11.11.2011 - Natural Sciences Sector

WWAP participation in the Bonn 2011 Nexus Conference ‘Initiating integrated solutions for the Green Economy’

WWAP participation in the Bonn 2011 Nexus Conference
‘Initiating integrated solutions for the Green Economy’

The Bonn 2011 Nexus Conference  aimed to put a ‘nexus lens’ on sustainable development while focusing on better understanding the interlinkages between the three securities: water, food and energy. High-ranking decision-makers and decision-shapers from the spheres of politics, academia, the United Nations, civil society and the private sector participated in this three-day conference. The overall objective was to produce concrete outcomes in plenary sessions, workshops and cross-sectoral dialogue formats with the aim of arriving at decisions that have the potential to make a genuine difference in terms of sustainable impacts.

Conference Objectives

1.    To develop  policy recommendations based on multi-stakeholder consultations and taking a nexus perspective.
2.    To position the water, energy and food security nexus perspective as an  important dimension within the ‘Rio2012’ process as well as the Green Economy and Green Growth concepts.
3.    To launch  concrete initiatives to address the water, energy, food security nexus in a coherent and sustainable way.

Conference sustainable development action fields:
•    The social dimension: Accelerating Access, integrating the bottom of the pyramid
•    The economic dimension: Creating more with less
•    The ecologic dimension: Investing to sustain ecosystem services

WWAP participation
WWAP was invited to participate in the first of the two UN-Water panel discussions ‘Water in the development agenda’ convened by UN-Water Decade Programme on Advocacy and Communication (UNW-DPAC). Panellists included Juanita Castano, United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP); Kenza Robinson, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA); Anders Berntell, Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI); Alice Bouman: Water for Women Partnership (WfWP); Joakim Harlin, United Nations Development Porgramme (UNDP).

Olcay Unver, the WWAP Coordinator, highlighted the related key messages from the 3rd as well as the upcoming 4th editions of the World Water Development Report (WWDR) - to be launched in March 2012  - to the assembled group. Building on the main messages of the 3rd edition of the report (WWDR3), he highlighted that the WWDR4 is now taking this one step further and providing the tools for decision makers inside and outside the "water box" to ensure trade-offs and co-benefits are properly incorporated across the whole spectrum, and not only within the context of water management. He underlined that all decision makers should be informed of the availability of these, in order that the wider impacts (pressures, opportunities) and consequences of the various paths are made clear, so enabling decision-makers to plan and act accordingly.

Key messages of WWAP for the Bonn Conference:

1)    Centrality of water
The idea that water is a sector that can operate and be managed in a vacuum is one of the major barriers to progress and the WWDR4 makes a strong case against “sectorizing” water. In reality, water cuts across all social, economic and environmental activities. As such, it cannot be confined to one sector; its governance requires cooperation and coordination across diverse stakeholders and sectoral jurisdictions. Furthermore, water availability must be understood within the context of the hydrological cycle, which is influenced by multiple factors, trends, uncertainties and the associated risks that extend beyond a narrow sectoral focus. Without taking into account water’s interactions with other sectors within the energy/food/health nexus, we risk drastically losing out on many benefits and causing unintended pressures. It is vital that the overarching goal of sustainable development explicitly features water as a key component in the decision making process and properly incorporate the risks and uncertainties involved.
2)    Being green intrinsically means being water friendly
It is fundamentally impossible to be green without being water friendly. The problem arises when actions in other domains ignore or misunderstand that water underpins the entire green economy, and that without planning for good management of freshwater resources the entire movement is put at risk. Biofuels is a good example. While different sectors can be in competition over water, it is clear that all the benefits of water are required for sustainable economic development, and therefore green policy should be based on the premise that water unpins the entire green process.

Dr Unver highlighted that achieving sustainable development calls for policies that take into account not only economic but also scientific, social, educational and environmental considerations. Underlining that only this will lead to ‘green societies’, he highlighted that in addition to economic and ecological dimensions, the social and human dimensions are central factors for success, and that we must ultimately focus our efforts on building green societies through approaches that can integrate sectors and interlink processes such as the nexus perspective, and together supply concrete policy options to enable us all to engage a ‘culture’ of sustainability.
To learn more about the UN-Water panel discussions at Bonn please click here for the UNW-DPAC website

The overarching target of the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) is to inform the decision making mechanism by providing comprehensive information on the state, use and management of freshwater resources, highlighting the trends and pointing out to consequences and possible futures.
The 4th edition of the WWDR, ‘Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk’, will be launched on 12th March 2012 on the first day of the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille by UNESCO’s Director General.



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