The Brisbane Declaration and Global Action Agenda on Environmental Flows (2018)

The 20th International Riversymposium and Environmental Flows Conference held in Brisbane in 2017 was an opportune time to revisit the Brisbane Declaration on Environmental Flows (2007).  A six-month consultation process with colleagues and delegates before, during and after the 2017 Riversymposium produced a renewed declaration and action agenda.  This has been published in Frontiers in Environmental Science (Arthington et al. 2018  Here are some highlights.

Revised Definition of Environmental Flows

Environmental flows describe the quantity, timing, and quality of freshwater flows and levels necessary to sustain aquatic ecosystems which, in turn, support human cultures, economies, sustainable livelihoods, and well-being”

This definition meets the call to embrace flowing (lotic), standing (lentic) and groundwater-dependent ecosystems, as well as aquatic ecosystems that may alternate between these states (e.g., ephemeral streams and intermittent rivers).

Action Agenda (2018) – a Pathway Forward for Environmental Flows

The Action Agenda makes 35 actionable recommendations to guide and support the implementation of environmental flows through legislation and regulation, water management programs, and research, linked by partnership arrangements involving diverse stakeholders.
An important new element of the 2018 Declaration and Action Agenda is the emphasis given to full and equal participation for people of all cultures, and respect for their beliefs, values, knowledge, rights, responsibilities and systems of governance in environmental water decisions.