Bonn Water Network: Addressing Water as a Crosscutting Element of the SDGs

  • 2021/02/12     Dresden, Germany

    Image: Unsplash/Karolina Nichitin

    The final session of the International Water Colloquium featured panellists from the Bonn Water Network.

    By Raghid Shehayeb

    The final session of the Colloquium hosted panellists from the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), Deutsche Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), Geographisches Institut Universität Bonn (GIUB), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), United Nations University – Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS), and Center for Development Research (ZEF) on the topic “Bonn Water Network – Addressing water as a crosscutting element of the Sustainable Development Goals”. The session took place virtually on 16 December 2020 with over 120 participants.

    Image credit: Leigh Prather/shutterstock

    The International Water Colloquium, organised by UNU-FLORES, the University of Bonn, and TU Dresden, addresses the topic “Cooperation in Water Management – Tackling a Global Challenge”. UN institutions, alongside their local partners, share their experiences about collaborative water-related projects and activities, highlighting the need for cooperation within the water management. The series running from 4 November to 16 December 2020 aims to foster collective knowledge development and further possibilities for cooperation.

    After the opening words of Prof. Ronald Tetzlaff (Chief Officer Technology Transfer and Internationalisation, TU Dresden) highlighting the need for cooperation to solve water-related challenges, Dr Annabelle Houdret (DIE) briefly introduced the Bonn Water Network and handed over to Dr Srinivasa Srigiri (DIE). Dr Srigiri presented the interlinkages, tradeoffs, and synergies for policy design in relation to SDG6, which was found to have the highest number of potential synergies with other SDGs. One of the key findings from a case study on the Awash basin in Ethiopia is that the vertical (multi-level) and horizontal (multi-sector) coordination is limited, which creates high tradeoffs between SDGs.

    In the second part of the session, Dr Houdret moderated a discussion about interlinkages between the water-related and other SDGs backed by practical examples provided by the speakers. Prof. Mariele Evers (GIUB) highlighted the collaborative modelling concept, where stakeholder management is supported by modelling and communication tools. Dr Yvonne Walz (UNU-EHS) showcased the role of water management in disaster risk management as key for sustainable development. Dr Walz referred to the WANDEL project in Brazil, where water-related energy sources such sugar cane and hydropower were studied in terms of the risk of increased water scarcity and possibilities for efficient water usage in energy production.

    After that, Dr Birgit Kemmerling (DIE) explained the water, land, and agriculture interdependencies and their circular management within the I-WALAMAR project in Morocco relating to SDG2, 6, and 15. Dr Daniel Tsegai (UNCCD) later indicated the need for an effective science-policy interface that allows contribution from science to policymaking and vice versa in addition to creating a common space for both. Dr Luna Bharati (ZEF/IWMI) concluded the discussion round by demonstrating how extreme water events and variations resulting from climate change are intensified due to the interlinkages of water with other sectors; at the same time, water also creates opportunities for climate change adaptation.

    The panellists answered several questions from the audience related to the inclusion of stakeholders, evaluating project impact, cooperation between policymakers, and the dimensions considered in risk assessment. A noteworthy point raised was that evaluating project impact should start from the project design phase by including stakeholders and continue throughout the project. A follow-up with the stakeholders helps in understanding the challenges in implementation and is a means for generating further research questions.