SWP Launches Toolkit #3
What is Water Security Planning?
Water security planning aims to identify, define, evaluate, and choose water security activities in terms of:
- Mitigation of targeted priority water risks
- Direct and indirect benefits, positive and negative impacts and externalities
- Combined/cumulative benefits and externalities among various activities
- Socioeconomic and environmental impacts
- Direct and indirect costs, capacity, and resource needs
- Robustness in view of uncertainties of future trends (i.e. capacity to provide benefits across the range of possible futures)
- Ability to adjust to changing conditions
Guiding Practices for Water Security Planning
Water security planning must follow the eight WSI guiding practices:
- Pragmatic focus on specific water risks
- Engagement and mobilization of water risks
- A “systems thinking” approach to address causes and not just symptoms
- Robust decision-making that considers uncertainties
- Negotiated solutions that provide tangible benefits to different water user groups
- Science-based actions that combine infrastructure development with watershed management, behavior change, and institutional improvements
- Adaptive management and learning to improve over time and build the capacities of stakeholders
- Sustainability through economic efficiency, environmental soundness, and social equity
A specific requirement for the water security plan is to be timely and pragmatic. This is about finding an “optimal balance” between producing a detailed exploration and review of possible water security options and defining and implementing tangible activities to address priority water risks. Stakeholder perceptions of the magnitude and urgency of current water risks and associated priorities are the deciding factor.
Adopting stakeholder participation is vital for successful water security planning. For years, water managers and engineers have used predictive methods to identify solutions and make top-down water management decisions. These technical methods are based on experience and scientific knowledge to predict outcomes based on existing and future conditions. But predictive methods often fail to deliver the expected results due to factors such as the complexity of water issues, the uncertainties around current information and future conditions, and the multiplicity of objectives.
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