GoAL-Waters – Sustainable use and protection of freshwater and coastal resources through strengthened national and local governance
In recent years, the GoAL-Waters programme has supported the strengthening of water governance and management processes, which leads to better planning, use and protection of water and coastal resources in urban areas, river basins, and coastal areas in 15 countries. Through partnerships between local UNDP offices and government ministries, GoAL-Waters has been able to highlight the importance of water in meeting local priorities, improving community and vulnerable group livelihoods, and enhancing gender-based outcomes.

The programme has enabled work on freshwater and coastal resources management to be carried out from the entry point of human rights, gender, integrity, biodiversity, climate change, and transboundary concerns. Most of this work has been done through short interventions that support critical functions of policy reform, or national-level consultation, analysis and action planning in relation to water/ocean-related SDG targets monitoring, as well as other follow-up activities.

Implementation Approach
The UNDP GoAL-Waters (Governance, Accountability and Learning for Water Sustainability) programme supports equitable, efficient and environmentally sustainable use and protection of freshwater and marine resources. It helps identify priorities and opportunities and address gaps and constraints in water and ocean governance by developing action at national and local levels. GoAL-Waters provides flexible support to national and local authorities and partners, supporting the 2030 Agenda with an emphasis on Sustainable Development Goals 6 to “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” and 14 to “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” GoAL-Waters builds on UNDP’s close working relationships with country governments and partners, through which UNDP regularly supports country level coordination, national development strategies and alignment with the SDGs. The support is delivered through UNDP Country Offices and partners, with strategic management and technical support provided through the UNDP-SIWI Water Governance Facility (WGF) and UNDP’s Water and Ocean advisors.

Good governance is essential for balancing the many often conflicting demands over freshwater and coastal resources. The demand for water within society has increased for decades. Land and water management has direct implications for upstream and downstream stakeholders, some of which extend to open ocean. Projected population and development trends point towards even sharpened competition for local water resources in the future. At the same time, climate change affects the supply and demand of freshwater and the vulnerability of coastal areas. These factors jeopardize livelihoods and vital ecosystem functions in river basins, along coasts and marine areas. The quality of a governance process sets the basis for the quality of its outcomes. GoAL-Waters provides a means to invest in governance – to strengthen intersectoral coordination, institutional arrangements and stakeholder engagement in priority-setting, development of plans, policies, laws and regulation, and in their implementation. Ensuring the involvement of vulnerable groups, supporting transparency, accountability and integrity/anti-corruption and taking due consideration to gender dimensions and human rights are all critical for the legitimacy as well as the sustainability of the outcomes.