World Water Week is an annual meeting to discuss the planet’s most urgent water-related issues, held in Stockholm, Sweden. This year’s conference ended August 22. To learn more, visit http://www.conservation.org/water2009. Read a dispatch from Ian Harrison, CI scientist and conference attendee, below.
On Saturday August 16, a seminar session on Environmental Flows for Sustainable Development, Poverty Alleviation, and Biodiversity Conservation was convened by the Global Environmental Flows Network (eflowNet), USAID Global Water for Sustainability Programs (GLOWS), Conservation International, Deltares, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Swedish Water House (SWH), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), UNEP-DHI Centre for Water and Environment (UDC) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
Environmental flows “describe the quantity, quality and timing of water flows required to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and the human livelihoods and well-being that depend on these ecosystems,” as defined by The Brisbane Declaration of 2007 (PDF – 55 KB). This session looked at the role that environmental flows can play in developing hydropower projects, agriculture and food production, and at how we plan for the potential impacts of climate change on environmental flows.
Conservational International presented information on the importance of including the ecosystem itself as a stakeholder in the required environmental flows, i.e, ensuring that the complexity of freshwater ecosystems are properly understood so that enough flow is present to support the ecosystem and the multiple services they provide. The presentations and panel discussions noted that environmental flows need to take into account the changing economic and cultural values and uses of water in the 21st century.
The Nature Conservancy, who presented information in collaboration with Conservation International, highlighted the importance of maximizing the use of local knowledge of river flows (e.g. from fishermen) as a simple, cheap, but very effective means of developing reliable and practical eflows models.
Ian Harrison, Ph.D. is the Freshwater Species Assessment and Program Fundraising Manager for IUCN-Wetlands International Freshwater Fish Specialist Group Executive Committee and Conservation International’s Center for Applied Biodiversity Science & IUCN-SSC Biodiversity Assessment Unit