Connecting people for river flows

Dry spells and over extraction of water are increasingly drying up rivers, with immense impacts o­n nature and people around the world. Activities to respond to this problem are mostly uncoordinated and dispersed, despite the knowledge and expertise being available.

To coordinate action for living rivers worldwide, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) together with leading global water and environmental organizations have launched a network of experts, practitioners, policy makers, local community representatives and end users at the World Water Week o­n 20 August 2006 . The network is focused o­n supplying Environmental Flows approaches in order to leave enough water in rivers to maintain downstream benefits for people and nature.

“Environmental Flows means that water in rivers is managed in such a way that downstream users and ecosystems receive enough water to remain ‘in business’,“ said Dr. Ger Bergkamp, who is leading IUCN’s water work globally. The Environmental Flows work entails negotiation between water users, based o­n an understanding of the impacts their water use has o­n others, and o­n their natural environment.

At the World Water Week, a seminar was held o­n the establishment of the Environmental Flows Network, convened by IUCN and several partner organizations (The Nature Conservancy, International Water Management Institute, Stockholm International Water Institute, DHI, Delft Hydraulics, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Swedish Water House). The aim of the seminar was to share ideas o­n how a global network of local and national practitioners and experts o­n Environmental Flows could work together.

“The term environmental flows needs to become part of the common language. This will o­nly happen when people understand the urgency of the water allocation needed to maintain environmental integrity and provide for people’s livelihoods and wellbeing,” said Mr. Sylvand Kamugisha from IUCN Tanzania.

The network will need to integrate environmental flows into daily management use in river basins, as well as to support the restoration and management of watersheds in ways that serve environmental needs alongside livelihoods. This applies to a variety of stakeholders from policy makers who shape legislation o­n water allocation to industries that extract water for their processes, to fishermen that rely o­n sufficient flows to support fish stocks.

The Environmental Flow Network will be a key communication tool in spreading knowledge and understanding of the Environmental Flows application and implementation methods in river basins.

“The discussion during the seminar demonstrated that there is a need for a central access point for information o­n environmental flows which can provide a wide range of points and methods for gaining access to knowledge, tools, training, conferences and expertise,” said Angela Arthington from Griffith University, Brisbane.

For more information please visit:

Source: website of IUCN,  newsletter of EMWIS

Updated on 9/13/2006 4:42:15 PM.