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Exploration of a Good Water Management System for Both Human Development and Ecosystem Sustainability

IWRA 2021 Online Conference One Water, One Health
Theme 4: What are the synergies or trade-offs between ecosystem health and human health?
Author(s): Dr. ZHAO Zhongnan, Dr. Ding Wang

Dr. ZHAO Zhongnan, Dr. Ding Wang
Deputy Division Director/Senior Engineer
General Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Planning and
Design (GIWP)
Ministry of Water Resources, P. R. China

Keyword(s): Water management, SDG, sustainability, IWRM, water resources


(a) Purpose or objectives and status of study or research hypothesis
This work aimed to facilitate water management organizations and professionals to conduct better water resources management practice that contributes to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). United Nations’ The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted by all member states in 2015. The essence of this consensus is 17 SDGs, an urgent call for actions to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure equitable peace and prosperity of our societies. Among them is Goal 6, requiring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all people. This portrays an inclusive prospect that inevitably necessitates good management of every facet of the water sector.

(b) Key issue(s) or problem(s) addressed
A workable tool to achieve the ambition set in Goal 6 is probably the integrated water resources management (IWRM) approach promoted by the Global Water Partnership (GWP) in the past couple of decades. IWRM, based on GWP’s definition, is a process facilitating coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources to maximize equitably economic and social welfare with no compromise of ecosystem sustainability. It echoes another prevailing topic nowadays – water security – describing water management requirements from a result oriented perspective. IWRM, however, as a conceptual framework is far away from full development. The broad range and high expectation of IWRM’s objectives make this instrument difficult to be crafted, various to adapt different scenarios, and uncertain to handle severely jeopardized hydrologic and geographic conditions due to human activities coupled with climate change. To explore good water governance to make a stride to our 2030 global goals, this paper shares our intellectual outputs that are expected to inspire water management professionals.

(c) Methodology or approach used
Our work used the IWRM approach as a basis and incorporated newly distilled ideas. By strategically assessing the overall feature of the water sector, overarching factors crucial to shape the performance of water management were identified. Approaches corresponding to the factors were then mapped out to improve the water management system.

(d) Results and conclusions derived from the project
We suggest that an integrated and practical water management system should emphasize rigid management on the quantity, quality, and timing of water flows, as well as the riparian areas. To have these four elements well safeguarded, the system should be well designed including appropriate organizational structures, sound institutional environments, efficient monitoring and evaluation processes, and last but not least, proper water infrastructure as functional ingredients to sustain the whole system.

(e) Implications of the project relevant to selected conference theme, theory and/or practice
This work is expected to assist in advancing the water management system to achieve the SDG6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. This goal inherently requires a balanced pattern of water usage for both humans and the environment, in accord with Theme 4 of this conference.

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