José Galizia Tundisi
Doctor en Ciencias por la Universidad de San Pablo. Doctor Honoris Causa por las Universidades de Southampton, Inglaterra, y por la Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería de Perú.
Water for the Future: New Governance Prospects
The importance of water for the human population and for the ecosystem functioning has been stressed in several international forums and by international agencies such as UNESCO, PNUMA, FAO and WHO. At present three main key words establish clearly the water situation in our planet Earth: water security; water availability; vulnerability.
These processes represent the main challenges to be faced for water governance, at present: water security refers to the capacity to maintain access to the quantity of water of good quality for the human health and for ecosystem functioning; water availability is related to the capacity to supply adequate volumes of water for all populations of the world; water vulnerability is the challenge to face the many threats that degradation of water resources, due to pollution, global changes and over use of the resource, produce (Jimenez – Cisneros, 2015).
These are the three outstanding problems that have to be dealt with in the future governance of water resources. Nearly 800 million people still have no access to drinking water; (accessibility), 2,5 billion people lack access to sanitation (increasing vulnerability); 6 to 8 million people die each year from water related diseases (vulnerability). Many periurban regions of the large metropolitan areas of the world lack sanitation and access to water. Millions of people are affected.
The future of water governance has to consider first the relationship of water, with food production, energy production, and developing an Integrated Water Resources Management at a watershed level. The interaction between the scientific knowledge about water resources (surface and underground), and the hydrological and hydrosocial cycle and the application with the use of advanced technological tools has to be enhanced. Integrated Water Resource Management should include economic and social processes (Tundisi et al, 2015), and community participation in the decision process and in the choice of alternatives for competent governance.
The Water Governance of the Future: Advances in the Watershed Approach
Water quantity, water quality and proper water governance are the fundamental assets for water security.
Water security for human populations as well as for ecosystem functioning, and food production is at the center of the sustainability process (Young et al, 2015).
The watershed approach for governance for Integrated Water Resources Management has been stressed by several authors (Tundisi and Matsumura-Tundisi, 2016). The watershed economy is strongly dependent on the availability of water of good quality. Either as a fundamental component of food production, energy, public water supply or recreation as well as industrial production, water is a key component of a watershed economy. The watershed governance considering all the components – water availability, water security, vulnerability, stakeholders, public participation is a fundamental and strategic process. Strategic planning, watershed regulations on water uses, improving data bases, and capacity of prediction are key actions. The watershed, water governance should be open and transparent; inclusive and communicative; coherent and integrative equitable and ethical (Rogers et al, 2006).
In order to advance the Integrated Water Resources Management at a watershed level, the interlinkages between social and natural systems have to be better understood. It is also necessary to quantify the gaps in knowledge between multiple uses of water resources by the humans and the adequate volume for ecosystem functioning. New and advanced technological approaches on monitoring (real time monitoring) measurements of loads due to soil use and technological advances by the use of satellite images are important tools for water governance.
Sustained Ecological Research at the watershed level is one key component of the advanced watershed approach. Since the watersheds are complex systems, the Long Term Ecological Research is a fundamental tool to understand this complexity and translate it to practical applications. (Likens, 1992).