BLUE GREEN DEALS WITH INTEGRATED SOLUTIONS
Water as an enabler to accelerate resilient and sustainable development
Subtheme 1 Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration
Subtheme 2 Reuse, Recycle and Recover
- Ecosystem balance & restoring natural processes and water cycle
- Nature-based solutions & green-blue integrated infrastructural solutions
Due to long-term degradation of water quality and quantity reduction, lowering ground water levels, concretised water replenishment areas, over-extraction of services, natural processes and cycles have been negatively impacted. Restoration and conservation programs that can improve these declining processes and ecosystem services can support in restoring nature balances, micro-climates and local weather conditions.
Pharmaceutical waste, micro-pollutants and other chemical waste especially from water transport systems, are central concerns in water quality which then impact the ecosystem health. COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the production, consumption and waste of plastic disposed in the environment and absorbed by natural processes.
Results from global implementation of different nature-based solutions has proved to be a potential solution for reducing future risks and challenges and contribute to achieve clean water and ecosystem restoration. Integration with green and blue infrastructural solutions can further reduce the vulnerabilities and exposure in the long-run.
- Reclaim and Reuse of wastewater
- Safe Resource recovery
- Central versus local/ decentralised solutions for drinking water production & wastewater treatment
- Water for Food: water reuse & water efficiency
Current progression around waste treatment, reclaim, reuse and recycling of resources has paved the groundwork to implement resource recovery ideas. Pharmaceutical, other chemical waste disposal, bacteriological pollution and virus transmission, especially in recent COVID-19 times, has unmasked the flaws in existing water circulation and distribution systems. Regarding the increasing droughts the need for reclaiming and recycling of wastewater is getting more and more important.
Local and decentralised solutions for drinking water production and distribution, wastewater treatment and technological advances in making water bodies, sources and streams swimmable and drinkable, is the current progress with a potential positive impact. Water utilisation for food production and the consequences of generated wastewater; can be reused with water efficient technologies and tools and fed back into the system.
Community-led local solutions can support in implementation of resilient, sustainable and scalable actions. Water, energy, communities and food production are closely related and inter-dependent. Waste reuse and recycling in food production sector, responsible chemical consumption and disposal, efficient irrigation technologies and systems can further the progress in efficient resource use.
Building towards locally resourced and implemented solutions, sharing best practices, lessons learned and resource-use efficiency achieved can further push sectors towards environment-friendly solutions and resilient ecosystems.
Subtheme 3 Risk and Resilience
Subtheme 4 Community engagement and inter-sectoral collaboration
- Adaptive & resilient design of water infrastructure: water quality, flooding and drought
- Early warning systems for high disaster-risk prone regions & availability of data
- Financial systems to strengthen dealing with risk preparedness
Climate threats, shocks and exposure to vulnerabilities are the main driving force behind resilient systems. Susceptibility and vulnerability of social, structural, political, economical and/or ecological kind can exacerbate the impacts.
Early warning systems strengthening, innovative and region-specific local solutions, assessment of threats and challenges especially in high-disaster risk prone areas can be a good starting point towards flexible and resilient systems. Remote sensing data, advances in artificial intelligence data, satellite-data, geohydro-technical data, learning from past and future prediction based analytical systems can bridge the divide in knowledge and policy.
There are political, structural, financial and ecological challenges in water infrastructure design. However, the focus here, is regarding building the adaptive ability, resilient designing and good practices that can be adopted for implementation and scaling up in other areas.
Thinking about assets as well as infrastructure, predictive data monitoring and automatisation of assets functioning and water quality testing and monitoring should open possibilities of future resilient and robust design. Inclusion of challenges in water quality, flooding as well as drought resilience in designing solutions is the need of the hour.
Dysfunctioning and old infrastructures can delay the impact of infrastructural transitions. Flooding, high sediment load etc can often damage the water infrastructures and can lead to high repair costs, making the services suffer thereby lowering investments in repair, maintenance and rehabilitation of the system.
Thus, ensuring climate-proofing of solutions and services, integration within operational practices and flexibility of local integration and innovations can support in adaptive water infrastructures. Data-driven planning and system strengthening can also support in ‘smart’ design adaptive, robust yet flexible and resilient systems.
Financial investments and incentives can play a major role in driving the systems towards risk preparedness and strengthening of local solutions. While new innovations and solutions are experimented, implemented and institutionalised; recovery and retrofitting of old infrastructures and restoring local solutions within the other water infrastructures can provide short-term solutions, inclusion and accessibility of resources to all, and thus, can steer financial systems towards investments and security in resilient solutions, beneficial in the long run.
- Building awareness and trust among communities, inclusive decision-making on future climate risks and ecosystem processes
- Water (re)allocation: finding common ground for robust water distribution
- Smart data tools for data-driven community engagement
Threading through all the other three sub-themes, requires continuous community and stakeholder engagement at all decision levels. Building awareness, capacity strengthening and inclusion of data-driven and innovative solutions can help build trust among the stakeholders, communities, organisations and youth organisations. Future climate risks, degrading environment and natural processes require a collaborative and integrated approach.
Consumer centric infrastructural and systemic solutions for example in water pricing and tariff settings can be a step forward to begin with. Inclusive decision-making processes and management can be a step forward in bridging the gap between decisions and implementations, policy makers and communities and expected outcomes vis-as-vis actual results.
Water distribution systems especially in times of drought, trade-offs between competing sectors and political priorities often lead to water supply and access issues. Water re-allocation mechanisms triggered by stakeholder-led decision processes can provide a common-ground for building trust as well as building robust and flexible integrated solutions. Water pricing and Smart data tools for data-led planning and strategies can provide the necessary trigger in fostering collaboration between sectors and at multi-levels.
From cases to bankable projects – cross-cutting topics:
A key and cross-cutting theme for the AIWW 2019 is: bankability. We need to unpack the exact challenges and opportunities for investors and financiers interested in financing the big water actors and their projects.
There will be special attention for:
- Project development
- The distinction between different types of project finance
- Best practices in financing blue-green and/or circular solutions and technical innovation
- Risk management and monitoring and valuing water using the natural capital concept
Last but not least, the AIWW Conference 2019 will be facilitating case-based matchmaking between the water sector and finance sector.