Forest Trends’ former Communications Manager Anne Thiel also contributed to this post.
This Sunday marks the beginning of World Water Week 2015 in Stockholm, Sweden. Since 1991, the event has brought together experts, practitioners, policymakers, and business actors from around the world to explore critical issues around water. In that time, water stress and water scarcity have emerged as some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity. The UN estimates that by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may be living under water stressed conditions. As our global community strives to curb and adapt to climate change, it is increasingly urgent that we work together to develop innovative solutions to water challenges; World Water Week provides a crucial springboard for sharing ideas to help solve these problems.
Organizer the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) reports that in 2014 World Water Week drew over 3,000 attendees and 270 convening organizations from 143 countries. Building on that momentum, this year’s Week will continue from August 23 to 28 under the theme “Water for Development.” Forest Trends’ Water Initiative team will be on hand all week and is convening and co-convening a number of events. You can read more about each of them below:
Monday, August 24
We cannot live without water and food, and we rely on energy to get access to clean water and to produce and distribute food. Water, energy, and food are at the very essence of our and our planet’s ability to survive. If natural environments are impacted in their capacity to provide clean water, a vital link in this nexus is lost and we may have to resort to potentially costly engineered solutions to replace this link. By contrast, maintaining natural environments may offer cost-effective alternative or complementary strategies — and yet, they are rarely included in budgets for economic development. Examples from developing countries will showcase how strategies to maintain healthy environments have been particularly effective in warding off the impacts of a changing climate, pointing to solutions that warrant attention from leaders in different sectors and the financial resources to put them into practice.
Water Initiative Director Jan Cassin will participate in a panel that seeks to answer the question, how do we “scale up” green infrastructure?
(16:00-17:30): Revealing the Value of Water
Water is underpriced and undervalued. To improve the management of water, we have to develop better/more appropriate ways to measure its value – which, in turn, reflects the relationships between local stakeholders and the ecosystems they rely on. In the past few years, economic metrics to measure the value we get from water resources have become more abundantly available. This session will discuss the “state of the art” of these methodologies, present case studies, and also highlight future trends and development needs, particularly how valuing water can support social and community development.
Water Initiative Manager Gena Gammie will present a case study on “The Value of Green Infrastructure for Lima’s Water Supply,” which focuses on FT’s work with partners in Peru.
Although watershed conservation holds the power to bring about transformational benefits at the local, regional, and global levels, strategies for financing these efforts have often been short-sighted, hampered by a limited focus on a small set of hydrological benefits. This narrow scope misses the mark by neglecting the positive economic, health, and social impacts of ecosystem services on communities, especially in terms of climate change resilience. Consequently, it also limits opportunities for funding sources for these projects. But a new model for watershed finance is emerging that shows promise in addressing these limitations, by recognizing links between water, energy, and food, and by emphasizing the value of ecosystem services to human development.
Cassin and Gammie, alongside several other speakers representing diverse stakeholder perspectives, will give a series of brief presentations and facilitate discussion throughout the event.
Thursday, August 27
(14:00-15:30): Freshwater Ecosystems and Development
Freshwater ecosystems play an indispensable role in supporting human development. Yet, it is this very development that often jeopardizes the health of those ecosystems through influences like rapid land-use change, pollution, and inefficient water use. Recognizing this interdependence, this discussion focuses on tools, incentives, and approaches designed to help ensure that water stewardship and development goals are achieved in tandem.
Cassin will deliver a presentation on “Valuing Watersheds for Sustainable Development.”
A full program of events is available here. Even if you won’t be making the trip to Stockholm, you can stay informed by following the Forest Trends team on Twitter and Facebook, as well as by watching the #wwweek hashtag and following our curated Twitter list.