Water Resources Management
Water is essential for socio-economic development and for maintaining healthy ecosystems. Properly managed water resources are a critical component of growth, poverty reduction and equity. The livelihoods of the poorest are critically associated with access to water services.
With higher rates of urbanization, increasing demand for drinking water will put stress on existing water sources. Feeding a planet of 8 billion by 2030 will require producing more food with less water and through improved water efficiency in agriculture. Energy demand will more than double in poor and emerging economies in the next 25 years and hydropower will need to be a key contributor to clean energy production. Floods and droughts will continue to threaten farmer livelihoods and lowland economies. Besides the needs for these human activities we have to ensure that the environmental water flows required to maintain ecosystems are also maintained.
Water Resources Management aims at optimizing the available natural water flows, including surface water and groundwater, to satisfy these competing needs. Adding uncertainty, climate change will increase the complexity of managing water resources. In some parts of the world, there will be more available water but in other parts, including the developing world, there will be less.
The mounting challenges posed by the changing demand for and supply of the resource highlight the importance of water in any development and growth agenda. The ability of developing countries to make more water available for domestic, agricultural, industrial and environmental uses will depend on better management of water resources and more cross-sectoral planning and integration. With water security declining in many parts of the world, strengthening the resiliency of the poorest countries and populations to climate change impacts, becomes crucial, not only to ensure future water supply but also to combat food and energy price volatility.
World Bank Support
The World Bank is well positioned to assist its clients in improving water resources management and services because of its capability in working across sectors, institutions and countries to help clients deal with the complex challenges of this century. The Bank’s vision for the water sector was initially articulated in the 2003 Water Resources Sector Strategy. This forward-looking strategy anticipated issues such as climate change and rapid urbanization before they were at the forefront of global discussions.
The implementation progress report “Sustaining Water for All in a Changing Climate” (2010) reaffirms the strategic directions for the World Bank Group’s approach to supporting water resources management. Itemphasizes a water development agenda that is integrated with energy, climate, agriculture, land use, and overall economic development and the importance of tackling institutional reforms along with infrastructure upgrades.
World Bank lending in Water Resources Management (WRM) has doubled since 2009. WRM is emerging as a driving theme in the Bank’s portfolio, having increased from $274 million in 2006 to $2.0 billion in 2011.
This funding has responded to the need to address both development and management issues by promoting integrated water resources planning, and by tackling institutional reforms along with infrastructure upgrades for various sectors in the context of green, climate-resilient growth. These issues include flood management, hydropower, agricultural water management, pollution control, transboundary water management and climate change adaptation.
The following elements define the World Bank’s approach:
- Positioning water at the core of the dialogue on green growth. The World Bank plans to incorporate water in the Green Development Knowledge Platform, which aims to support client countries in jointly pursuing growth and environmental goals.
- Addressing water management challenges associated with food security and helping countries develop water-smart agricultural plans.
- Addressing water management challenges associated with rapid urbanization.
- Developing environmentally-sustainable hydropower projects providing storage capacity for multiple uses and clean energy production.
- Pursuing an integrated flood management agenda which includes well-functioning early warning systems, infrastructure and institutional arrangements for coordinated action to address increased variability and changes to runoff and flooding patterns.
- Developing a better understanding of water-related linkages across economic sectors at the country level.
- Strengthening institutions for effective country, delta and basin-level management.
- Managing water resources across national boundaries.
- Identifying and implementing measures for improving governance and increasing the efficiency of water use.
- Mitigating water pollution for protecting the environment and facilitating water reuse.
- Developing an appropriate menu of adaptation and mitigation options for addressing hydrologic variability and climate change in water management.