Greater Mekong Water Resources Program’s approach to policy dialogue: evaluative study and management response
Summary of publication
Australia has been supporting Mekong societies to manage their water resources since the 1990s through the Greater Mekong Water Resources Program (GMWRP) with a goal of contributing to water, food, energy and environmental security in the region. One of the program objectives is to foster trust and open discussion between Greater Mekong governments and other water-related stakeholders through policy dialogue.
In 2016, DFAT decided to conduct an evaluative study of the GMWRP's approach to policy dialogue to ensure efforts were sufficiently robust, broad and frequent to contribute to policy reform; and were using best practice to engage with the program's implementing partners and target stakeholders (including Mekong governments, civil society, the private sector and researchers). The evaluative study:
- tested the logic and effectiveness of policy dialogue approaches currently used in the program;
- identified opportunities for innovation and areas of improvement in policy and economic dialogue;
- collated information about successful policy dialogue under the program to inform wider replication; and
- identified other policy dialogue approaches that could be used in the program, including those informed by research and contextual understanding of the dynamics of the region, and regional water politics in particular.
The study found the GMWRP approach is commendable and represents good value for money. It recommended further work on thinking and working politically, along with a process to refine the definition and understanding of policy, policy influencing, and policy dialogue amongst program partners.
DFAT welcomes the findings of the evaluative study and agrees or partially agrees with all recommendations. The study points to the effectiveness of the policy dialogue approaches used by the GMWRP and its implementing partners, while also making suggestions on ways to improve them. The case studies provided offer concrete examples of achievements against the program's outcomes. DFAT's GMWRP management team, working closely with GMWRP implementing partners, will make use of the recommendations to inform our work and approach to policy dialogue for the remaining two years of the program.