OECD Water Days - Water Governance in Latin America and the Caribbean, 25 March 2021

 

Opening remarks by Angel Gurría,

OECD Secretary-General

Paris, 25 March 2021

Dear Excellencies, dear Friends of Water,

I am delighted to open this session on “Water Governance in Latin America and the Caribbean” and to launch our report on “Water Governance in Peru”, as part of the inaugural week of the OECD Water Days.

I want to thank Violeta Bermudez, President of the Ministers’ Council of Peru, and Gabriel Guijandria, Minister of Environment of Peru, for “opening your books” to us and allowing us to understand and provide recommendations on this important topic.

Since the early 2000s, 5000 flood events have affected more than 2 million people in Peru; and there have been over a dozen severe droughts. With climate change and urbanisation, these disasters will likely get worse, more frequent and more intense.

Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has also reinforced the importance of water security. Simple hygienic measures, such as hand washing, are essential to reduce the spread of the virus, which has exacted a heavy toll on lives and livelihoods across the globe, claiming over 700,000 lives in the LAC region, and 50 000 in Peru alone.

Our 15 years of experience developing better water policies at the OECD have shown that saving money on water security is a false economy. Not just in lost lives, lost human capital and higher health costs, but also in terms of mitigation costs to manage floods, droughts and pollution.

Indeed, investment in water security and economic growth are interlinked. There are feedback cycles between vulnerability and exposure to water risks, and water-related limits to economic growth.

In the case of Peru, the country’s GDP declined by 11.4% in 2020, and it is not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels before 2022. Exports will be critical to the recovery of the Peruvian economy, including water-intensive exports such as agriculture.

In this context, the launch of the report ”Water Governance in Peru” is more timely and relevant than ever.

The report shows that Peru has made significant progress to consolidate its multiple frameworks for water policy. For example, through the recognition of the human right to water and sanitation; the 2009 Water Law, which defines the legal and institutional framework for water resources management; and the 2017-2021 Sanitation Policy, which aims to improve water quality and promote the sustainable use of sanitation services, while expanding universal coverage of water services for all.

Moreover, the creation of a National Water Authority, an Economic Regulator for Water Supply and Sanitation, and several basin and local water authorities are also key examples of Peru’s commitment to the improvement of water governance. So is Peru’s progress in implementing abstraction and pollution charges; and setting innovating payment mechanisms for ecosystem services.

However, significant challenges remain to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 6 on “Clean Water and Sanitation for All”.

Even before COVID-19, 3 million Peruvians lacked improved access to drinking water and a quarter of the population lacked improved access to sanitation. It is straight-forward: poor water quality will continue to affect the health of people if there is no improvement in waste water treatment, agricultural water use, solid waste management and illegal mining.

Good governance can help address these challenges and overcome the complexity and fragmentation in Peru’s water policy. Building on the OECD Principles on Water Governance, this report provides key recommendations to enhance sectoral policy coordination and economic regulation, and improve water use efficiency among others.

The report also advocates the need for a truly holistic, integrated approach to water resources management under a National Strategy for Long-term Water Security. It also recommends enhancing the governance and performance of SUNASS, Peru’s economic regulator, by ensuring adequate and predictable financial resources; and improving performance monitoring of water and sanitation service provision.

Dear friends,

Water is not only essential to our well-being but also a crucial element to ensure a resilient, inclusive and green recovery. It therefore remains paramount to support, develop and improve our water infrastructure and to link our recovery efforts with our wider development objectives.

I can assure you that the OECD will continue to support Peru in the years ahead to design, develop and deliver better water policies for better lives.

Thank you.

 

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