Submitted by guest blogger on Thu,08/27/2015

Authors: Laetitia Pettinotti (BC3), Marloes Mul (IWMI), Beatrice Mosello (ODI) and Naomi Oates (ODI)

At the Stockholm World Water Week and in the run up to the United Nations Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development goals, “water for sustainable development” is top of the international agenda. Ensuring that investments will benefit all, from national to local interests, is the challenge at hand.

Over the last decade, there has been a revived interest in large scale water resource development. The argument is that large dams for irrigation and hydropower generation can contribute to adapting to climate variability and to mitigating risks, while boosting economic growth and reducing poverty.

However the potential for ecosystem services to contribute to water management, thus for nature to perform as natural infrastructure has frequently been neglected. The key question is: how can portfolios of built and natural infrastructures support pro-poor and climate resilient development? Drawing on research from the WISE-UP to Climate project, we pose this question based on two proposed developments in the Tana and Volta River Basins.

Rural-urban water transfers in the upper Tana, Kenya

The Tana River Basin provides over 70% of Nairobi’s water supply and produces a significant proportion of the country’s hydroelectric power. Many rural households intimately depend on the river’s ecosystem services to support their livelihoods and food production - crops, fish and livestock.

Although the river is coming under increasing pressure and its catchment is being degraded rapidly, the Tana Basin is relatively water rich compared to the neighbouring Athi Basin, where Nairobi is located. To help meet growing demands, the proposed ‘Northern Water Collector Tunnel’ (NWCT) has been designed to transfer an additional 140,000m3 from the upper Tana to the capital. The project is estimated to cost 6.8 billion Kenyan shillings.

Inter-basin transfers are a means to tackle imbalances...Read more


Submitted by Claire W on Tue,08/04/2015

Did you know that the world today creates as much data in 10 minutes as in all of human history up until the year 2003? That is a lot of information. Amongst all this noise, how do environmental messages stand a chance of being heard? Or better, to have an impact and instigate change?

This interesting fact – and many others – I learned at the recent European Communications Summit in Brussels, a yearly conference organised by the European Association of Communications Directors (EACD) attracting over 700 communication professionals from around the world. The EACD had invited me to speak on the new IUCN Water infographic ‘Going with the Flow’, recently published in The Economist, along with a blog post on valuing water infrastructure services. ‘Infographics: how to speak ecology to economists’ was the title of my presentation, and I later realised this fitted perfectly with the tone and topics of the conference.

The Summit focused on ‘disruptive innovation’; the impact of game-changing developments on our work, industries, and the way we live – and how to anticipate this. “We can now safely say we live in disrupted times, when the frequency of disruptive innovation is higher than ever before”, said Herbert Heitman, EACD President.

Some of the big trailblazers in 2015 are AirBnB and Uber, in the top five of start-ups revolutionising business. For a full listing, check the CNBC Disrupter 50 List of companies whose innovations are changing the world as we know it.

No example could have illustrated this better than the news of Paris being gridlocked by angry taxi drivers over the mobile application ‘Uber’. The news was making headlines whilst Uber’s Head of Communications, Gareth Mead, was speaking. “The fear instigated by disruption can upset progress, but it can also greatly serve as a catalyst for change”,...Read more


Submitted by cristina on Fri,09/05/2014

Water and energy are two fundamentals for human development. We need energy for pumping, transporting and purifying water and we need water for food production and energy generation. An increase or decrease in one will immediately affect the other.Read more


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed,07/09/2014

WISE-UP (Water Infrastructure Solutions from Ecosystem Services) is a project that demonstrates natural infrastructure as a ‘nature-based solution’ for climate change adaptation and sustainable development.Read more


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu,06/26/2014

The 48 000 square kilometre Panagani River basin faces unique demands on its water resources. Starting high on the slopes of Mounts Kilimanjaro and Meru, the tributaries of the Pangani nourish a multitude of ecosystems before emptying into the Indian Ocean. One section of the catchment, the Eastern Arc Mountains near Kenya, is rated as one of the top 25 biodiversity hotspots in the world.

On its 500 kilometre journey, the waters of the Pangani support some 3.4 million people, many of whom live in the three urban centres of Arusha, Moshi and Pangani, but most eke out a living as subsistence crop or livestock farmers. Commercial agricultural interests are continuously growing, with high value goods being exported to various corners of the world, and three hydropower schemes, located along the main river, are used to generate up to 17 per cent of Tanzania’s electrical power. In short, the successful management of the basin’s water resources has to integrate all environmental, economic and social demands, trading their various costs and benefits against each other.

In the world of water management, an Integrated Flow Assessment (IFA) is a useful tool to inform such decision-making. It identifies the needs of each water user, including the environment, evaluates its economic value to both the basin and the nation, and balances this against the future availability of water.

We feel strongly that in a water-stressed and developing basin such as the Pangani, you can’t just consider the environmental flows without looking at the social and economic costs and benefits of this and alternative water allocation scenarios,” says IUCN Eastern Africa Regional Coordinator for Water and Wetlands, Kelly West. “Water allocation is about trade-offs. It is not a coincidence that the various aspects of our assessment coincide with the social, economic and environmental pillars...Read more


Submitted by admin on Wed,06/25/2014

Freshwater resources are under increased pressure to satisfy the needs of water users throughout the world. Since 1800 the world’s population has increased from 1 to 6 billion, but freshwater is finite.Read more


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue,06/24/2014

Water, energy and food security rely on water infrastructure. The interaction between water, energy and food production and use - the nexus - has led to new demands for water infrastructure and technology solutions.Read more


Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun,06/22/2014

IUCN Global Water Programme pioneering initiative, known as WANI (Water and Nature Initiative), worked over the past decade towards managing and protecting watersheds across 5 continents in 12 river basins. WANI worked with governments and local communities to use and manage water resources more sustainably. WANI aimed to help reduce poverty and protect the environment by helping people to access and better manage river flows.Read more


Submitted by cristina on Thu,06/19/2014

SUSTAIN-Africa is an initiative to implement Sustainable Development Goals in African growth corridors. The aim is to facilitate greening of growth that is inclusive and climate-resilient.Read more