Event archive

Event Organiser: The Irrigation and Water Forum

Increasing water security – How do we do it? London

  • Lecture
  • London
  • 08 November 2019
  • 10:15 - 17:00
Increasing water security – How do we do it? London

About this event

“Putting Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) into practice will be the most comprehensive step that countries make towards achieving SDG 6” (from UN synthesis report on SDG 6, 2018).

How do societies increase water security? In the past, the answer was simply to develop new water resources, for instance, by building dams or drilling boreholes. Today is a different story. The global population is expanding rapidly and is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. Socio-economic growth is increasing the demand for water for people, food, energy, and recreation; food consumption habits are changing, and communities are becoming more mobile. Food production is already a major water consumer, taking 70% of available freshwater resources. By 2050, water demand for additional food production is expected to outstrip existing water supplies by as much as 40% if we continue to use water at current rates (2030 Water Resources Group, World Bank 2009).

Most analysts now accept that the greatest benefits will come from improving the way we use and manage existing water resources and finding ways of sharing our dependency of limited resources. Over the past 25 years this thinking has led to the concept of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) – a process of cooperation and sharing limited water resources. IWRM is now enshrined in the 2030 UN Development Agenda and particularly Sustainable Goal (SDG) 6 – the ‘Water Goal’. Most countries have accepted the principle, but few have put IWRM into practice, not least because there is no ‘blue-print’ for implementation.

This one-day event explores current experiences of implementing IWRM in the UK, Africa and Asia. How can we learn from each other to contribute to development of ‘best-practice’ approaches? We also examine the challenging relationship between governments, that plan national water strategies, and large corporates, that often play a significant role in water resources management as major water users and polluters through their water stewardship schemes. How should governments and civil society approach complex questions of asymmetries of power and political economy?


Julien Harou

Professor of Water Management, Water Engineering Chair, University of Manchester

Integrating agricultural use into system-scale water resource assessments and planning

Assessing how agricultural water use fits into wider river basin planning means understanding how energy, food, water supply and other uses are distributed over space and time, and how infrastructure and its operation can deliver water allocation policies and service goals. This talk will review several regional, national, and trans-boundary modelling efforts in the UK, but also Africa and Asia to see concrete examples of how this can be done. Special attention is set on ways of working in practice with models and software, also the link of IWRM to the new science and practice area of ‘decision-making under deep uncertainty’ is discussed.

Steve Moncaster

Technical Director Water Resources East

Progress through collaboration

  1. Experience managing scarce water resources in the western US
  2. Emerging policy landscape in the UK
  3. WRE response in the East of England

Richard Austen

Water Resources Manager – Regulation

Reforming Abstraction licensing to improve water security

The joint Environment Agency and Defra Abstraction Plan set out the actions we are taking to reform the way we regulate abstraction in England. By following the actions set out in the plan, we will develop a regulatory framework which will help support the move to improved Water Security.

Jelle Beekma

Senior Water Resources Specialist (food security), Asian Development Bank

The leap forward, IWRM from concept to action

The presentation will review the introduction of IWRM in a number of developing countries (e.g. Afghanistan, Tajikistan, China, Tanzania) identify main pitfalls for action and propose tools and methods to address the challenges.

Jelle is a hydrologist and agricultural engineer with over 30 years’ consulting, research and teaching experience covering a wide range of irrigation, agricultural drainage, (trans-boundary) river basin management and related policy and institutional issues. Jelle has water management experience in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East and North and South America as a researcher for ILRI-Wageningen, New Mexico-Tech, and a consultant for LML-UK, Mott McDonalds, DHV and other assignments as free-lancer. Jelle holds a MS degree in Physical Geography (hydrological processes) from University of Utrecht, Netherlands, did a Masters at Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands and his PhD candidacy in Hydrology at New Mexico Tech, NM, USA.

Hero Heering

Project Principal, Mott MacDonald

Blue Gold – Lessons learned from participatory water management for development in Bangladesh

The coastline of Bangladesh suffers from multiple vulnerabilities, such as cyclones, storm surges, floods, droughts, salinity intrusion, as well as lack of safe drinking water, water logging, and river siltation. Over half the population in the coasts live below the poverty line, suffer from inadequate governmental service provision and face high vulnerabilities in terms of insecurity of food, income, water, health and poverty. These vulnerabilities will likely increase in the light of climate change. The essence of the Blue Gold Program is to establish and empower community organizations to adress potentials and opportunities to sustainably and equitably manage their water resources and to deliver the services (in the area of agriculture, livestock and fisheries development) for which they have expressed a demand.

The Blue Gold Program builds on the results obtained and lessons learned from previous programs and projects. Its concept is emphasing the need to further integrate Water Resources and Food Security policies and practices. It contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 6, 8 and 13 aiming to end poverty and hunger, ensure sustainable water resources management, sustain economic growth and contribute to climate action through climate change adaptation interventions.

The Blue Gold Program’s main objective is to reduce poverty and improve food security through equitable water management and increased and diversified agricultural production in approximately 119,000 ha of polder areas and 200,000 households in the coastal zones of Patuakhali, Khulna and Satkhira. Specific objectives of the Blue Gold Program are to:

  1. To reduce the risk of communities and their land located in polders against floods from river and sea and to optimize the use and management of water resources for their productive sectors
  2. To organize the communities in water management organizations which will have to become the driving force for the natural resources based development (agriculture, fisheries and livestock), whereby environment, climate change, disaster risk reduction, gender and good governance are effectively addressed
  3. To increase the household income derived from the productive sectors for the entire range of rural population but particularly creating income opportunities for the poor and landless
  4. To strengthen the institutional framework for sustained water resources development and related development services

Water resources development is thus the entry point and the initial driver of the community organization process within the Blue Gold Program, but will be complemented by capacity building activities to enhance productivity of crops, fisheries and livestock, adapt to climate change and to improve processing and marketing of agricultural products.

Dr Therese Rudebeck

Lecturer in Environmental and Ecological Economics, University of St Andrews

Aligning Public and Private Ambitions: finding synergies between IWRM and Corporate Water Stewardship

This presentation will argue that corporates have a significant role to play in furthering IWRM implementation. However, it will also show that corporate engagement in water management and governance needs to be accompanied with – among other things – appropriate regulatory requirements. In this presentation, I will unpack what is meant by ‘Corporate Water Stewardship’ and explain why many companies are demonstrating a growing interest in addressing water issues. I will also explore the various implications this could have for addressing societal water security. More specifically, I will question where and how public and private responsibility to ensure water security meet, and where possible productive synergies between Corporate Water Stewardship and IWRM can be found and developed.

Event venue

Institution of Civil Engineers
One Great George Street
London SW1P 3AA
United Kingdom

For more information please contact:

Elira Alushi

e: elira.alushi@ice.org.uk