Stockholm, Sweden - Improved river flow management will be
vital to protecting communities from the worst impacts of climate change and to
achieving international goals on poverty reduction, according to a new report
issued on the eve of World Water Week.
Securing Water for Ecosystems and Human Well-being: The Importance of
Environmental Flows also finds that river flow management to meet diverse
environmental and human needs should be funded through appropriate valuation of
the ecosystem services provided by healthy rivers. These include maintenance of
groundwater levels, flood and drought mitigation, and contributions to human
livelihoods, nutrition and health.
The report, developed in collaboration between major global institutions
including Water Week organizer the Stockholm International Water Institute,
Swedish Water House, UNESCO-IHE, the International Union for the Conservation of
Nature (IUCN), UNEP- DHI, Deltares and NGOs such as WWF, Conservation
International and The Nature Conservancy, draws on the latest research and
practices on environmental flows and their significance.
“Initially the emphasis in environmental flows was on the amount of water
released down rivers,” said one of the report’s lead authors, Dr Birgitta Malm
Renöfält, Cluster group leader at Swedish Water House.
“Now we recognize the importance of different flow levels and the timing of
flows to different river functions and understand that maintaining a healthy
functioning ecosystem requires much more sophisticated river management.
“For example, base flows are vital to surrounding water table levels and soil
moisture levels, pulse flows shape the character or river channels and large
floods replenish nutrients and recharge aquifers over wider areas.”
The report documents sensitive infrastructure development and operation and
appropriate environmental flow management benefits for health and earnings in
Kenya and Tanzania, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Iran and the Sudan.
With water availability expected to be one of the major and most severe
impacts of climate change in many areas of the world, sufficient and equitable
allocation of water will become more and more vital for both people and
“The environmental community has critical tools to offer for climate change
adaptation, and environmental flow regulation is an important part of the
climate adaptation toolbox,” said Dr Mark Smith, Head, IUCN Water Programme.
For further information contact:
Phone: +4673914 39 96
Phone: +31 15 2858537
The Nature Conservancy
Mobile Phone: +1703 841-8779
Work Phone: +17036785639
Conservation International (CI)
Mobile Phone: +1571 232 0455
Work Phone: +1703 341 2561
Phone: +4122 999 0255