The world commemorated World Water Day on March 22 with events around the globe focusing on ways to make international cooperation happen in the water. Events held in celebration of the Day covered all aspects of water - from water supply and sanitation, to water and its nexuses with food and energy, water resources management and water and climate change. But in most, if not all of these events, one theme was clearly cross-cutting: the importance of strengthening partnerships to leverage knowledge and facilitate innovative solutions.
One example of such partnership is the Alliance for Global Water Adaptation (AGWA), a group of regional and global development banks, aid agencies and governments, and a diverse set of non-governmental organizations that was formed to help countries manage water resources in a chancing climate. In 2010, AGWA pioneered a Decision Support System (DSS) to help experts, decision makers, and institutions in the water community work more effectively. Marking World Water Day and the first anniversary of the U.S. Water Partnership (USWP), a public-private network established by former Secretary of State Clinton, Conservation International (CI) announced that DSS has been recognized by the USWP as one of two new “Signature Initiatives." During an award ceremony at the U.S. National Academy of Sciences hosted by the U.S. Department of State, AGWA earned the prestigious recognition as a priority for water management and development efforts by the United States across the globe. This prestigious classification will increase awareness of and response to climate change adaptation imperatives for freshwater management. Given the complex water challenges the world faces today, there is great hope and expectation that the Signature Initiative status of DSS will help to bring climate adaptation into mainstream freshwater management and development investments.
The DSS is an online interactive platform that blends the best of the existing information, approaches, and tools on resilient water management focusing on four themes: hydrology and climate change; economics and finance; engineering and ecology; and systems of governance. It will inform and support decision making in water projects, with a specific emphasis on developing countries. DSS will be publicly available on the AGWA website later in the year. Through innovation and partnership, and getting the basics right, the global water community is making significant strides. We hope to see more of these initiatives in the future.