Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP) of UNESCO and the Sustainable Water Future program of Future Earth, hosted at Griffith University, developed a joint action plan: “Science for SDG6: Science to accelerate the implementation of SDG6″ in 2022. This action plan focused on the role that 21st Century Science can play in addressing the gaps in SDG monitoring, assessment, data gathering and implementation. The outcome of this initiative was a water science research agenda; one of the key guiding documents presented and discussed with different stakeholders at the United Nations (UN) 2023 Water Conference held in March 2023 in New York.
The research agenda provides the foundation and basis for discussions and further engagement with UN member countries, Intergovernmental agencies, civil society and funding bodies. The science research agenda also contributes to the 9th Phase of the Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP IX 2022-2029): “Science for a Water Secure World in a Changing Environment.”
Two high-level task forces, established in 2022 with world-renowned scientists and governance and policy experts contributed to the agenda.
The “Frontiers of Water Sciences and Development Goals” task force collected data to explore in-depth the scientific models and tools that can support the SDG implementation in monitoring, measuring SDGs, infrastructure planning, policymaking, and impact evaluation.
The” Science Policy Interlinkages” task force focused on “Resilient Water Management Approaches boundary conditions and policies”. It gathered data to examine the benefits and institutional complexity of applying the scientific tools in SDG implementation for the member countries. It will recommend strategies to overcome the challenges so that science can effectively contribute to SDG 6 Acceleration.
The action plan led to establishing the innovative Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Water Sustainability (ISPWAS). The intergovernmental platform will provide water solutions through a science-based global water assessment tailored to Member States’ needs and validated by an intergovernmental body. It will be a game-changer in underpinning the sustainable management of water resources and supporting informed decision and policy-making by offering a solution-oriented knowledge base that addresses the intersectoral, systemic, complex and transdisciplinary nature of water challenges and identifying capacity development and implementation needs for more effective water management.
The idea of such a mechanism was discussed in detail with the Office of the President of General Assembly (PGA), the two co-hosts of the UN 2023 Water Conference- the Republic of Tajikistan and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, UNDESA, and a group of UN agencies, as well with several scientific and research organizations. Encouraged by the positive feedback received at the October 2022 preparatory meeting at Griffith University, the paradigm-shifting proponents have mobilized the scientific community and other stakeholders to further develop it into an action plan aligned with the mandate of the international water action decade.
Detailed discussions on the viability of the ISPWAS took place at the 1st Open Consultation Meeting, held during the UN-Water meeting on 6 December 2022, at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, where an extended group of water experts were invited to contribute to the draft paper. Building upon the feedback received and incorporating further inputs from UN agencies and scientific partners, a second consultation took place on 19 January 2023, also at UNESCO HQ, facilitating the finalization of the final manuscript presented at the UN 2023 Water Conference.
A side event to the 2023 UN Water Conference was organised by the Republic of Korea and supported by Austria, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, Senegal, Tajikistan, and Uganda, several UN agencies (UNEP, UNDP, WMO, IAEA, UNCCD) and scientific associations (ISC, IAHS), to present the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform to gain countries’ buy-in and engage broader stakeholder participation.
Both task forces are supported by the Water Future Secretariat hosted at Griffith University and UNESCO-IHP in writing tasks, meeting logistics, etc. UNESCO -IHP and Water Future formed a core coordination committee to coordinate and monitor the process. The following members comprise the core coordination committee.
1. Andras Szollosi-Nagy, Chair Water Future
2. Abou Amani, Director, UNESCO-IHP
3. Anik Bhaduri, Director, Sustainable Water Future Programme and A/Professor Griffith University and Chair of Future Earth-Asia
4. Anil Mishra, Chief of section, Hydrological Systems and Water Scarcity, UNESCO
Members of the Task Forces Task Force I: Science toward supporting SDG6 and other related SDGs
Co-Chairs: Stuart Bunn, Professor, Griffith University
Monica Porto, Director of Regional Systems SABESP Brazil.
1. Charles Vörösmarty, Professor, City University of New York
2. Taikan Oki, Senior Vice-Rector, United Nations University, Japan, and Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations.
3. YU Zhongbo, Professor, Hohai University. UNESCO-IHP Chair
4. John Pomeroy, Professor, University of Saskatchewan, and Director, Global Water Futures Programme,
5. Maciej Zalewski, Professor of Applied Ecology at Lodz University, Director of the UNESCO European Regional Centre for Ecohydrology of the Polish Academy of Sciences
6. Veena Srinivasan Director, Centre for Social and Environmental Innovation, ATREE, India
7. Wouter Buytaert, Professor in Hydrology and Water Resources, Imperial College London
8. Akissa Bahri, Professor National Agricultural Institute of Tunisia (INAT).
9. Arheimer Berit, President of International Association of Hydrological Sciences (IAHS) and Head of Unit for Hydrological Research at Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI)
Task Force II: Science-Policy Interlinkages
Co-Chairs- Olcay Unver, Professor, Arizona State University and Industry Fellow, Griffith University
Robert Varady,Professor, University of Arizona
1. Carlo Giopponi Professor of Environmental Economics at the Department of Economics, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
2. Yuanyuan Li, Professor, General Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Planning and Design at the Ministry of Water Resources of China.
3. Mark Smith Director General IWMI, Sri Lanka.
4. Tony Slatyer, Water Policy Group
5. Claudia Pahl Wostl , Professor, University of Osnabruck
6. Annabelle Houdret, Senior Researcher, Programme Environmental Governance and Transformation to Sustainability, German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS)
7. Elena Lopez Gunn, Director ICATALIST
8. Abdou Ali , Senior Hydroclimatologist at AGRHYMET Regional Center, Niamey, Niger
9. Robert Varady, Professor, University of Arizona
10. Anik Bhaduri, Director, Sustainable Water Future Programme and A/Professor Griffith University and Chair of Future Earth-Asia