Integrated consideration of water within its management context and in all social sectors

Started by Katalin Czippan on
03 Sep 2013 at 13:33

12.      The connective power of water should aim to be reflected in its management. Reconciling water uses among competing social needs is a political as well as technical process. The same water is often claimed by different needs. However, water is the vehicle that connects these social demands and can encourage new and productive political, technical and social dialogues to meet them. Due to population growth and economic development, such as for food production and changes in diet, water demand is growing fast. What have been perceived as regional or local scarcity and resource allocation problems are already accumulating to the global scale. Hence, water resources management should avoid spatial and thematic fragmentation. It should, however, promote consolidation and integration. Beyond the water domain, full integration must involve other sectors relying on water. Domestic water supply, sanitation, agricultural and industrial use, navigation, energy generation and recreation, but also ecosystem health considerations are as much part of it as addressing urban – rural issues, links to poverty eradication, adaptation to climate change and mitigating the impacts of extreme events that seem to have an ever increasing frequency.


13.      Most of our water assessment and management tools are based on the assumption of stationarity, that is, the long-term predictability of water extremes like droughts and floods, water shortage and abundance. Yet, our world displays strong non-stationarity. The signs are all around us in terms of surprises and sudden changes, such as a perceptibly increasing frequency of hydrological disasters that cannot be explained by our earlier mind-sets and current methodologies. We need to adapt to that non-stationarity. Otherwise humans will be subject to growing risks, which can undermine sustainability.


14.      Integrated water resources management principles and practice for a sustainable future should be accepted by all stakeholders who are bound in cooperation based on recognized responsibilities and processes, with adequate levels of accessible information and data, a shared and open knowledge base, capacity development, partnerships and conducive institutional-legal frameworks. Appropriate capacities, ranging from data collection services to scientific research, are pre-requisites to sound integrated water management. Water management, however, should go beyond the focus on the water cycle and competing uses and involve socio-economic, environmental, legal and governance-related issues in a collaborative spirit. Responsibilities and processes should be clearly outlined in governance schemes at all levels.


15.      Risks and uncertainties are unavoidable. However, innovative and alternative soft technologies should be tested and, when deemed successful, applied broadly.  This includes approaches that rely on ecosystems services, adaptation strategies that enhance the resilience of our water resources management systems through structural and non-structural measures, to mitigate risks. Adequate monitoring, improved forecasting capabilities but also risk-sharing mechanisms further contribute to lowering the risks and uncertainties thus enabling the convergence to a more sustainable and water-secure world.


16.      Providing comprehensive monitoring and early warning of emerging water problems will be critical to the success of the SDGs. Enormous progress in technology achieved over the past decade goes largely untapped, yet the technical and data resources are growing in their availability and sophistication. The free availability of much of these big data streams should be marshalled specifically to the task of monitoring progress on the SDGs. Further synthesis by the science community is necessary to interpret and track progress or lack thereof on the goals.

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