Summary expert meeting Land & Water Integration


In this session the question was raised how land & water management can be more  integrated with each other. Dealing with issues such as climate change and assuring food security, everybody agrees that an integrated approach is key to find a sustainable solution. But why is it so difficult to realise this integration in practice?

Challenges with integration

The different panel members offered their unique perspective on this question. Emphasis was on the complex situation in which partners are working and where integration hardly takes place. Among other things, results frameworks - outcomes, indicators & outputs - by which NGOs and other aid agencies are evaluated, do not facilitate an integrated approach. 

Furthermore, the difficulty with integration also stems from the fact that people in general are inclined to ‘silo’ think. A holistic view does not necessarily come naturally. Therefore, instruments such as SEA are important because they focus on the process and not only on sectoral / thematic content.

This was confirmed by experiences from the field, where SEA enabled stakeholders to grasp the complexity of various planning processes.

Points for discussion

After the presentations, there was room for discussion. Speakers from ministries, NGOs, financial institutions and academia, confronted with the dilemma of methods to integrate different kinds of expertise and points of view in their work, commented and raised questions.  Main elements that were derived from the discussion:

  • The (technical-rational) approach of looking at complex projects, causes experts to focus on their field of expertise, thereby not taking into account  other factors or types of expertise. During the session the term ‘Silo-thinking’ was used to describe the limited scope in which solutions are found for specific problems, with a blind spot for a more ‘holistic’ view (the bigger picture).
  • The role of financial institutions to advocate a more integrated approach like SEA, can be very determining. Addressing the need for integration beforehand can urge initiators to rethink their planning process.  
  • The quantitative way of evaluating results (outputs, indicators)  does not stimulate an integrated approach. Incorporating different stakeholders and their points of view, like in SEA, helps to facilitate a process that receives more support and in the end provides a results that is more effective.  
  • Key for integration to work is keeping things ‘simple’. Decision makers need to deal with complexity but should be informed in such a way that it can easily be understood.