Stories tagged: water management

Partnerships for Water are Partnerships for all the Global Goals

Image of Mashiri Zvarimwa

Mashiri Zvarimwa, Ambassador for the NextGen Ag Impact Network (NGIN) and Technical Assistance Facilitator for the Southern and Central Africa Regional Innovation Hub, examines the key role of water and partnerships in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals – especially Zero Hunger.

Halfway into the International Decade for Action and the world is significantly behind in meeting many of the goals for sustainable development and climate. To drive progress, accelerated action is needed. As the United Nations Water Conference concludes, occasions such as these highlight the opportunity for cooperation.

Water is both a unifying and divisive resource. People can find fellowship around a water source or create conflict over access. It can foster greater food security or hinder it. It is for these reasons that Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: Clean Water and Sanitation must always be in alignment with SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals and SDG 2: Zero Hunger for any of them to be achieved. After all, without water, there is no food security, no end to poverty and increased exposure to climate risks.

Partnerships for water

Effective partnerships must remove siloes that exist between policies on water for domestic and economic use, like irrigation. This requires developing data-driven water resource management strategies that foster cooperation. Technology now exists to accurately map groundwater resources, enabling equitable distribution of this precious commodity upon which people and the planet depend.

Partnerships also require alignment on strategic objectives, as misalignment may result in forces pulling in different directions, tearing apart the coalition. While all these challenges are real and often complex, they are surmountable, particularly when pitted against potential accrued benefits.

Strong cooperation and partnerships can yield extraordinary results, as evident in collaborations around transboundary water resources. Numerous economic benefits can be derived from such partnerships, such as the co-development of hydropower projects and irrigation schemes, increased trade and investment, as well as the creation of employment opportunities. This has been seen in a number of collaborations around water, for instance, the Mekong River Commission, an intergovernmental initiative for the cooperation and sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia. The Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) – an international partnership amongst riparian countries along the Nile River – has also yielded promising results. Additionally, the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) has brought together different countries to oversee the sustainable utilisation of water in the Danube River Basin in Europe.

At the same time, by 2030, the population of people between 15 and 24 years of age globally will reach 1.3 billion. This reality is a reminder that young people must be included at the centre of all negotiations and actions. Youth should contribute to the planning and development of the future they will experience. Platforms like the NextGen Ag Impact Network (NGIN) are already working with networks of young people to drive action-oriented partnerships that amplify youth voices. Young people, too, must work to accelerate action towards achieving the SDGs.

However, these partnerships face significant and often complex challenges relating to the establishment of trust, particularly where a history of conflict exists. When partner countries disagree over the use of resources, they risk derailing progress and success. As the UN Water Conference comes to a close, therefore, stakeholders must work to resolve such conflicts and promote peace by setting up mechanisms for mediation to de-escalate tensions and re-establish trust.

Water and the SDGs

Water security as well as equitable water management and distribution contribute to global peace and food security. The socioeconomic pressure caused by water crises can easily flare up into conflict and instability. Recently, Brazil experienced its worst drought in over 90 years. This created water shortages that caused low hydropower generation and high energy costs, as well as an increase in food prices. Water, energy and food are interlinked, and therefore developing solutions to such complex and sensitive challenges requires nexus thinking. Importantly, stakeholders from the three sectors must be fully involved in designing solutions to these challenges. Through these interlinkages, the UN Water Conference stakeholders must promote actions that leverage cross-cutting innovations to produce more food with more efficient water and energy use.

Given that we are halfway into the International Decade for Action, the UN Water Conference offers the opportunity to take bold steps to amplify action going forward. This is only possible when all stakeholders play their part. Siloes delay impact and may offset the progress made to date. The window of opportunity is only getting smaller and young people have a huge role to play.  While the task at hand is daunting, the power of cooperation can drive progress towards the attainment of SDG 6.

Local People Hold the Key to Solving Burkina Faso’s Water Challenges

Liza Debevec, Senior Gender and Water Specialist at the Global Water Partnership and former Senior Social Scientist at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Continue reading

Transboundary Water Management

The management of water resources across boundaries, whether sub-national or international, is one of the most difficult challenges facing water managers today.

Picture 2A new book, published by Earthscan, addresses the challenges of managing transboundary waters around the world, providing a fully comprehensive review of the various issues involved with the aim to help policy makers in their decisions.

Whilst water is bound by no political, economic or social margins, it is a political, economic and social issue, and an inequitable distribution of water resources around the world is a major cause of competition and conflict between countries.

Whilst the argument of ‘water wars’ has been gaining traction recently, rather the authors of ‘Transboundary Water Management’ advocate for a cooperative environment in managing water resources, to unlock their contribution to regional sustainable development.

The book examines the current challenges faced by governments and organisations involved in water management initiatives in international river basins. These include international laws, governance issues and existing conflicts. The essays also consider the future situation in light of socioeconomic and environmental change. Offering valuable insight to politicians and government negotiators concerned with issues of water security, the book identifies business models for transboundary river basin institutions and offers recommendations towards effectuating a framework for peaceful and sustainable transboundary water management.

Safeguarding Water Resources to Feed Future Generations

On the 22nd March, people around the world celebrated World Water Day, an annual event held to celebrate freshwater.  The initiative, which grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, raises awareness worldwide of the need for sustainable management of water resources.

Agriculture accounts for 70% of freshwater withdrawn for human use and that figure will rise as the demand for irrigated land increases.  In a recent report, ‘Charting Our Water Future’, by the 2030 Water Resources Group, estimates showed that in twenty years time our global water requirements will be 40 percent greater than the current supply, which necessitates that the agricultural sector takes steps to use water more efficiently.

The OECD has published a new study looking at the sustainable management of water resources in agriculture.  The report highlights the increased pressures on already scarce water resources due to climate change, which has increased the incidence of drought and flood in some areas. Amidst growing urbanisation, industrialisation and more severe weather conditions, the report states that farmers will need to produce more food but with less water, and it offers the following policy recommendations for increasing water efficiency and improving water management in agriculture:

  • Recognize the complexity and diversity of managing water resources in agriculture; water use is a complex issue, due to the variety of water resources and different allocations of water to agriculture amongst other consumptive uses in different countries. Policies must be country and region-specific accordingly.
  • Strengthen institutions and property rights; simplify the network of organisations that manage water resources and create more flexibility in water property rights to meet environmental demands.
  • Ensure charges for water supplied to agriculture reflect full supply costs; need to address the scarcity value of water by developing measures to ensure full cost recovery of water usage in agriculture, which will help to promote water use efficiency.
  • Improve policy integration between agriculture, water, energy and environment policies; identifying the interrelationship between these sectors will help to encourage more efficient use of water and energy through, for example, the restoration of land in flood plains by planting of trees.
  • Enhance agriculture’s resilience to climate change and climate variability; better land management practices will help to cope with a growing incidence of flood and drought.
  • Address knowledge and information deficiencies to better guide water resource management; measuring water use, being transparent about water supply costs and monitoring water extractions will help to direct better policy decision making as well as providing the best technical advice to farmers.