Enabling Delta Life

Deltas, where the river meets the sea, are dynamic and productive systems where people live and have built civilizations for millennia. Throughout the world they host dense populations and are important centers of food production, livelihoods and industry. These confluences of the sweet and the salty waters are of great ecological significance, featuring wetlands of high and unique biodiversity. Wise management of deltas is crucial for the integrity of ecosystems, economic well being and poverty alleviation.

The world’s deltas are under unprecedented pressure due to human induced change and natural forces. Rapid population growth, land use change, climate change, sea level rise and land subsidence do not only result in significant and irreversible damage to infrastructure, ecosystems and livelihoods but also retard development gains. These complex problems call for concerted action – an integrated framework for decision making incorporating spatial planning, disaster management and risk reduction strategies. The resilience of deltas can only be enhanced through adaptive governance, sound economic instruments and innovative financing.

Enabling Delta Life is a collaborative initiative for water management and governance in deltas between the Global Water Partnership and the Delta Alliance, supported by the Netherlands Ministry of Development Cooperation. The Delta Alliance is an international knowledge-driven network organization with the mission of improving the resilience of the world’s deltas.

The objectives of the initiative are to:

  • stimulate increased cooperation worldwide between those involved in the governance of deltas
  • strengthen the science-policy interface objective
  • develop a framework for analysis and action which will feed into the next GWP and Delta Alliance strategy
  • develop a joint GWP – Delta Alliance delta agenda for the next phase.

Roadmap of planned activities 2012:

  • a kick-off discussion note on deltas in May
  • an electronic discussion at the professional online network platform LinkedIn June-August
  • a first draft of a framework for analysis and action which will be brought up for discussion and comments at the beginning of August. Submit comments to cees.vandeguchte@deltares.nl by 30 September 2012. 

  • a workshop held at the GWP Consulting Partners meeting in Stockholm on the 26th of August 2012
  • a seminar/high level panel session during the World Water Week in Stockholm on the 29th of August 2012
  • a definitive framework for analysis and action, based on the physical meetings, the electronic discussion and other activities in relation to the initiative

Process of the activities

Various documents describe the intrinsic characteristics of deltas, and call for a delta approach that builds upon the good principles of ecosystem based management, integrated water resources management and integrated coastal zone management.

The kick-off discussion note for the Enabling Delta Life initiative was written to stimulate discussion. Topics of the discussion include pressure and challenges in deltas, disasters, governance, subsidence and salinization. The kick off discussion also includes additional reading materials and can be found at:

Delta Alliance, Deltas in the Picture: a Debate on the Sustainable Development of Deltas.

The Delta Alliance published a report assessing the vulnerability and resilience of 10 deltas worldwide.

At the World Water Forum in Istanbul, the World Water Council presented a perspectives paper on deltas, and the scientific community calls for an International Year of Deltas.with respect to water and climate change adaptation.

Delta Governance and Policy group

To form a Delta Governance and Policy group key people from several countries involved in delta governance have been approached by GWP: Bangladesh, Benin, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Thailand, Vietnam, and the USA. Each key person were asked to nominate a person or personally engage in the “Enabling Delta Life” initiative, and to develop brief cases-descriptions on deltas based on five questions:

  1. What are the 3 main delta issues in your delta?
  2. What are the main measures to deal with these issues?
  3. How did you organize / are you organizing the process in your delta for developing this?
  4. What was the most difficult part in your process so far?
  5. What 3 suggestions do you have for a country that is just starting to think about their delta?

LinkedIn group

A LinkedIn group has been set up to enable an electronic discussion on water and deltas under the name What Makes Managing Water in Deltas Different managed jointly by the Global Water Partnership and the Delta Alliance. We hope that this joint group will give a wide access to debate on water and delta’s, and that the discussions will provide inputs to the preparation of the two meetings in Stockholm and to the definitive analysis and action framework. All working and interested in governance and management of deltas are welcome to join the group!

Group members may initiate or react to a discussion or do a poll. To be able to participate and join the group you have to be/become a member of the professional network LinkedIn.

Draft of the framework for analysis and action

A first draft of the framework for the management of deltas will be developed based on the activities of the initiative and will be published online for comments in August.

Two meetings in Stockholm

The Global Water Partnership Consulting Partner Meeting

Workshop 2: Managing the World's Deltas: Designing effective solutions in a climate of uncertainty 

Date: 26th of August 2012 Time: 13:30-15:00

Venue: Clarion Hotel, Södermalm, Stockholm, Sweden

The workshop focuses on successful case studies of program/project interventions which highlight good practices of delta governance and management. The expected outcome is that the participants will gain knowledge of Delta interventions through lessons learned from real experiences which will feed into projects and programs they initate to address problems in their own delta systems.

World Water Week, Stockholm

Seminar: "Managing the World’s Deltas: Unique Systems, Unique Challenges"

Date: 29th of August Time: 09:00-12:30

Venue: T6, Älvsjömässan, Älvsjö, Stockholm

Highlighting international best practice from a number of countries, this seminar will raise global awareness of delta issues and inform the development of a definitive framework for analysis and action.

The framework for analysis and action

The initiative aims to develop a framework for analysis and action which will feed into the next GWP and Delta Alliance strategy and a joint GWP-Delta Alliance agenda.

Photo: Ganges Delta, NASA | Wikimedia Commons