Q&A with President of Consejo Consultivo del Agua: Collective Action Central to the Democratic Process

Victor Lichtinger is the President of Consejo Consultivo del Agua (CCA), Mexico’s water advisory council. In this interview, he discusses how the 2030 WRG is addressing bottlenecks to progress in a democratic way.

Water resources challenges are complex, interdependent, and highly political in nature. No political or social actor can address or tackle these challenges alone.

2030 WRG: What are the main bottlenecks prohibiting progress in Mexico?

VL: Perhaps one of the most important bottlenecks is the political system itself. It does not regard water issues as important, a situation that translates into declining budgets, continuous state retrenchment, and a lack of enforcement capabilities. Another huge problem is a weak rule of law and corruption.

On the side of civil society, lack of education and knowledge about water challenges is a problem. If society does not pressure governments to address water challenges in a more steadfast and timely manner, governments simply will not allocate political and financial resources to address them.

Lastly, the lack of a more enabling environment for innovation, not only technological innovation, but societal-institutional innovation. For example, it is extremely difficult to innovate in terms of collaboration, inter-institutional coordination, financial mechanisms, and technological innovation. This is why the CCA launched the Social Pact for Water.

2030 WRG: Do you believe sustainable solutions require collective action?

VL: Water resources challenges are complex, interdependent, and highly political in nature. No political or social actor can address or tackle these challenges alone.

Water users all need water for different, valid purposes. But there is not enough water for everyone, so conflicts arise. In a democratic society, such conflict is resolved through deliberative, representative, and inclusive debate of different points of view, allowing collective decision-making. Value pluralism, interest representation, and public deliberation are at the center of democratic practice. Today, more than ever, these practices should be strengthened. Collective action is central to democratic societies. This is what the CCA is all about.

2030 WRG: How has 2030 WRG contributed to collective action through the CCA?

VL: 2030 WRG plays a catalyzing role. It is flexible and fast to respond, making it very supportive of the CCA’s mandate and responsibilities. This is a crucial value in fast-changing times.

2030 WRG has brought great dynamism, responsiveness, and drive to the CCA. Our partnership has supported new strategic alliances, increased the CCA’s engagement level on policy and institutional reform, strengthened our technical competence, and expanded our organizational and financial capabilities. We at the CCA appreciate the strategic, technical, and financial support that 2030 WRG provides.

2030 WRG: How can MSPs become more sustainable?

VL: An MSP can only be sustainable if it is responsive and relevant. The CCA needs to keep evolving to address the contextual challenges that affect the Mexican water polity and MSP. Innovation is key to this; the CCA has to continue enabling social learning and different forms of collaborative governance. It also needs to maintain its autonomy, neutrality, and science-based interventions; continue to democratize and thus become more inclusive and representative; and find a way to become more financially robust, diversifying its funding sources.

If society does not pressure governments to address water challenges in a more steadfast and timely manner, governments simply will not allocate political and financial resources to address them. This is why the CCA launched the Social Pact for Water.