Raising Awareness of Civil Society in Achieving Water Security and Water Goals within 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development in Tunis, Tunisia
The workshop investigated complementary themes: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG6 on Water and Sanitation, and Water Security and the Water, Energy and Food Nexus (WEF). Over 20 participants from CSOs and other interested civil society actors participated in the event, which aimed to raise awareness in understanding and approaching the SDGs and the water security concept as well as to support cooperation and dialogue between civil society and other actors active in the water sector.
A stage-setting presentation introduced the centrality of water within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and provided crucial information about the sustainable development process post-2015. Specific attention was granted to SDG 6 (Ensure access to water and sanitation for all) and its cross-cutting nature, along with its inclusiveness. This session also allowed participants to better understand the collaborative nature of the SDGs and the importance of multi-level, inter-institutional and inter-institutional stakeholder engagement and dialogue to achieve the set SDG targets. Moreover, a number of lessons learned, tools and case studies in promoting education for sustainable development (ESD) and SDG implementation – stemming from REC and other partners’ experience – was introduced.
The second session discussed the role and engagement of civil society in Tunisia towards the challenge of pushing for inclusive civil society participation at all levels to help achieving water-related development and SDG 6 targets, in the context of promoting a transformational approach to SDG implementation that accelerates collaborative knowledge creation and collective action and shifts the political-economic-environmental vision of our future.
The participants stressed the need to increasingly raise awareness in the public, who is mostly unaware of the huge transformational contribution and impact that these overarching programs can have on the Tunisian society, economy and environment as a whole. They also urged all CSOs to invest more time and capacity to ensure better coordination among themselves to avoid overlapping efforts, to nurture synergism, to share know-how and lessons learned, and to work together to bridge common capacity gaps. The planned decentralization process for Tunisia was also mentioned as a means to foster the engagement of CSOs in SDG planning and implementation schemes. Furthermore, the decentralization process should encourage the inclusion of SDG6 and other SDGs within local and regional plans. This would benefit the “localizing the SDGs” approach and help translating the global goals concrete and measurable actions at different levels.
Participants then split into three small working groups to create a moment of dialogue aimed at understanding the the role and responsibility of Civil Society connected to SDG achievement. The groups recognized the following points for further elaboration:
- Foster a bottom-up approach through which the SDG concept is spread across all groups - including women and marginalized communities - through tailored activities, e.g. specific website, capacity-building actions and the inclusion of children as advocates that can transfer the benefits of the SDG to different groups.
- Address the challenge of lack of information and access to it by working together with the other stakeholder to ensure that up-to-date and adequate information is shared among all relevant players.
- Highlight the contribution that civil society can make towards designing a strategic vision for water policy that enshrines SDG6 goals and targets.
- Support integration of regional and local communities could support pooling resources and attaining a harmonized local-level approach towards SDG implementation.
- CSOs should of evaluate and monitor their SDG-related actions to ensure that they have maximum impact and sustainability.
The following session on Water Security and the Water Agenda presented an integrated approach to water security that contributes to efforts to combat water scarcity, reduce the threat of conflict, halt environmental degradation and increase human wellbeing. Moreover, it helped discussing the role and engagement of civil society in Tunisia in contributing to reaching water security on the national level.
The Working Groups Session
After the Working Groups Session, the REC team introduced the WATER POrT E-Practicum – a data-base-like online tool, including a collection of good practices on water scarcity and drought management that can offer valuable lessons and prospects of repeatability.
The workshop ended on the note that the SDG process can be a pivotal instrument to advance Tunisia’s democratic transition and to strengthen the inclusiveness of policy-and-decision-making schemes. Societal, economic and environmental progress should go hand in hand, taking advantage of the inter-linkage between the SDGs and other sustainable development mechanisms and initiatives.