The identification of local “champions” of integrated water resource management can do much to allow dialogue, transfer of knowledge and capacity building in the successful delivery of a project.
These “champions” can come in different forms.
There is the district catchment committee of “champions” as seen in Nakasaleka, Kadavu who have spearheaded the community nurseries and reforestation of degraded catchments. There is the multi-sectoral basin committee of “champions” in Nadi who have supported the installation of physical infrastructure, the community training and the scientific studies of Nadi River and its coastal environment to strengthen flood risk management. In the North Pacific there is the First Lady of the Republic of Marshall Islands who was named Water & Sanitation Champion at the National Water Summit held in RMI last month. She took the lead in promoting the strengthening of partnerships between local government, communities and the private sector in addressing water and sanitation issues.
These “champions” are individuals who can rally the different sections of society to work together in managing their terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems thus ensuring that everyone can enjoy water of the right quality and quantity.
For the past 10 years IUCN has worked in more than 30 countries worldwide to find practical solutions for water resource management. In Oceania the Water & Wetlands programme is implementing the Water and Nature Initiative (WANI), which is the flagship of the global Water programme. WANI has catchment management projects in Samoa and Fiji that seek to implement an ecosystem-based approach to water resource management. There is also the Mangrove Ecosystems for Climate Change Adaptation & Livelihoods (MESCAL) project, the first major project to be implemented by IUCN Oceania under the Pacific Mangrove Initiative. MESCAL also adopts an ecosystem –based approach to find stakeholder-based solutions to mangrove management challenges in the Pacific. It seeks to combine scientific and traditional knowledge to influence decision-making at all levels of governance.
Through these efforts and more we will continue to seek a coordinated approach to meet the needs of both the people and environment of the Pacific.
Dr. Milika Sobey, Coordinator - Water & Wetlands Programme, IUCN Oceania Regional Office.