The status quo approach to addressing challenges in water planning is Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM). In the past three decades, IWRM has had a profound impact on water planning practices but has not yielded the level of outcomes required to achieve sustainable water for all, falling short on three levels: space, time and scope. The result has been policies that can inadvertently create conflict or ignore gaps in water management.

Through three new pillars (teleconnections, early ecosystem consideration, multi interest- multi participatory approaches) applied in the Magdalena (Colombia) and Mekong (Asia) watersheds, places where SEI has a presence and has developed a strong reputation and body of work, Water Beyond Boundaries (WBB) will introduce new ways of thinking about sustainable water planning.

Our five-year vision is to respond to the central role of water in the global sustainability agendas by addressing key existing gaps in water management to set it on a more equitable and sustainable trajectory.

WBB will also have an important connection to poverty alleviation and gender and social equity. New analytical tools will enable water planners and policymakers to identify inequalities at multiple scales and dimensions of water use, to identify all stakeholders, and to consider innovative management practices that address inequalities.

SEI will identify and analyse the factors that contribute to reduced water access for women and vulnerable groups. This may include inequalities related to water rights, land ownership, and decision-making. Policies that are environmentally sustainable and equitable require a better understanding of connections beyond the watershed, inclusive participatory approaches, and the water needs of ecosystems. WBB aims to deliver that knowledge and the tools to use it.

WBB infographic: SEI