Knowledge, Dialogue & Cooperation Strategy: 2013-2017

CONTEXT

The overarching objective of SAWI is to increase regional cooperation in the management of the major Himalayan river systems in South Asia to deliver sustainable, fair and inclusive development and climate resilience. The initiative has four geographic Focus Areas (Indus Basin, Ganges Basin, Brahmaputra Basin, Sundarbans Landscape), together with a cross-cutting Knowledge, Dialogue and Cooperation component (Figure 1).

Figure 1: SAWI program structure.

There is a growing recognition that the success of development programs depends on the use of effective and strategic stakeholder engagement. Even technically superior initiatives may fail, or produce weak results, because policy-makers, opinion makers and other interested individuals or groups are not appropriately consulted and informed. The development initiatives require creating a “communication culture” where dialogue and deliberations, knowledge enhancement and participation of diverse stakeholders are seen as an indispensable step for achieving the objectives.

SAWI therefore emphasizes and supports dialogue, trust building and stakeholder ownership at all possible levels; regional perspectives in knowledge development as well as detailed national or local knowledge where it is critical to transboundary issues; holistic multi-disciplinary analyses including the integration of climate change implications and gender impacts into all activities; and the identification of pragmatic activities that will catalyze positive change. This is not just about hearing the different voices but also giving them a role in informing the set of choices that it will undertake as part of its work program. This is a concerted move towards a more participatory style of SAWI where the key partners and stakeholders play an effective role in ensuring that SAWI’s work is most relevant to their needs, priorities and aspirations.

Different individuals and groups may have differing and often contradictory opinions and views, including on key issues such as equity, inclusion, transboundary cooperation, and sustainable management of water resources. However, by following a robust deliberations and consultation approach, SAWI will be better equipped to recognize such conflicts early on and develop and implement its activities in the most efficient manner with an enhanced ability to achieve the intended outcomes. To be most powerful of course, this dialogue and consultation will be built on a strong foundation of scientific and technical knowledge.