As highlighted across the SDGs, key gaps in sustainable and equitable water access require looking at what happens beyond the watershed, thinking about inclusive participatory approaches, climate-oriented actions, the macroeconomic impacts around water, and consideration for ecosystems.

To address these gaps, we have invited panelists from different geographies and professional backgrounds, from the local to the government level, to share their experiences and best practices, and discuss what could be our joint next steps to fulfill the Water Action Agenda. Focused on innovation from a cross-sector and a multi-country perspective, our panelists will be discussing the following action points:

1. Foster collaboration beyond the watershed: Sustainable water management should reach beyond the watershed, with participatory processes based not only on one location. To foster cooperation, the global community will need to consider the economies bound to the watershed on any side of a given border.

2. Maintain ecosystem health and implement the source-to-sea approach: Ecosystems should be considered throughout the water management and planning process. For this, we need approaches that incorporate ecosystem needs and processes as well as a source-to-sea approach that recognizes the links between land, freshwater and the ocean.

3. Increase knowledge sharing and inclusive decision making: Collaborative and inclusive engagement in water management delivers more effective long-term outcomes. For this, we need to enable policymakers to see not only watershed-wide water demand and supply, but also smaller-scale differences that illuminate inequalities, addressing issues of poverty, gender, and inclusion of marginalized groups.

Panel Discussion

Our invited panelists are committed to achieving SDG 6 and have partnered with SEI in previous and ongoing initiatives, such as Bolivia WATCH (WASH Thinking Connected to Hydrology, applied to three priority river basins in Bolivia—Upper La Paz, Pampa-Huari and Tupiza), Water Beyond Boundaries (with case studies in Colombia’s Magdalena-Cauca River basin and Thailand’s Lower Songkhram River, a tributary of the Mekong River), Rwanda’s hydro-economic and climate change analysis (HECCA) supported by the World Bank, USAID Regional Water and Vulnerable Environment Activity in Central Asia, SEI’s Strategy for the Ocean and Biodiversity, and ecosystem consideration in water planning and management in California. Our proposed 4 hours in-person side event will be structured with panels and discussions, followed by a reception, as follows:

Opening Remarks

Dr. Marisa Escobar, Water Program Director at the Stockholm Environment Institute (5 minutes)

Introductions

Followed by three 30-min panels and 45 minutes of discussion

Panel 1. Foster collaboration beyond the watershed (30 minutes)

Moderated by Dr. Annette Huber-Lee, Senior Scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute

Panelists:

Mr. Santi Baran, Chief Strategy and Partnership Officer at the Mekong River Commission

Dr. Emmanuel Rukundo, Director General at Rwanda Water Resources Board

Ms. Joy Busolo, Senior Water Resources Management Specialist at the World Bank

Speaker from Central Asia (TBD)

Panel 2. Maintain ecosystem health and implement the source-to-sea approach (30 minutes)

Moderated by Mr. Thanapon Piman, Senior Research Fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute

Panelists:

Mr. Grant Davis, General Manager at California’s Sonoma Water Utility, United States

Dr. Jakob Granit, Director General at the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management

Prof. Dr. Sangam Shrestha, Water and Engineering and Management at the Asian Institute of Technology

Panel 3. Increase knowledge sharing and inclusive decision-making (30 minutes)

Moderated by Ms. Cláudia Coleoni, Research Associate at the Stockholm Environment Institute

Panelists:

Mr. Fabian Caicedo, Director of Integrated Water Resources Management at Colombia’s Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development

Ms. Marissa Castro, Director General of Limits, Borders and International Transboundary Waters at Bolivia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Open discussion (45 minutes)

Closing Remarks (10 minutes)

Reception (90 minutes)

SEI’s mission is to support decision-making and induce change toward sustainable development around the world by providing integrative knowledge that bridges science, policy, and practice in the field of environment and development. We are committed to advancing with the Water Action Agenda and continuing the stakeholder dialogues across sectors, geographies, and scales beyond the UN 2023 Water Conference. Read about SEI’s commitment and Water Actions.

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