The High Level Panel on Water

Australia’s appointment to the High Level Panel on Water (HLPW), co-convened by the United Nations and World Bank, demonstrates our recognised status as a leader in the sector, and provides a platform from which to do even more. The HLPW consists of 11 sitting Heads of State and Government and one Special Adviser, and has been convened to provide the leadership required to champion a comprehensive, inclusive and collaborative way of developing and managing water resources, and improving water and sanitation related services.

The core focus of the Panel is the commitment to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, as well as to contribute to the achievement of the other SDGs that rely on the development and management of water resources.

On 21 September 2016, the HLPW called for a fundamental shift in the way the world looks at water. The Panel issued an Action Plan for a new approach to water management that will help the world to achieve the 2030 agenda, including the 17 SDGs. The HLPW commits itself to take action on water and calls upon Heads of State and Government, and all people, to do the same. The Panel was announced by the co-conveners at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2016, and officially launched in April 2016 in New York. The Panel is a time-bound initiative, established for an initial period of two years.

Conclusion of the HLPW

The High Level Panel on Water outcomes package was presented to the United Nations Secretary-General and World Bank President in a ceremony in New York on 14 March 2018. HLPW co-chairs, Mauritius and Mexico, presented the Outcomes Report titled ‘Make Every Drop Count’ and an Open Letter from the HLPW.

“World leaders now recognize that we face a global water crisis and that we need to reassess how we value and manage water. The panel’s recommendations can help to safeguard water resources and make access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation a reality for all.”

  For more information visit the UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform.

Australia’s Contribution

Australia is leading on ‘data’, ‘water use efficiency’ and ‘innovation challenges’. We are also supporting the Netherlands on ‘valuing water’, and Hungary on ‘catalysing change’.

World Water Data Initiative

This initiative aims to improve access to water data for governments, communities and the private sector. It includes ‘policy’ and ‘harmonisation’ pillars (led by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology) and an innovation pillar (led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade).

SummaryRoadmap World Water Data Initiative
Good Practice Guidelines for Water Data Management Policy (BoM)
Kini: Reaching SDG 6 in a Cost-Effective Manner

Water Use Efficiency Initiative

This initiative focuses on the need for improved water efficiency in economic sectors, like agriculture and energy, which are the big water users.  As a contribution to this work, the Australian Water Partnership (AWP) published WaterGuide (led by Aither), which draws on lessons from Australia’s water use efficiency in the context of scarcity, and published A Guide to Environmental Water Management (led by The Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and Aither). AWP will contribute to household water use efficiency via an International Standard on Water Efficiency Labelling Standards (WELS) Scheme (led by Standards Australia and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources).

Summary | Roadmap Water use Efficiency
Kini: DAWR: The Water Efficiency Labelling Standard (WELS) Scheme

Water Innovation Engine

This initiative is a pioneering partnership to stimulate more innovation and investment in the water sector. The WIE brings together governments, funders, and entrepreneurs to foster innovations that accelerate impact for water-related aspects of the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG 6. Current opportunities to engage with the WIE are The Water Data Challenge and The Urban Sanitation ChallengeFind out more 

Framing papers for the High-Level Panel on Water

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT) commissioned the Australian Water Partnership (AWP)  to develop a set of framing papers as an input to the UN/World Bank High-Level Panel on Water. With contributions from a number of AWP partners across Australia, including inputs from the Australian Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Reference Group, these papers will contribute to the HLPW Action Plan.


WaterGuide by H. Pohlner and W. Fargher of Aither, is an organising framework for improved water management and use in response to scarcity. The first edition of WaterGuide was published by the Australian Water Partnership in March 2017 as part of Australia’s contribution to the High Level Panel on Water, and has since been used as the foundation for water policy dialogues with Jordan, Mexico, Senegal and Iran. A newly released second edtion of WaterGuide improves the six-step framework based on its application for these countries, and demonstrates how it can and has been applied to improve water management globally.
  HLPW – WaterGuide (12.6mb)

A Guide to Managing Water for the Environment

A Guide to Managing Water for the Environment, by Aither and the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, offers practical advice for countries seeking to improve management of water for the environment within an SDG timeframe (i.e. by 2030). In many countries, the water demands of agriculture, industry, towns and cities are increasing year on year. As pressure on existing resources and the natural environment increases, water allocation and use decisions must acknowledge the fundamental importance of water for the environment as the basis for system health. This guide sets out elements that can be helpful when establishing or reforming related policies in any jurisdiction based on lessons from Australia and other countries.
  HLPW – A Guide to Managing Water for the Environment (7.3mb)

Gender Equality and Goal 6: The Critical Connection (cover)
Gender Equality & Goal 6: The Critical Connection

Gender Equality & Goal 6: The Critical Connection expands on the framing paper for the High-Level Panel on Water (HLPW), by Melita Grant and Professor Juliet Willetts of the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, and Chelsea Huggett and Jane Wilbur of WaterAid. It includes additional content and delves deeper into Gender Equality and Social Inclusion issues – supporting AWP’s commitment to GESI – and focuses primarily on the HLPW Action Plan’s ‘Water Governance’ and ‘Universal Access to Safe Water and Sanitation’ themes. It identifies key areas of action for the HLPW, and other international development actors and governments, which can contribute to more sustainable and effective water management outcomes for all people while decreasing the inequalities prevalent in many societies. It also provides a range of case studies and outlines the implications for improving policy and practice.
Gender Equality & Goal 6: The Critical Connection  1.8mb

Valuing Water

Huw Pohlner, Simon Hone, Will Fargher, and Chris Olszak of Aither identify the state of global practice in valuing water, describe how valuation has been integrated into water management to achieve more efficient, equitable and sustainable outcomes, and provide options to spark global action within an SDG timeframe to improve water management by making more effective use of valuation.
HLPW – Valuing Water (551kb)

Human Settlements

Professor Tony Wong describes how Integrated Water Cycle Management can be used to address emerging global water management challenges to do with urbanisation as populations grow, environments become degraded, climate uncertainty increases, and resources are constrained.
HLPW – Human Settlements (2mb)

Building Resilient Economies and Communities Through the Effective Management of Water Scarcity and Drought

Professor Jane Doolan describes approaches to managing drought and water scarcity for the 40% of the world’s population facing these problems.
HLPW – Building Resilient Economies (913kb)

Gender & SDG 6: The Critical Connection – A Framing Paper for the High-Level Panel on Water (cover)
Gender & SDG 6: The Critical Connection

M. Grant, C. Huggett and J.Willetts explore how Sustainable Development Goal 6 and the High-Level Panel on Water Action Plan can significantly contribute to gender equality in both water resources management and WASH, and by doing so, will contribute to more sustainable and effective water management outcomes for all people, while decreasing the inequalities prevalent in many societies.
  HLPW – Gender & SDG6: The Critical Connection (1.1mb)