European utilities, governments, financiers and NGOs met at a meeting convened by the European Commission Devco in Brussels last week, to talk about a new Water Operators’ Partnerships Programme (EU-WOP) being prepared for launching in 2020. Aimed at helping utilities in developing countries meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the programme would provide support to water utilities from Europe to mentor their peers in developing countries. This EU-funded programme will be managed by the Global Water Operators' Partnerships (GWOPA) of UN-Habitat under which around 20 Water Operators' Partnerships will be established and will receive guidance from the global alliance.
In its development cooperation, the European Commission is increasingly embracing partnership approaches like WOPs that address multiple objectives and bring different actors together to reach the SDGs. The EU-WOPs programme proposes to add value to the diverse decentralized WOP activities already being led by European water utilities, by creating opportunities for learning and exchange between them. It also helps to get new European utilities involved as mentors. The programme also aims to involve financial institutions early on, to anchor and extend the benefits of these capacity development partnerships by linking them with investments.
During the meeting, more than 50 people from European Institutions put their minds together to comment and suggest improvements to the proposed programme. The EU-WOP programme builds on the lessons from an earlier Europe-wide experience (the 2013 EU-ACP Water Facility Partnership Window) and will make use of GWOPA’s experience in supporting WOPs processes.