UN-Habitat’s vision is “a better quality of life for all in an urbanizing world”. UN-Habitat works with partners to build inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and communities. UN-Habitat promotes urbanization as a positive transformative force for people and communities, reducing inequality, discrimination and poverty. 

In line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the New Urban Agenda (NUA), UN-Habitat seeks as part of its Strategic Plan to contribute to increased equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water, improved sanitation and sustainable management of water resources, including wastewater treatment, recycling and safe reuse.  

The Global Water Operators’ Partnership Alliance (GWOPA) and its Secretariat in Bonn, Germany, have been hosted by UN-Habitat since 2009. GWOPA supports water and sanitation operators through Water Operators’ Partnerships (WOPs) – not-for-profit, peer support partnerships globally between operators. These partnerships are aimed at enhancing their capacity and performance to improve service delivery and contribute to the achievement of SDGs, recognizing the forefront role that these service providers play at the local level. The GWOPA Secretariat translates GWOPA’s mandate into strategies and programs and implements, through collaboration with a range of partners, to ensure WOPs are scaled up and contribute to water and sanitation service providers’ improved capacity and performance.  


Description of the Assignment 

Water and sanitation service providers are key to achieving the SDGs, particularly SDG 6's aim for universal and sustainable water and sanitation management. This task rests mainly on these frontline operators, without whom this goal cannot be realized. SDG 6 highly complements the achievement of the other SDGs. Water being essential for life on earth, its sustainable management is a requirement for other SDGs – from health to peace to climate – and must be prioritized. 

In the face of growing global challenges of climate change and conflict, access to safe water and sanitation services plays an ever more important role in assuaging the negative impacts and buffering against further strife.  Ensuring that water and sanitation service providers can play their full role in not only facilitating access to these basic services but safely managing water and sanitation resources, is also a safeguard against regression in advances towards sustainability. 

Despite facing challenges, water and sanitation operators worldwide are committed to fulfilling their crucial mandate. There's potential for greater empowerment and performance improvements, and with more comprehensive global data, their operations and impact on sustainable development can be more clearly understood and enhanced. 

 On one side, some utilities excel not just in performance but also as sources of innovation and inspiration, actively integrating sustainable development goals at the local level. GWOPA believes there are significant opportunities to boost the performance of less advanced operators by leveraging the experiences and assistance of these more progressive utilities. 

In line with this approach, UN-Habitat will, through GWOPA, prepare a global report that presents a state and role of practice and opportunities for water and sanitation service providers in cities and human settlements (the title is a draft to be confirmed). As the only UN programme dedicated exclusively to these local actors, GWOPA’s report will be designed to give a comprehensive global snapshot of the operator's work and its relevance and opportunity for sustainable development.  

The objective of the proposed Global Report is to: 

  • Understand the connections between the work of utilities and the local realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. 
  • Compile a comprehensive overview of water and sanitation service providers worldwide, including their numbers, governance, financing mechanisms, capacity and performance.  
  • Identify the needs and opportunities for local water and sanitation service providers to advance SDG achievement using case studies and statistics. 
  • Recommend actions at various levels to enable opportunities to be seized. 

A sample Table of Contents for the Report (a revised version to be prepared as part of the project inception) 

  1. Forewords 
  2. Background  
  3. Global Data and Trends on Water and Sanitation service providers 
  4. Numbers, size, scope 
  5. Governance (roles and legal mandate, ownership, integration, Multilevel governance) 
  6. Finance (business models applied, cost recovery) 
  7. Capacity and Performance (empowerment, KPIs, staffing, youth, disability, and gender-responsiveness in staffing and services) 
  8. Innovation, Technology and approaches (nature-based solutions, climate tools, relevant global approaches in service provision, reuse) 
  9. Operators and the SDGs (role in SDG 6 and others including health, climate, biodiversity, cities, decent work and peace). For each segment: 
  10. Overview of the issues and challenges 
  11. Key practice and performance data relative to the issue 
  12. Examples of good practices and opportunities 
  13. Recommendations at different levels to advance action support operators to play a full role in SDG implementation. 

The section on global trends should synthesize current research and practice for presentation in a clear, concise and unbiased way. The publication will be used by a wide variety of sector professionals and is expected to be frequently cited in the literature.  

The section on operators and SDGs will aim to be forward-looking and inspirational, highlighting the opportunities to strengthen water and sanitation service providers to be powerful forces for SDG realization.  To this end, the report will seek out and showcase the best current examples from practice to illustrate the possibilities.  

The publication should offer a blend of data and analysis, highlight exemplary practices, reflect contemporary policy discourse, provide guidance on emerging issues, and recommend management and policy strategies. The publication should utilize the comprehensive resources of the GWOPA Secretariat and its Alliance, capitalizing on the wealth of data, case studies, and expertise of its members and partners. Additionally, the preparation of the report will be carried out in collaboration with the broader UN-Habitat and UN-Water.  

This call invites expressions of interest from governmental bodies, international organizations, nonprofits, NGOs, and academic institutions to lead the preparation of the report. Selected institution(s) will be expected to work under the overall guidance of GWOPA/UN-Habitat and in collaboration with other partners in (1) developing the structure and scope of the report, (2) developing background papers and drafting selected chapters in collaboration with GWOPA’s global network;( 3) collecting and reviewing data and case studies to illustrate chapters; (4) supporting expert groups and technical meetings with background documentation; (5) developing a draft version of the report for consultation; and (6) finalizing the report based on reviews. 

Institutions interested in complementing their expertise through collaboration are encouraged to submit joint expressions of interest. Such partnerships should appoint a lead entity responsible for subsequently subcontracting the other partner(s). Submissions from or close collaboration with institutions in the global south are strongly encouraged. Short-listed candidates may be requested to submit detailed proposals or provide clarifications. 

The Expression of Interest (EOI) should contain, but may not be limited to, the following: 

  1. A concept note including background information and the approach that will be applied to the institution’s contribution towards the report; 

  2. Experience of the organization in water, sanitation utilities and related topics. This should include a portfolio of projects undertaken in similar areas (references); 

  3. Organizations should specify their intended support, detailing cash and in-kind contributions, which may include researchers' staff time, office space, equipment, and other resources, quantified in monetary terms. 

  4.  Details on governance and organizational structure, along with resumes highlighting the experience and qualifications of key staff and descriptions of the organization's infrastructure facilities, should be provided. 

  5. Certified true copies of original audited account statements for the last two years. 

  6. Latest annual report. 


UN-Habitat Financial Contribution 

Upon selection, UN-Habitat will enter into an Agreement of Cooperation with the selected entity with a value of US$90,000 for the successful delivery of the report. 

Overall Timeframe 

The work outlined in this EOI will commence in January 2024 and be completed within twelve months. 

Activity/Output   Completion date  
Expert group to review the Concept Note and Chapter Outline   January-2024 
Final and approved the Concept Note and Chapter Outlines  January-2024 
Completion of the first draft of chapters    July-2024 
Expert group to review the first draft of chapters   July -2024 
Completion of data collection and case studies  August -2024 
Completion of the second draft of chapters  August-2024 
Completion of the final draft of chapters   September-2024 
Submission for layout and publishing   October-2024 
Publishing of the Global Report   October-2024 
Launch of the Global Report at the GWOPA Assembly   November-2024 
Dissemination of the Global Report   December -2024 


Submission Requirements and Guidelines 

The EOI must be delivered in electronic format no later than 24 November 2023 to with the reference “GWOPA Global Report” indicated in the subject. 

Contact information  

Åsa Jonsson 

Head, Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) 

Urban Basic Services Section, UN-Habitat


Please note that this EOI notice does not constitute a solicitation. UN-Habitat reserves the right to change or cancel this requirement at any time in the EOI/or solicitation process. Submitting a reply to an EOI does not guarantee that a Cooperation Partner will be considered for receipt of the solicitation when issued and only Cooperation Partners who are deemed qualified by UN-Habitat upon completion of evaluation of submission will receive the final solicitation document.