Submitted by guest blogger on Wed,09/18/2013

It is much more complicated to manage water than carbon and deserves more effort than simply transferring the same metrics, says James Dalton of IUCN’s Water Programme writing for Guardian Professional.

New business terms and trends come and go. Net positive impact (NPI) is one of these engaging concepts. It’s a relatively simple idea – business impacts on the environment and society need to be positive, to the point that they outweigh the negative impacts. Business should do more to reduce its impact, and not do less by just being reductionist. The question is, does it stand up to scrutiny when we consider water?

Water is our most complicated natural resource and the way business manages it must reflect this. Photo by IUCN Regional Office for West Asia

Imagine a mining company that has to remove forest to access minerals. This would negatively impact biodiversity, carbon storage, some social benefits, possibly cultural impacts, and maybe even hydrology. It would all be at the scale and context of the forest. In its simplest form, to become net positive the company would need to replace more forest than was removed. Equally, it would need to assess what cultural and social impacts had occurred, and how they would be replaced. The logic is there but from the perspective of water the mechanism of NPI has to think differently.

Pepsi in India claims to be net positive across its manufacturing sites – meaning the volume of water that goes into bottles of Pepsi. But it does not include the water footprint of its feedstock to make Pepsi – where 98% of the water is required. This means that it is net positive for around 2% of the water it takes to produce each

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Submitted by guest blogger on Mon,09/09/2013

By James Dalton of IUCN’s Water Programme, attending World Water Week.

This year’s annual World Water Week was a challenge of schedules. With more to say and with us involved in many sessions we tag-teamed presentations, speaking slots, panels and facilitation.

The week focussed on Water Cooperation – Building Partnerships, and our BRIDGE project was in full flow with our regional colleagues from Mesoamerica, Asia, and the Environmental Law Centre heavily involved. The ‘nexus’ was the word on many people’s lips as the water community struggles to work in this complex space of trade-offs between different sectoral needs and economic drivers.

For me, one of the most interesting sessions was on environmental flows. An environmental flow is the water provided within a river, wetland or coastal zone to maintain ecosystems and their benefits. The water needs of the ecosystems need to be specifically allocated to them, especially when there are competing users of the water, such as when a dam controls river flows upstream. We have just launched a new briefing on Environmental Flows: Managing Water Allocation and Trade-Offs.
Photo by Claire Warmenbol

There is always a session on eflows at the Water Week. This year we and a wide range of partners worked hard to make the session different. The feeling after the session was that we hit the nail on the head. A series of presentations pulled and pushed the concept of environmental flows around – and the full capacity audience then joined a number of discussions focussed on making eflows operational.

An inspiring presentation from Dipak Gyawali, former Minister of Water Resources for Nepal, and a member of our Nexus Reference Group, stirred the

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Submitted by guest blogger on Wed,09/04/2013

By Rebecca Welling of IUCN’s Water Programme attending World Water Week in Stockholm.

When you think about water diplomacy, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Law? Transboundary conflict? States and Ministers agreeing on pertinent issues?

For me, from a water management perspective, it was about legal frameworks, international law and States coming together to ‘shake hands’ on common issues, with the goal of signing ‘agreements’ to frame how countries should manage their water resources.

And it still is – but now I realise there’s more to it.

Working on the IUCN Water Programme’s Building River Dialogue and Governance (BRIDGE) project I’ve learned that it’s not just about these elements. Crucially, in addition to national-level dialogue, it’s also about a variety of actors, right down to the community level, coming together to build a common vision under a variety of agreements – and not just treaties at the highest levels. For agreements to work on the ground they need to have the agreement of water users themselves. Working across such a spectrum of agreements builds a practical, operational roadmap for change and improvement in water governance capacities that is closely linked to sustainable development in a basin.

This is something that all of us in the team have learned working on the BRIDGE project.

Since our Global Learning Workshop in Lima in March, we have pulled this learning together in the form of a case study series and water governance briefings. Stories from project locations in the 3S rivers (as the Sesan, Sekong and Sre Pok rivers are collectively known) in the Mekong, to the Lake Titicaca basin between Peru and Bolivia explain how BRIDGE implements water diplomacy on the ground.

And what better place is there to share these

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