National apex bodies for water are governmental entities that aim to provide intersectoral coherence through coordinating all institutions with mandated responsibilities related to water. Apex bodies may take various forms but their coordinating and intersectoral ambition remains the same. This Tool provides an overview of the various forms, functions, and considerations related to existing and potential apex bodies.
The multi-dimensional nature of water challenges in any country creates the incentive to activate intersectoral mechanisms, known as national apex bodies (GWP and WWWS, 2015). The name indicates the idea behind the concept, which is to put water issues at the highest level of policy making (Newborne, 2005).
These entities enhance coordination between sectors, government agencies, civil society, and the private sector (PREP, 2007) outlining IWRM principles. However, it is important to recognise that establishing an apex body alone will not provide the guarantee of IWRM approach and it should be combined with respective policies, legislation, and capacity building mechanisms in place (GWP, 2004). Apex bodies provide a forum for different government departments and other stakeholders to work together on intersectoral objectives to avoid the situation when different ministries operating within the water sector (irrigation, energy, environment, water supply, health, fisheries, navigation, economic affairs etc.) focus solely on their plans and priorities (Birch, 2004).