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To advocate for policy change, begin by implementing existing policies


To advocate for policy change, begin by implementing existing policies

To advocate for policy change, begin by implementing existing policies

Posted on August 31, 2021 by Lillian Holmes

Authoring Organizations: CEO Water Mandate
Consulting Organizations: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Universal: No
Applicable Phases: Assess
Last Updated May 22, 2024


In some contexts, natural resources-related policies exist but are not implemented. When advocating for water policy reform, an important first step is to support implementation of any existing policies. Engage private sector actors to identify why policies or incentives are not yet adopted – for example, are incentive programs too complicated for companies or communities to take advantage of? Identify opportunities for standardization of indicators, develop arguments to justify any needed policy change, and demonstrate your case based on your experiences.


  • Policy reform is a lengthy process. Advocates benefit from demonstrating implementation of the current policies – and from applying any lessons learned from the existing policy environment.
  • Where current policies are complex or difficult to implement, companies and communities benefit from implementation support.


  • Look also outside the private sector to identify incentive schemes or programs for communities or for the public sector. These criteria or incentives can form a pilot for other, broader programs.
  • Understand barriers to implementation of existing policies to inform calls for reform. Is there a lack of clarity in the existing policy? Are there opportunities to standardize indicators and simplify compliance?
  • Existing policies are only one part of the overall context in which your project operates. Achieve a robust understanding of the current policy environment along with other key elements of the environmental, technological, socio-economic, market, and political factors with the Natural Resources Risk and Action Framework Tool 10: Risks and Opportunities Assessment.


El Agua nos Une is a partnership led by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) with partners in national and local governments, the private sector, and civil society. The partnership is exploring the influence of water policy on corporate water stewardship. The partnership has chosen to begin by exploring existing incentive schemes, water reuse and water efficiency policies in order to demonstrate the impact of these instruments to build cases for broader engagement and provide feedback to policy makers on potential policy reforms. 

Projects that have validated this Lesson

None found.

This lesson learned reflects the beliefs and experiences of the author, not necessarily the Pacific Institute, CEO Water Mandate, or UN Global Compact.