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 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,

...Read more