Sustainable Water Future Programme - Balancing water needs for People and Nature.
The challenge of how to fairly manage water needs for both people and nature has been top of mind for researchers, Governments, and other water practitioners for quite some time. Yet, today, there remain virtually no places in the world where a high degree of water security for humans has been achieved without threatening, or degrading the environment.
Associate Professor Anik Bhaduri, Executive Director of the Sustainable Water Future Program (SWFP), paints a worrying picture for the future of global water sustainability. He predicts that unless vital knowledge gaps are filled now, and all sectors of society are engaged in a conversation on how to plan and prepare for the future, resource-efficiency, environmental sustainability and human wellbeing will be compromised.
Competition between societal needs and ecosystem demand for water will only intensify in the future,
A/Prof Anik Bhaduri
A/Prof Bhaduri presented at GWI’s first seminar series event of 2017, discussing his predictions and suggestions for human action to minimise future impacts. The SWFP, hosted by Future Earth, shows there is further need for knowledge to understand how to safeguard Earth’s life‐support system on which the welfare of current and future generations depends.
“Competition between societal needs and ecosystem demand for water will only intensify in the future,” said A/Prof Bhaduri. “At the same time, securing water for other vital human needs such as food and energy production, and safeguarding the quality and quantity of water for ecosystems, could be neglected in pursuance of only water supply and sanitation goals.”
The SWFP, hosted by Griffith University, was conceived by the Global Water Systems Project, whose major success was the acceptance that water issues are indeed "global" where previously they had been considered primarily as local issues. The Project also acknowledged that when global analyses are conducted, the cumulative picture of water dynamics in terms of water security, wastewater management, aquatic ecosystem decline, transboundary issues and impacts of climate change allows for identification of current and future 'hotspots' of concern.
With a background in environment and natural resource economics, A/Prof Bhaduri found that global water analyses have 'opened his eyes' to a vastly broader and more complex ‘water world'.
“The SWFP maximizes the value of water research in the stewardship domain, co-balancing the needs of humankind and nature through the protection of ecosystems and their services provided, offering solutions based on interdisciplinary science with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders,” said A/Prof Bhaduri.
Following his seminar presentation on Friday 10 February, A/Prof Bhaduri also participated in a roundtable discussion to engage GWI in the SWFP. Its areas of potential involvement include joining the global Working Groups, participating in relevant workshops, partnering the 'Solutions Platform' and incorporating more 'global water science' into UNSW teaching programs.