International Conference

Sustainable Development Goals: A Water Perspective

Indicators, Interlinkages and Implementation

Organized by the Global Water System Project (GWSP) with the financial support of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

17-18 August 2015

Maritim Hotel

Bonn, Germany


In the face of global change, sustainable development represents the major challenge for human development while dealing with the increased demand for scarce resources under environmental and socio-economic constraints. Currently, UN member states with the help of international community of experts, stakeholders and policy makers are involved in finalizing the formulation of sustainable development goals (SDGs), and setting the post 2015 development agenda through complex negotiating process which will guide the national and international efforts of sustainable development till 2030.

Sustainable development is very strongly connected to the availability of sufficient and good quality water for the preservation of healthy ecosystems and is critical for socio-economic and human development. Water is and remains a crucial factor of adaptation to the intertwined challenges that humankind faces in the light of global change.

Currently, the SDGs have been formulated as a draft in the report of the United Nations Open Working Group’s (OWG) and they are expected to be adopted at the UN high level summit during the forthcoming 70th UN General Assembly. The emerging resolution includes a dedicated water goal addressing water resources management and service provision for sustainable development aims of societies, and promote human dignity. However, given several dimensions of water governance and management problems, there are several challenges related to the implementation of this goal, and particularly on how the targets could be monitored, their achievement measured and assessed based on the linkage of water supply and sanitation management to human wellbeing, healthy ecosystems and economic productivity, while taking into account also its hazard potential.

The water SDG framework poses a number of conceptual as well as implementation challenges that requires enhancing the close collaboration between the policy and scientific communities and other stakeholders, including industry. It is important to engage in a partnership between science, policy, industry, agriculture and civil society at large to implement and monitor the achievement of SDGs.

The conference intends to play a key role in helping the science community to interact with the international policy consultation process to inform, and catalyse action by key actors—including policymakers, non‐governmental organizations, the private sector, educators, and researchers as agents of change.

This conference will bring together available information, identify knowledge and action gaps, share lessons on viable instruments and approaches, facilitate networks, and create a platform for moving toward action on the SDGs. This conference will create an opportunity for co-production of knowledge, incubate ideas involving scientists and different stakeholders to be partners in the post-2015 development process, and develop knowledge-to-concrete actions and innovative solutions while implementing and monitoring the achievement of the SDGs. 

The conference will focus on the three “I”s -Indicators, Interlinkages, and Implementation.

Theme 01: Indicators

Development of Indicators, Indices, Monitoring, Assessment, and Reporting   Water-related Goals and Target Achievements

This theme will discuss on how to develop appropriate indicators, indices across several disciplines for water, wastewater and water resources management & governance, water quality and water related disasters and explore monitoring frameworks and data integration for a comprehensive picture of the global water system. The sessions under this theme will discuss the strategic and detailed elements of scientific assessment process, and how to create a practical set of steps leading to a reporting mechanism to deliver knowledge and insights generated by global water science e.g. periodical assessment report on water to be water-related policy makers and the applications community.

Theme 02: Interlinkages

Identifying key trade-offs and complementarities

Under this theme, trade-offs and complementarities will be determined to distinguish between "What" and "How" type of SDGs and targets; and how SDGs can be more effectively implemented and monitored by the use of integrated information, and principles of good governance and management through strengthening cross-level interactions in water, food, energy, health nexi. The theme will also present and discuss tools to support the implementation of innovative and integrated risk governance which can minimize the negative impacts of existing and emerging risks in relation to the SDGs.

Theme 03: Implementation

Advancing Practice, Science and Policy Links, Partnerships and Innovative Solutions

The panel will focus on the practice, science & policy (P-S-P) link, and how it can be strengthened through co-design of research and solutions in the perspective of SDGs. The sessions under this theme will focus on how sharing available information, knowledge and action gaps, as well as viable instruments and approaches can contribute to implementation of SDGs.

This theme will discuss integration of scientific research with industrial solutions towards identifying a feasible set of sustainable water solutions with an overall objective of sustaining environmental services, reducing threats to ecosystems while ensuring human water security. Given the lack of convincing progress in this area the need for innovative solutions becomes apparent.