Enhancing Water Security for the Benefits of Humans and Nature (EWAS)

Currently a collaborative group led by Claudia Pahl-Wostl, which is emerging from participants of the GWSP-GWNI Workshop and other invited collaborators, submitted a full-proposal to the recent Belmont – G8HORC call by end of December 2012 on "Enhancing Water Security for the Benefits of Humans and Nature (EWAS)". The past two decades have witnessed increasing global concern with the need for sustainable water and land management in an era of rapid change and persistent water and food insecurity.

The past two decades have witnessed increasing global concern with the need for sustainable water and land management in an era of rapid change and persistent water and food insecurity. Human population increase, economic development, climate change, and other drivers alter water resource availability and use, resulting in increased risk of extreme low and high flows, variously altered flow regimes, and water demands surpassing renewable supply. Human water security, when narrowly framed, is thus often achieved in the short term at the expense of the environment with harmful implications in the long run for socio-ecological systems as a whole. The increasing concern about sustainable pathways towards increased water security has prompted the need to redefine water security as “The availability of an acceptable quantity and quality of water for health, livelihoods, ecosystems and production, coupled with an acceptable level of water-related risks to people, environments and economies”. This definition highlights social and environmental trade-offs as a matter of concern. The environmental flows (EFs) concept is central to this broader understanding of water security. EFs are defined here as the “quantity, timing and quality of water flows required to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the human livelihoods and well-being that depend on these ecosystems”.

How much water to (re)allocate to the environment, how to balance this with other water demand, and what an EFs allocation scheme might imply for human livelihoods and well-being of different actors are often controversial. Environmental flow requirements (EFRs) must be determined that sustain the desired future ecosystem state, as agreed amongst stakeholders, together with the bundles of services these ecosystems supply for human benefit. Rules are needed to set these EFRs and these rules must be coordinated with other types of basin-wide water uses.

More information will be online soon.