Integrated Water Management Needed Now More Than Ever

Trinidad and Tobago held a virtual consultation on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator 6.5.1 – which tracks the degree of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) implementation. This is the first in a series of 60+ in-country consultations coordinated by GWP this year, in collaboration with the UNEP-DHI Centre and Cap-Net UNDP, under the guidance of the UN Environment Programme. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the planned workshops will be held online. “We firmly believe that an integrated approach to water resources management is needed now more than ever”, says GWP Senior Water Resources Management Specialist Colin Herron.

To effectively respond to current and future challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, water-centric responses must go beyond water and sanitation services, to include inclusive decision-making around access and management of water resources with a long-term perspective. In doing so, there is a need to coordinate between sectors and stakeholders at all levels – in other words there is a need for an IWRM approach.

“With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting in the collective psyche the need for water for human health, we firmly believe that an integrated approach to water resources management is needed now more than ever. That’s why the SDG 6 IWRM Support Programme adapted its support to countries reporting on the degree of implementation of IWRM (SDG 6.5.1), in order to facilitate online multi-stakeholder consultations that efficiently identify the challenges and opportunities countries are facing. By proposing careful guidelines for how best to carry out those virtual consultations, we aim to help countries in boosting their long-term development objectives through water management, while they hopefully keep safe, in these new working-from-home conditions,” says GWP Senior Water Resources Management Specialist Colin Herron.

“SDG 6.5.1. is the backbone to implement other SDGs”

Following these guidelines, in Trinidad and Tobago, more than thirty stakeholders participated in the virtual consultation on 29-30 April. The participants came from various government ministries and associated divisions, statutory bodies, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations, private sector firms, research/educational institutions and more.

“SDG 6.5.1. can be seen as the backbone to support the implementation of the other SDGs; water is cross-cutting and has influence over all sectors and therefore has a critical role to play,” said Dr. Ronald Roopnarine, Network Manager of Caribbean WaterNet (Cap-Net UNDP), who facilitated the consultation.

One of the issues raised in the consultation was the need for central statistical agencies to improve the coordination of information. From discussions, there were instances where stakeholders in one agency may have done something similar to another, or projects that neither were aware of. Some participants shared that they believed that one of the hindrances in achieving SDG 6 in 2030, is the need for the implementation of current laws, the amending of some old ones and more monitoring and reporting; a less fragmented approach.

The next scheduled consultations are set to take place in Grenada on 19-21 May and in Nicaragua on 27 May. The reporting deadline for all countries on SDG 6.5.1 is 31 July.

Photo: The virtual Trinidad and Tobabo consultation took place 29-30 April.