Submitted by James Dalton on Tue,05/05/2015

This year the focus of the 7th World Water Forum was on implementation – something everyone strives for but which can become forgotten at events often more intent on policy debate. Implementation of better water management has to scale-up to reach ambitious Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets, and solve problems quicker than they accumulate. Reflecting the cross-cutting nature of water in society and in the economy, the Forum brought together a diverse range of stakeholders – from engineers to conservationists, from financers to farmers, from local government to Parliamentarians and Ministers.

A clear subject in the thematic events was natural or green infrastructure. Natural infrastructure is by design, nature for development and development for nature. It recognises the intrinsic links between environment, people, and economy. It speaks to many communities-of-practice and their multiple policy objectives and indicators. It goes beyond carbon mitigation to include mitigating the current practical problems that exist – to highlight that natural systems are a sensible and attractive place to invest when you are trying to reduce flooding, build water security, grow food, conserve habitats and species, grow industry, provide livelihoods and employment, and store carbon. Sessions on natural infrastructure ranged from business investing in natural infrastructure to disaster risk reduction interventions, from community scale to city scale, and watershed protection by utilities who recognise the need to protect ‘upstream’, to give everyone enough water ‘downstream’. Sounds simple right?  Yet getting to collective implementation is a challenge.

We were able to sit with our co-authors, UNEP-DHIThe Nature Conservancy (TNC) and World Resources Institute (WRI) to discuss the further development of our Green infrastructure Guide, and were joined byForest Trends and Wetlands International to look at learning and scaling-up our knowledge with others. OurWISE-UP programme is currently looking at how natural infrastructure can support low carbon pathways for...Read more


Submitted by James Dalton on Fri,06/27/2014

Flooding is the most common hydrological hazard – with global economic losses from floods averaging US$3 billion a year, predicted to become US$1 trillion a year by 2050. Over the last 100 years they have also been the most fatal disasters, ruining families, communities, and at times, setting back national development and progress.

A recent study suggests that the annual cost of flooding across Europe could become €23.5 billion by 2050. At current prices this represents more than the annual GDP of 93 countries. And in reality, it’s an insurance bill. It is an astounding number given the human, financial, and technical capacity that exists across Europe. Two-thirds of these total costs are due to socio-economic growth – we have as a continent more people living in flood-prone areas, and everyone has more to lose because of higher incomes.

It’s a point echoed by Lord Smith, Chairman of the UK Environment Agency following the devastating floods in the UK this winter and spring. ‘Think about the risk that your property faces’ he said. Not an easy task if you have little choice where you live, but equally it’s a logical question. Ten years ago we bought a house in the UK, but only after my wife, who worked for the Environment Agency at the time, had checked out the online flood risk maps.

The Environment Agency (EA) has come under a lot of pressure in the UK for how it deals with protection from flooding. Critics – understandably those immediately affected, sometimes disastrously – have voiced their anger at the lack of river dredging and protection, a lack of finance available for the EA to ‘do their job’. It has also provided a political platform, with the Environment Secretary and Communities Secretary both venting steam – calling the lack of...Read more