Water can

Photo: Unsplash

  • Q

    What makes this initiative so important and timely?

    A

    Marisa Escobar: Today, more than ever, water supply and hygiene should be at the heart of social and environmental development strategies. Our societies’ capacity to move forward will depend on achieving sustainable water solutions for all. This new initiative aims to fill some key gaps to achieving water security: multi-scale analysis, early consideration of ecosystems, and inclusive stakeholder engagement.

    Héctor Angarita: When it comes to multi-scale analysis, the frames of reference of decision making in water management must recognize increasing regional and global teleconnections. Both the drivers and the impacts of decisions on water management go beyond boundaries like watersheds, countries and even regions, and so must our thinking.

  • Q

    Why the focus on these three pillars – multi-scale analysis, ecosystems thinking and more inclusive stakeholder engagement?

    A

    ME: Water planning is happening in many places around the world. Many countries are making sure that priority regions are generating water plans – and that is great progress. However, those planning efforts tend to be very localized in their scope, and not to consider the central role of ecosystems. We will enrich water planning by connecting it to global processes and by adding the voices of those that have long being ignored when designing water solutions – including women, marginalized groups, the poor and non-human actors.

  • Q

    Why have the Mekong and Magdalena basins been selected as case studies?

    A

    ME: It has to do a lot with the location of our SEI centres. We have a legacy of work, data and enduring partnerships in both of these basins, and these will be invaluable for testing and applying new methods for inclusive water security.

    HA: Also, these basins are important not just nationally but also internationally. For instance, the Magdalena River basin covers almost a quarter of the national territory of Colombia and provides water for almost 36 million people (75% of the Colombian population). It is critical for the supply of water not just for human and animal consumption, but also for production of biomass (food, biofuels, fibre and wood products) and electricity. Three-quarters of Colombia’s agricultural production is found within this basin. Furthermore, the Magdalena basin is globally connected through the trade in agricultural and energy products that make intensive use of water.

Learn more about the initiative

WBB will prepare vulnerable communities to increase water security. Photo: Getty Images.

  • Q

    Could what you learn in this initiative be applied to other countries and regions?

     

    A

    ME: Yes, of course. Once we have applied and tested new approaches in these two basins, we will introduce them in our work with partners elsewhere. Some likely places for follow-on work will be California and Bolivia. We also envisage sharing methods and tools through engagement with global actors, so the learning and knowledge can be available to all.

    HA: Also, innovations from Water Beyond Boundaries will be incorporated into SEI’s flagship WEAP (Water Evaluation and Planning) tool, allowing its large, global user base of practitioners to access and deploy them.