Development Dialogues at the IWA World Water Congress

IUCN is taking part in the Development Dialogues and in the Development Corner at the IWA World Water Congress in Vienna, Austria from September 8th to 12th, 2008.

International Water Association logo Photo: IWA

The Dialogues provide a key reference point for international development discussions within the framework of the Vienna Congress and feature a daily programme of discussions, details of which are provided below. Eight organizations have been invited to participate in the Corner and to prepare Dialogue sessions, ranging in type from departments of national governments, through United Nations agencies to international NGOs. The partners to the Corner are respectively: Austrian Development Agency, Department for International Development – SPLASH, Arab Countries Water Utilities Association, International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Stockholm Environment Institute – Sustainable Sanitation Alliance, United Nations Human Settlements Programme, World Health Organization, World Water Council and World Wide Fund for Nature.

IUCN Development Dialogue topics

1. Flows for People and the Environment – How to Strike a Balance
Environmental flows refer to water provided within a river, wetland or coastal zone to maintain ecosystems and their benefits where there are competing users. The dialogue will begin by focusing on understanding the importance of ensuring that the environment is included in water allocation and the processes that are needed to implement this allocation. Translating the science derived from environmental flows science into policy realities that provide water for the environment and people is a constant challenge. Although many countries stipulate that water for the environment is required, putting this into practice has proved difficult. The discussion will look for solutions to these difficulties and challenges to push the need for environmental flows from the technocratic sphere of assessment studies to implementation.

2. The Future of Water: Engineered vs. Natural Infrastructure in Adapting to Climate Change

If responding to climate change threats is needed, then how do we manage adaptation to the impacts? Is it best to apply engineered solutions or use natural infrastructure? Dams and reservoirs are still considered as the most effective structural means of risk management when it comes to peak flows. However, design criteria for new infrastructure should provide for multiple uses, including ecological requirements. In this respect, non-structural measures such as laws and policies will also play a vital role.

Adaptation measures for climate change should also invest in rehabilitating natural infrastructure to maintain essential ecosystem services that will safeguard both the environment and people from the impacts of climate change. Various approaches can be applied such as implementing environmental flows that aim to manage equitable water allocations to different users. Maintaining and restoring the buffering and storage capacity of the different elements of the watershed will help increase the resilience of human populations and should be incorporated into adaptation strategies.

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