Two-thirds of the World's population will face water shortages by 2025. The World Water Forum, held in Istanbul, Turkey, from 16 to 22 March, gathers more than 25,000 experts to find sustainable solutions to the water challenges the World faces.
IUCN urges policy-makers at the forum to do more to protect the natural environment and make better use of the services nature offers for development and human security. Rivers and wetlands deliver vital services for people, such as clean drinking water, energy and healthy and sustainable livelihoods. Investing in good water governance is critical for a sustainable water future, both for countries themselves and the 260 river basins that cross borders.
“In many regions, water scarcity and pollution are increasingly putting human well-being at risk,” says Mark Smith, Head of IUCN’s Water Programme. “We have to organize ourselves to use water more sustainable. We need systems for governing water based on a balance of policy and good water law.”
Impacts of climate change, in combination with other drivers of global change, are compromising our ability to address global economic, security and social priorities.
The environment has a critical role in building resilience to climate change and reducing vulnerabilities in communities and economies. Well-functioning watersheds and intact floodplains and coasts provide water storage, flood control and coastal defence. They are ‘natural infrastructure’ for adaptation.
Reducing vulnerability to climate change requires a combination of reduced exposure to hazards, reduced sensitivity to their effects and increased adaptive capacity. In each case, the environment, its natural infrastructure and related institutions and governance have key roles to play.
In Africa, the African Ministerial Conference of Water (AMCOW) has approved a Regional paper, elaborated through a long participatory preparation process to the World Water Forum. This Regional paper has been launched at the Africa Day to bring to the attention of the international community the high level political commitments made in 2008 and foster partnership for implementation in bridging the water divide in Africa. (See http://www.worldwaterforum5.org/index.php?id=1896)
Today IUCN has launched two new WANI toolkits for Water management and governance. Share is about cooperation over shared rivers. “Governments must realize that river basins, not national borders are the boundaries around which effective water management must be drawn says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN’s Director General.” Rule aims at contributing to “greening” water governance; in other words, to provide for the incorporation of environmental considerations into water policies, laws and institutions.