June 19, 2013 | 03:24 PM (BD Time)
19 June, 2013 Wednesday
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Integrated water management with significant impact
At the request of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development a global survey has been carried out to determine progress towards sustainable management of water resources using integrated approaches.
Findings from the analysis of data from over 130 countries show that there has been widespread adoption of integrated approaches with significant impact on development and water management practices at the country level.
Agenda 21 of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 called for "the application of integrated approaches to the development, management and use of water resources" (Chapter 18). UNCED recognised the challenges of managing water resources for a multiplicity of uses and threats which are set within the much broader contexts of changes in the economic, social and political landscapes.
UN-Water was asked by the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UN CSD, at its meeting in 2005) to produce status reports on the progress of water resources management for the UN CSD meetings in 2008 and 2012. UN-Water called upon UNEP to lead a UN-Water Task Force on Water Resources Management and established a Working Group1 to prepare the present status report for submission to the UN CSD 2012, the Rio+20 conference.
The report follows an earlier UN-Water report presented to the 16th session of the CSD in 2008 which primarily took stock of the development and implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Efficiency Plans, as required in the 2002 Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPoI). The present report is more extensive, covering more countries and addressing the development, management and uses of water resources, as well as the possible outcomes and impacts of integrated approaches. It is based on a 2011 UN-Water survey sent to the governments of all UN member states and a series of complementary interviews in 30 representative countries.
The report was intended to inform decision-making at the Rio+20 conference and follow-up global policy discourses. It Was expected to facilitate information exchange to enhance the coherence and impact of national efforts to improve water resources management and related work of the UN and other external support agencies at country level.
The key messages and recommendations, based on an assessment of the findings from the survey, are as follows:
1. Since 1992, 80percent of countries have embarked on reforms to improve the enabling environment for water resources management based on the application of integrated approaches as stated in Agenda 21 and affirmed in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
2. Water-related risks and the competition for water resources are perceived by a majority of countries to have increased over the past 20 years.
3. Countries that have adopted integrated approaches report more advanced infrastructure development but further efforts are needed to ensure appropriate levels of coordination.
4. Countries report a gradual but positive trend in financing for water resources development and management with more diverse sources of finance, but little progress on payment for water resources services.
5. Countries report improvements to the institutional framework together with improved policies, laws and systems over the past 20 years. This has led to
better water resources management practices bringing important socio-economic benefits.
6. Integrated approaches to water resources management and development are critical for progress towards a green economy.
7. The survey has demonstrated the progress made with integrated approaches to water resources management as called for at the UNCED in 1992. To capitalise on this progress and ensure continuity the following target was proposed for the Rio+20 conference to consider:
By 2015, each country to develop its specific targets and timeframes for preparing and implementing a programme of action and financing strategy to take its integrated approaches to water resources management forward in accordance with UNCED 1992 and subsequent global agreements.
8 The high country response to the survey demonstrates the value of reporting and emphasizes the need for a more rigorous, evidence-based, reporting system on progress with water resources development and management. The following target was proposed for the Rio+20 conference to consider:
By 2015 a global reporting mechanism on national water resources management be established. UN-Water is committed to facilitate and coordinate this process, drawing on its existing mechanisms.
The global survey carried out in 2011 has produced a wealth of data on water resources management from a country perspective. The survey report has generated a number of specific findings that can substantially support the process for the Rio+20 Conference.
Creating the enabling environment. 82percent of countries are implementing changes to their
water laws in what has been a far-reaching outcome of Agenda 21 proposing integrated approaches for the development, management, and use of water resources. 79percent of countries report changes in their water policy, however translating policy and legal changes into implementation is a slow process.
The survey showed that 65percent of countries have developed integrated water resources management plans, as called for in the JPoI, and 34percent report an advanced stage of implementation, however, progress appears to have slowed or even regressed in low and medium HDI countries since the survey in 2008.
67percent of countries reported the inclusion of water in national/federal development planning documents.
Approximately a quarter of countries reporting on constraints noted obstacles relating to legal frameworks and strategic planning.
Applying management instruments. Progress on integrated approaches to water resources management is demonstrated by a strong correlation of the results between progress on the enabling environment of policy, law and plans and a positive impact on management practices.
Water resources assessment and monitoring systems are being implemented in over 60percent of countries. Water resources management programmes (includes allocation systems, groundwater management, environmental impact assessment, demand management among others) are being implemented in more than 84percent of the highest HDI group countries but only around 40percent of other countries.
Level of development does not seem to be a barrier to improved management of water resources. The survey shows that progress is not constrained, or guaranteed, by HDI status. While very high HDI countries tend to cluster at the top this is not an exclusive space.
Developing infrastructure. Infrastructure development is at an advanced stage in some important areas with over 65percent of countries reporting advanced implementation of water supply and hydropower infrastructure. However, fewer countries report advanced implementation for irrigation, rainwater harvesting. and investment in natural systems. The analysis of the survey demonstrated a weak positive relationship between the development of the enabling environment for an integrated approach and progress with infrastructure. However the interview reports indicated that the level of coordination in infrastructure development among sectors could be improved.
Financing for development of water resources. The responses indicate that a majority of countries report
an increasing trend in financing for water resources development and management over the last 20 years from all sources. Slightly more than 50percent of low HDI countries indicate an increasing trend for Government budgets and Official Development Assistance.
Whilst there has been some progress on raising revenues f
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