecosystems; current and future water demand and conflict in the WSI basin. These factors need to be well understood and considered to identify priorities for the WSI and to inform potential trade-offs among economic, social, and environmental interests.
  • Policy, Institutional, and Regulatory Context: The maturity, “personality,” and performance of relevant river basin and other government institutions will be a key determinant of integrity risks within a WSI. A particular challenge exists where public policy, law, or the intent of public authorities is not yet aligned with SWM or with the best interests of local stakeholders and environment. Elements beyond the control or influence of the water sector, such as land or economic policy, may also have a bearing on WSIs.
  • Political Context: The political attitudes of local stakeholders and participants toward the problem being addressed by the WSI, as well as conceptions of multi-stakeholder partnerships, may influence the integrity of the WSI. External events such as elections or financial crises may shape behaviors and responses to WSI opportunities.
  • Socio-Economic and Cultural Context: Socio-economic development factors — such as social cohesion, demographic shifts, poverty and livelihood considerations, gender, and cultural attitudes toward issues such as contracts, agreements, access to information, and the rule of law — will have a bearing on the integrity issues facing a WSI.
  • Market Context: The interaction and relative power of socio-economic groups and actors affects their overall bargaining ability and the impact that collusion and capture can have on the distribution of private gains among WSI stakeholders. How the market functions in particular contexts (the existence of monopolies, how licenses are issued, etc.) may also shape the incentives and engagement of WSI participants.


Understanding How Contextual Factors Influence WSIs

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