Transforming Global Water Management for Long term Sustainability

9/4/2014

​Conservation International collaborates with 18 global experts to create set of guidelines for sustainable water management

Stockholm, Sweden/Arlington, Va. USA– In partnership with the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), Conservation International (CI) collaborated with 18 global experts in water science, management, economics and policy to create a set of guidelines for assessing risk for long-term sustainable water management.
 
Today, at the Stockholm 2014 World Water Week, these guidelines were presented during a live-streamed session. The session co-convened by Conservation International began at 9:00AM UTC/ 4:00AM EDT and brought together many of the co-authors of the eBook who discussed the topics covered in the book as well as reviewed regional case studies and some of the resources available for decision-making in water management.
 
"The eBook is designed to assist many different individuals from engineers to planners, economists, conservationists, and finance specialists.  It's for anyone who needs to incorporate climate adaptation into their water resources management work; especially those who are looking at the complex relationships between water management, urbanization, demographic change, ecological shifts, and economic cycling," says John Matthews, co-author and co-lead of AGWA.
 
The urgency with which we need to think forward and carefully for our global water management is clear.  "Perhaps as many as 3.5 billion people on Earth do not have satisfactory access to improved water sources.  By 2050 human demand is likely to have increased by 55 percent, but more than 40 percent of the population will experience severe water stress.  The choices we make now, can help close this water gap and support social and economic growth around the world, but those choices must be made carefully and must give us flexibility to adapt to unpredictable climate change," added Matthews.
 
The AGWA live-streamed session is one of several co-convened at World Water Week by Conservation International (CI).   Yesterday, CI moderated a panel debate exploring water management in the oil and gas industry.  CI has been working with the industry to enhance functionality of the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (IBAT) to incorporate a water component. IBAT compiles critical biodiversity data to identify business risks in an easy to use, online mapping tool.
 
Ian Harrison, Senior Manager for Freshwater Science & Policy at Conservation International, says "decision-makers have to make the right decisions on the sustainable management of freshwater ecosystems, in such a way that local communities continue to get the water resources they require and that the ecosystems remain stable continuing to provide other essential goods and services.  To achieve this, we- the conservation and science community need to provide decision-makers with the baseline scientific information they need.  IBAT does this, in a way that is easy to visualize and use from watershed to global scales."
 
CI also co-convened a review session on sustainable hydropower.  The session brought together leading managers, decision-makers, and researchers in the fields of governance, economics, industry and science to define one of the most pressing and difficult challenges being faced by water managers; how to provide sufficient energy for growing economies while managing essential rivers flows.
 
"The resilience of freshwater ecosystems, hence their capacity to supply us with a host of goods and services beyond the water itself, is fundamentally dependent on their natural flows and the upstream watersheds that supply them," says Dr. Leonardo Sáenz, Director of Eco-Hydrology at Conservation International.  "If there is demonstrated need for a new hydropower project, we have to judiciously balance gains against potential environmental and social risks associated to project sitting and changes in river flows, but also we need to assess those risks through the lenses of climate change and the need for people to adapt to it. But most importantly, we need to focus efforts on improving the efficiency and sustainability of existing infrastructure and the management of their upstream watersheds so that we can ensure greater energy security with the same infrastructure while mitigating the pressure to expand hydropower developments in critical freshwater ecosystems."

2014 World Water Week runs August 31 – September 5, 2014 and is organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute.  It has been the annual focal point for the globe's water issues since 1991. 

About Conservation International (CI)
Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity for the well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area and employs more than 800 staff in 30 countries on six continents, and has nearly 1,000 partners around the world.  For more information, please visit our website: www.conservation.org/ or visit us on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

The Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA)
Hosted by Conservation International and the World Bank, AGWA helps decision-makers manage water sustainably over the long-term. AGWA experts collect and distribute new knowledge from development banks, the private sector, governments and non-governmental organizations. For more information visit: http://alliance4water.org/index.html

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