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