Safeguarding water resources for human and environmental needs is one of the major concerns globally. This challenge is aggravated by the volatile geopolitical environment, changes in demography, increasing urbanization and climatic variability, and other drivers associated with globalization. With more than half of the global GDP at stake due to water stress by 2050, the episodes of conflict, insecurity, migration are expected to increase; hence retaining peace and sustainability emerges as a key international priority, which also has implications for water resources management. These implications include, but are not limited to i) tradeoffs in inter-sectoral water allocation, ii) finding solutions to complexities in transboundary water management; iii) the need to alleviate pressures on freshwater ecosystems; iv) the need to understand and quantify reasons, trends, and impacts of water-driven migration, v) the need to resolve water-energy-food nexus in specific geographical settings, etc. The concept that bundles many of such challenges together is known as” Water security’ (WS). UN-Water (2013) framework of WS includes various aspects of the water nexus: drinking water, ecosystems, climate change, water supply for food and energy production, governance, transboundary cooperation, political stability, and financing. It is expected that integrated thinking in terms of water security can give decision makers a practical approach to develop/plan effective policies, programs, and investments that address all socio-economic aspects of water for sustainable development.
Water security, the reliable availability of an acceptable quantity and quality of water for health, livelihoods, and production, coupled with an acceptable level of water-related risks – is an emerging concept and challenge to be addressed, along with growing food security concerns. This project will address a focused approach on unpacking the larger water security nexus. Assessing key gaps and identifying needs to take steps toward improving the global Water Security requires a clear understanding of the drivers, trends, and patterns of collective action and the newer dimensions that form the Water Security nexus [including human migration/displacement issues,nature-based solutions (NAS) -green infrastructure]. Noting that, water secure societies would ensure better management of water crisis situations, in regular and critical times and in emerging and developing economies, the key goals of the project include examination and synthesis of: tradeoffs in inter-sectoral water allocation; solutions to complexities in transboundary water management; options for alleviating pressures on freshwater ecosystems; better understanding and quantifying reasons, trends and impacts of water-driven migration, and the scenarios and solutions to resolve water-energy-food nexus in specific geographical settings. The project will also entail a strong focus on capacity and youth dimensions-some of which will be addressed through the UN-Water Learning Centre (WLC) platform. At the core of it, it will strongly support the SDG 6 targets (6.5. 6.6 & 6 b).
The main Research Questions to be addressed include:
• What are the key gaps and needs to implement the global water security goals and objectives?
• What are the drivers, trends, and pattern of, as well as policy-relevant and science-based solutions for, collective actions on water and migration/displacement issues?
• What role can nature-based solution (NbS) approach play to address numerous challenges in managing aquatic ecosystems, particularly wetlands and;
• How can water be used as a peace vehicle in conflicts’ resolution, and will / how this assist in addressing water-related challenges beyond territorial boundaries?
Overall, the Project aims to encourage integrated thinking and influence policy action– among national policymakers, international development
partners and their technical experts – by providing practical knowledge and shall facilitate the creation and sharing of a body of new knowledge products and services that will inform practical approaches that help develop effective policies, programs, and investments that address all socio-economic aspects of water for sustainable development.