Monthly Archives: November 2015

Water Security and Regional Cooperation

The notion of water security has gained considerable support in the international policy circles during the past few years. Many reports (e.g., including the 2012 ICA report on Water Security published by the US intelligence community) point to the challenges associated with the lack of water security, which if not addressed properly could lead to unraveling of societies and countries. Many regions in the world have been identified as under increasing level of threat to water security as a result of grossly modified water cycles through climate change, increasing demands emerging from a range of water consumers, degrading water quality as a result of anthropogenic activities, and perhaps most importantly, lack of adequate institutional and human capacity to respond to water threats.


The work undertaken by UN-Water, a coordination mechanism among 32 United Nations organizations and 37 international water associations and organization – has pushed the level of understanding around the notion of water security. A key achievement has been arriving at consensus on a working definition: Water Security is the capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being, and socio-economic development, for ensuring protection against water-borne pollution and water related disasters, and for preserving ecosystems in a climate of peace and political stability. This definition captures the multi-dimensional nature of water security.


Achieving water security in a regional context, particularly when water bodies and systems are shared across national boundaries, remains a major challenge. In such situations, water security challenges are further compounded by the need to ensure coordination and dialogue between sovereign states, each with its own set of varied and sometimes competing demands for water resources. The geographic scale of regional water security is enormous, considering that there are about 276 transboundary basins and more than 300 transboundary aquifers. Economic and social development in these contexts is often delicately balanced to avoid adverse impacts like fragmentation of river systems, aquatic ecosystems deterioration, and loss of sustainable fisheries. The latter is linked to livelihoods and food security for many communities.


A number of successes in regional water security can be cited. For example, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) coordinates transboundary water cooperation on 15 basins across Southern Africa. In Southeast Asia, the Mekong River Commission has decades of cooperation on river basin management among the lower Mekong countries. In Europe, degrading water quality and transboundary pollution prompted a move towards greater cooperation on the Danube River Basin. In Latin America, transboundary cooperation has taken place over hydro-electric development on the Paraná River between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. International watercourses, particularly when supported by international instruments such as the 1997 UN Watercourses Convention and the 1992 UNECE Convention, can help to alleviate increased incidents of water insecurity as a result of the pursuit of sovereign interests that may threaten regional peace and security.


This session will undertake a review of key aspects of regional water security, as follows:


  • Ecosystem protection in a regional (and basin-wide) context
  • Legal and international law dimensions of water security, including the UN Conventions
  • Linking water, food, and energy security to develop new dialogues in a transboundary context
  • Water security as a determinant of regional peace and political stability
  • Regional cooperation opportunities – including sharing of resources, trade and commerce, and track II diplomacy – offered through water security
  • The role of non-state actors in achieving regional water security



Sustaining environmental flows for water, food, and energy security

The environment needs to be protected in any water allocation scheme or we destroy the foundation of our whole life. That of course will destroy the economy in a short or longer time frame .
This session with examine regimes to protect the environment at the scars of short and liner term and of course at different spatial scales .
The key note presentation will examine the regimes that exist in Australia and the concept of consumptive pool. Details of the implementation issues will be provided  and the strength of the legal mechanisms.
The panel will cone up with suggestions to assist the decision makers

Capacity development Networks for improved water security and productivity

The world today confronts a water crisis with critical implications for peace, political stability and economic development. Starting to manage water resources more effectively and efficiently will enable humanity to better respond to today’s problems and to the surprises and troubles expected in a warming world. Water flows through the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. It is inextricably linked to climate change, agriculture, food security and is essential for achieving many of the future development targets.


The sustainable management of water resources is becoming more urgent than ever as several global trends collide.  In developing countries, growing populations are increasing demand for water to produce essential commodities like food and energy.  Higher rates of urbanisation fuel demand for water for domestic and industrial uses, putting stress on existing raw water sources.


The United Nations Summit in September 2015, adopted a new development agenda entitled “Transforming our World by 2030 – a New Agenda for Global Action”, a historic agreement on a comprehensive and far-reaching set of universal goals and targets (hereinafter abbreviated as SDGs).  If these are realized (17 goals and 169 targets), they will transform for a better world and renewed determination to take bold and transformative steps needed to shift the world on to a sustainable path. For the goals to be achieved, time and resources needs to be allocated for capacity development of present and future decision makers as well as for enhancing awareness towards the world we want.


Improved governance of water services and water resources remain at the heart of the struggle for sustainable human development, growth and poverty reduction.  Governance of water resources and water services is distributed across many sectors and formal and informal institutions.  This complexity of water decision-making, many times combined with institutional fragmentation, heightens the risks of discrimination, unequal access to water resources and services, and corruption.


At the core of improved water governance and attainment of the SDGs (means of implementation) lies the need for capacity development at individual and institutional levels.  Capacity development – the process through which individuals, organizations and societies obtain, strengthen and maintain the capabilities to set and achieve their own development objectives over time – is an effective way to improve water resources management.  Capacity development must bring about transformation that is generated and sustained over time.


The SDGs also call on strengthening resources mobilisation and partnership revitalisation for sustainable development (Goal 17).  Under this goal, target 17.9 is formulated as: : “Enhance international support for implementing effective and targeted capacity-building in developing countries to support national plans to implement all the sustainable development goals, including through North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation”. This raises questions about the mobilisation of existing structures for the realisation of the goals. This session provides a closer look at capacity development in a networking and partnership environment to enhance effectiveness of capacity development initiatives. It will also address new education technologies that make it possible to share information and knowledge, both in terms of methodologies for teaching and learning, and in contents.

0 – 15                     Opening

15 – 35                   Keynote – Joakim Harlin – Capacity development and networking for improved water governance and social inclusion – preparedness for the SDGs in an integrated approach

35 – 55                   Case presentation – a network member – advantages and impediments of water capacity development in networking mode

55 – 80                  Innovative learning for educating (young) water professionals

  • Virtual learning – Themba Gumbo
  • Aqua Republica – a serious game for school water education – Kees Leendertse

80 – 140                Panel – facilitated by Maria do Carmo Zinato

  • Themba Gumbo
  • Joakim Harlin
  • Eiman Karar
  • Miguel Solanes
  • Yvonilde …
  • Pablo LLoret

140-150                Closure (15 mins)

National development planning and implications of defined priority water uses

  1. National development planning and implications of defined priority water uses and Institutional reforms needed for a water secure future
    1. Alignment between different sectors and different levels
    2. Defining development imperatives in water decisions
    3. Stakeholders engagements in water plans
    4. Planning and climate change
    5. Prioritizing water allocations


Water is part of broader social, political and economic developments and is thus also affected by decisions outside of the water sector. However the importance of national plans is to ensure that water as a catalyst for development and for addressing equity and increasing access to water.

Many countries are grappling with the challenges of low economic growth, high levels of unemployment, service delivery challenge. It is indeed believed that water can act as the catalyst for supporting the achievement of countrys’ socio economic objectives. However, institutions responsible for managing water resources should ensure that their operations and development align with the country’s macro-development strategies and sectoral priorities and it is therefore important to take stock of the water sector to determine how well aligned the water sector is to broader strategic agenda for the country in terms of expanding, improving and  maintaining infrastructure such as houses, roads, rail networks, health facilities, etc. Such national priorities must be planned and achieved without forfeiting environmental sustainability. In order for organisations or for sectors to function effectively, it is critical that all stakeholders are working towards the same goal and are generally pulling in the same direction.


In addition, the effective planning of the components, through effective management of these components, reduces the possibility of developing a silo mentality when planning. The provision of tools at both a district and municipal level would provide an opportunity for redressing a past and very dysfunctional and inequitable space economy. It would also offer a guide for investment decisions to achieve more sustainable human settlements.


Water resources can only sustainably cater for all the water uses if effective planning takes place; In this regard, it will be important in this session to;

  • Debate how the allocation of water can be optimised to meet the socio-economic needs of the country.
  • some hard choices and considerations for reallocating water to those sectors that yield the greatest benefit to the country.
  • It is acknowledged that these decisions should ideally be made by water users at basin scale but given the relative capacity of water users, it is unlikely that significant allocation reform can be driven at that level. Hence it is pertinent to look at the ideal scale for such macro-plans and for national priorities to be identified.
  • countries cannot continue to augment water resources perpetually and despite the recent focus on demand side management; there is still a very strong supply side mentality that permeates through.

The focus of the session will be on areas where there is scarcity ie; there is not enough water to satisfy all the demands; closed basins for any further allocations. The session will be made of country case studies of good practice to be followed by a panel discussion around any of the issues stated above.

National development planning and implications of defined priority water uses and Institutional reforms needed for a water secure future

Dialogue on Water Governance (DWG)  (90 minutes)

Chair: Stanley Liphadzi (WRC)
Time Topic Speaker
  Welcome and introductions Chair
15 min mis…Alignment in national water and development plans Eiman Karar WRC South Africa
15 min National Planning in LAC Axel Dourojeanni, water manager; LAC region
15 min National Planning in Brazil (tbc) Paulo Afonso Romano Director at Forum of the Future, Brazil
15 min National Planning in Mexico (tbc) Ricardo Sandoval Minero – Centro del Agua, Director of Center for Water Management Decision Making, Monterrey, Mexico
30 min Panel Discussion;

presenters and

Alberto Palombo; Secretary,  Inter-American Water Resources Network (IWRN)

Jennifer McKay; University of South Australia; Australia

José Roberto Lima – Center for Management and Strategic Studies – CGEE – Brasilia, Brasil (tbc)

Yali Woyessa; Head: Department of Civil Engineering; Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologywatch full Alien: Covenant movie

Central University of Technology, Free State; South Africa


  Summary and concluding remarks Chair


Equity, water and secure tenure in water allocations

This workshop will reflect on the role of tenure in water governance and security. It will build on the work undertaken in a proof of concept study for FAO (2014) where the concept was tested in three countries that have semi-arid conditions: Spain, South Africa and India. In Fortaleza with a special emphasis will be given to establish a dialogue with the experience in the Latin American region.


Tenure arrangements determine how people, communities and organizations gain access to the use of natural resources (Hogson, 2015). In particular water tenure is defined as ‘the relationship, whether legally or customarily defined people, as individuals or groups, with respect to water resources’. The main focus in this workshop is to see how tenure (both land and water) can provide a useful platform for addressing the main world’s water resources challenges. In particular the issue of water and equity of water to ensure a secure future in scarcity conditions and increased competition on the resource.The Discovery film


Under increased conditions of water scarcity triggered on the one hand by increased competition for water resources and on the other, uncertainty due to increased hydrological variability and extreme events due to effects of climate change much more pressure will be put on the security of tenure, as well as current and future winners and losers. Thus equity and tenure become central to the discussion.


The added value -as seen from the preliminary results from the analysis of tenure – is that it offers a new platform for discussion. It focuses on the evolving relationship of people with water, which brings onto the table all uses, including some normally excluded like informal use or the issue of environmental flows. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the current allocation system while considering future trends like population growth, the need for human development, the uncertainty of climate change changing the resource base or the importance of criteria like equity in decisions made by e.g. public bodies which often capacity and governance issues to take clear decisions or to follow up with the implementation of roles and rules. In addition, tenure is closely related and yet not the same as rights. It starts from the premise that tenure is a social relationship which can be formalized into law or not. Thus it recognizes evolving social relationships created under both formal and customary law.


The role of tenure in water governance, particularly in semi-arid contexts will be explored giving special attention to:

  • Discuss how we can have flexible arrangements for water allocations to cope with evolving social needs and priorities, while at the same time providing a secure resource base
  • How do we speed up a more equitable access and use of water to empower women?.
  • What criteria and implementation tools are available in the context of new rival uses particularly under conditions of scarcity and extreme events?.
  • How can we focus on the micro scale equity issues i.e. users at basin scale? Can tenure provide a lens to understand drivers and intervention points to speed up and generate more equitable outcomes?
  • How do we include the environment into the equity frame when there are so many short term pressures and no proper costing of environmental externalities? Does tenure add value to this debate?

The focus of the session will be particularly focused in areas which are already facing water scarcity and there is a need to make clear allocation choices. The session will be made of reflecting on tenure and equity issues in a number of countries; South Africa, Spain, India, Australia and Brazil through short pitch style presentations followed by a dialogue on main issues.

The role of water pricing in achieving equity and water security

  • Balancing efficiency and equity aspects of water security
  • Considering the governance situation when discussing water pricing
  • Technical challenges to water pricing reforms

Physical water scarcity is now experienced more often than before, in many locations around the globe, which has renewed the calls for increased efficiency in water use. Raising the price of water is often suggested as a powerful incentive to make water users save on water. A number of places also experience so called economic water scarcity, where it is a lack of functioning infrastructure and not lack of water resources that result in unmet demand. In these places, increased financing can be a useful part of the solution, which can be achieved through cost-recovery from water users.


Thus, in several ways, water pricing can be used to achieve water security. Both lower water withdrawals and increased investments in infrastructure would safeguard sustainable access to water. Lower water withdrawals would also help preserve aquatic ecosystems, while the infrastructure investments would help to ensure protection from water-borne diseases and water-related disasters. Water security can in certain respects be seen as the opposite of water scarcity.


Reforming a water pricing regime or introducing new water prices can however be a challenging task.King Arthur: Legend of the Sword film

It may be difficult to gain acceptance for increased prices, if an improved service or benefit is not tangible in the short term. It might not be obvious how to best design a new pricing instrument, but a need for adjustments may appear after some years. And if water security is meant to prevail for all groups in society, then not only efficient, but also equitable water use needs to be achieved.  It may not be reasonable to make everyone save on water, in particular households who only use water for their most basic needs. Further, the role of water for socio-economic development needs to be determined, in order to decide for which water users affordability concerns shall be considered (these could be low-income households, small-scale farmers, emerging industries or others).


Technical challenges may also be part of the picture. For instance, water meters are required if water prices shall have an effect on the volume consumed. Also, to estimate the scarcity value of water, the value of leaving water in the ecosystem needs first to be determined.

The detailled schedule of the section:

8:45 Introduction, chair person Eiman Karar, Water Research Commission in South Africa

8:50 Tarificación de servicios de agua y saneamiento – la experiencia de Chile, Humberto Peña

9:10 Water Pricing, Poverty and Equity – Scanning for linkages in Southern Africa, Johanna Sjödin, Stockholm International Water Institute

9:30 Pricing the priceless: valuing water for policy, Viju James, IDS Jaipur

9:50 Reflections on the previous presentations and the role of water pricing for equity and water security – the perspective of Brazil,
Marcos Freitas, water resources specialist, ANA, Brazil

10:10 Summary (and invitation to evaluate the session), Eiman Karar, Water Research Commission in South Africa

10:15 Questions and Answers (interaction with the audience)

10:30 End of session