The inclusion of a water goal in the the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) puts the responsibility for linking water to other development sectors firmly in the hands of water policy makers and practitioners. GWP’s Technical Background Paper No. 22 addresses the implementation of the water goal in the context of an integrated, cross-sectoral approach.
The title of the paper is “Increasing water security: the key to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals”. Tushaar Shah wrote the paper while he was a member of the GWP Technical Committee. He reviews the IWRM approach and its evolution over the past 25 years towards increasing water security – its successes and disappointments.
“IWRM is essentially a simple idea which gradually gained international acceptance, yet putting it into practice has not proved easy. IWRM is not without its critics. Those who have tried to operationalise it have often applied a ‘one-size-fits-all package’ which does not recognise the unique nature of physical, social, economic, political, and environmental circumstances which determine how a country puts IWRM into practice,” explains Dr. Mohamed Ait-Kadi – former Chair of the GWP Technical Committee – in the foreword.
This review suggests we should learn from the disappointments rather than abandoning the application of IWRM. The first lesson is that implementation of an integrated approach must be gradual and nuanced and not pushed upon countries as an ‘IWRM package’. The second is that countries at different stages of socio-economic evolution have different needs and capabilities and it is essential that this context is taken into account.
The paper is now available online or through the GWP web shop.