Submitted by Mark Smith on Tue,03/22/2016

What does it take to include nature in investment porfolios to improve water security? Renat Heuberger, CEO of the South Pole Group, and Mark Smith, Director of the IUCN Global Water Programme, explore the options.Read more


Submitted by guest blogger on Sat,03/19/2016

By Aaron Reuben of IUCN’s Forest and Climate Change Programme.

In late 2014 I attended a panel discussion on national infrastructure for improved water supplies. This was part of the ACES (A Community on Ecosystem Services) conference on Ecosystem Markets in Washington, DC. From the presentations and discussions, it emerged that there are three key ways to increase investment in natural infrastructure – ecosystems such as river basins, forests and wetlands which, together with ‘built infrastructure,’ are critical to maintaining water supply.Read more


Submitted by guest blogger on Tue,12/15/2015

By Giulio Boccaletti and Lynn Scarlett of The Nature Conservancy, an IUCN member.

While the negotiations at the UN climate conference (COP21) in Paris have been deemed successful on many fronts, we are already witnessing the impacts of climate change on our most critical resource – water.Read more


Submitted by James Dalton on Tue,10/27/2015

By James Dalton of IUCN’s Water Programme.

Around 40% of the world’s population lives in river basins that span two or more countries. These transboundary water systems include over 445 aquifers, more than 1,600 lakes and reservoirs, and 286 rivers. They are fundamental to the well-being of societies in terms of healthy people, healthy nature, and economic wealth. Yet population growth, climate change and a host of other threats are putting enormous pressure on these critical resources with far-reaching ramifications.Read more


Submitted by guest blogger on Sat,10/24/2015

By Vanja Westerberg of IUCN’s Global Economics and Social Science Programme.

Kicking off the recent 16th annual Biodiversity and Economics for Conservation (BIOECON) 2014 conference, keynote speaker, Professor Salzman, took us through a fascinating history of drinking water, showing the way in which societies have attempted to supply it in time and space. But for whom, in what quantity, when and at what price, if any, should potable water be supplied?Read more


Submitted by guest blogger on Mon,09/21/2015

By Jerome Koundouno of IUCN’s Office for West and Central Africa.

The recent Stockholm World Water Week provided plenty of opportunities to explore the links between water and land rights, and the importance of these rights for ensuring sustainable development at both local and national level.

This was my second time at World Water Week. As regional coordinator of the Global Water Initiative (GWI) in West Africa, based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, I travelled to Stockholm with colleagues from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and partners from Mali and Senegal.

‘Water for development’, the theme that set the scene for this year’s conference, made the link with two big events on development and climate: the Sustainable Development Summit taking place next week in New York and the UN climate change conference in Paris in December. As a result, many of the sessions and workshops were about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how to ensure water is thoroughly integrated into the expected climate agreement.

This year’s theme fitted particularly well with our GWI work in West Africa on how to make large water infrastructure – especially dams and irrigation schemes – better in terms of benefit sharing and food security for local people. We presented a side event ‘Toward economically viable and socially just dams in West Africa’ in collaboration with representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Initiative Prospective Agricole et Rurale (IPAR, a Senegalese think tank) and local communities of the Niger River Basin.

Women working in irrigated rice fields in Bagre, Burkina Faso © Global Water Initiative

Women working in irrigated rice fields in Bagre, Burkina Faso © Global Water Initiative

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Submitted by Isabelle Fauconnier on Fri,05/01/2015

By Isabelle Fauconnier, Water Policy and Sustainability Adviser, IUCN Global Water Programme.

As I reflect on the rich sessions of the recent 7th World Water Forum, I feel buoyed by the stimulating challenges that water management offers us but also curious as to how we – the global water community of practice and beyond – will actually tackle these in the coming years. For example, there is now a consensus that water-food-energy ‘Nexus’ thinking and transboundary water cooperation are each good ideas. These are two complex propositions that share a common obstacle: they are not easy to implement. Yet in many shared basins, as we move from policy talk to action on the ground, we must often overlay and take on these two very challenges.

We at IUCN, along with others, have made the case that nature is a solution for water, and not just a competing use for water. Ecosystems, as natural infrastructure, perform vital functions like water storage by forest soils and wetlands, soil nutrient cycling for food production, water purification, and more. In turn, it is healthy ecosystems that provide a key input, water, for the production of food and energy, and for human consumption. So if ecosystem functions are depleted, energy and food production and basic human water needs will suffer considerable losses.

Shutterstock SJ Travel

Healthy river basins – healthy water supplies © Shutterstock SJ Travel

The tricky thing is that because ecosystems don’t follow political boundaries, they are often a shared resource between neighbouring countries. And in both transboundary and national river basins, they are a shared resource among user groups across food, energy and other economic sectors. So what will propel stakeholders – be they countries, basin institutions, user groups,

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Submitted by guest blogger on Fri,04/17/2015

Raphaël Glémet, Senior Programme Officer for Water and Wetlands within IUCN’s Asia Regional Office, talks to us about his passion for all things water, and shares his excitement about innovative approaches to transboundary water governance.

Yesterday was our third day in Daegu, and the World Water Forum is now in full swing. I’m happy to be here to immerse myself in the incredible opportunities to learn and to share what every day provides.

While trying to build a summary of my day for the blog I soon realised that a lot of the talks here actually go way beyond water-related topics. The topics are so diverse, so cross-cutting, that on occasion I’ve almost forgotten that I’m at a forum about water and not at one of the big meetings on climate change, food production, energy, international diplomacy, the economy or biodiversity conservation. The attendee list is just as varied as the topics covered, with participants stemming from various backgrounds, including ministries of environment, foreign affairs, energy and agriculture. In addition, there are numerous representatives from international and local NGOs and the private sector.

Don’t get me wrong, the forum is targeted, professional and there is an ocean of water-related knowledge to absorb, but I think the real magic here is how water topics have the capacity to overcome boundaries, to traverse levels and to embrace environmental, political, economic and societal issues as a whole.

Throughout my career I have always been fascinated by rivers especially for this reason, for their capacity to federate, to gather and merge interests, and to connect countries, communities and other stakeholders. This week I’ve had the opportunity to introduce the BRIDGE (Building River Dialogue and Governance) project facilitated by IUCN, and again this goes

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Submitted by guest blogger on Tue,04/14/2015

IUCN representatives are currently taking part in the 7th World Water Forum in the Republic of Korea. Marcello Rocca, Communications Officer for the Water and Wetlands Programme within IUCN’s Central and West Africa office, reports back on his experience of this important event so far.

What are IUCN’s interventions in the water sector?” This simple question came from a Cambodian forty-year-old man who came to talk to me at the IUCN stand. The World Water Forum is an opportunity to present our activities in water governance and wetlands conservation. During the discussion my interlocutor had the opportunity to learn that I work in IUCN’s Central and West Africa office, and he seemed very interested in the partnership approach we adopt to implement integrated, cross-border water management, and in the results we have achieved. In turn, I was surprised to find that the problems he encounters in his work are similar to those I have experienced, and I asked him many questions in order to try to understand what solutions he adopts to achieve satisfactory long-term results. We parted ways after exchanging business cards and promising to keep in touch.

The 7th World Water Forum officially started on Sunday with the opening ceremony. Experts from numerous countries passed by the stands. Voices from Niger, the Mekong, the Rhine and the Mississippi all mixed; groups of people from various backgrounds shared their experiences and discussed possible future collaboration.

Fishing in the Mekong

Fishing in the Mekong

“It is not the pearls that make the necklace but the wire.”

Everyone is aware of the importance of this forum and the need to act together to ensure participatory and sustainable water management.

We are using our participation

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Submitted by guest blogger on Mon,02/02/2015

By Dr Christopher Briggs, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

World Wetlands Day, 2 February, celebrated around the world, came out of a desire to help more people learn about these incredible ecosystems and how we can help protect them. Led by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, that now includes 168 contracting parties, the overarching goal of World Wetlands Day is awareness and education, helping people to understand what constitutes a wetland and their vital role in our lives.

Most importantly, wetlands are the source of our daily water. They are also home to over 100,000 freshwater species and essential to bird life, breeding and migration.

 IUCN Bangladesh

Fishing season in the Tanguar Haor wetlands of Bangladesh. Photo: IUCN Bangladesh

Wetlands play other crucial roles too:

Wetlands feed humanity: rice, grown in wetland paddies, is the staple diet of nearly three billion people. The average human consumes 19 kilogrammes of fish each year. And most of the fish sold breed and raise their young in coastal waters and estuaries. Moreover, 70% of all fresh water extracted globally is used for crop irrigation.

Wetlands purify and filter harmful waste from water, helping to absorb harmful fertilizers and pesticides, as well as heavy metals and toxins from industry. As an example, the Nakivubo Swamp in Kampala, Uganda, filters sewage and industrial effluents for free; a treatment plant to do the same job would cost US$ 2 million per year.

Wetlands act as nature’s shock absorbers: peatlands and wet grasslands in river basins act as natural sponges, absorbing rainfall, creating wide surface pools that ease any flooding in rivers. The same storage capacity will also safeguard against the impact of drought.

Wetlands provide sustainable

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