Ripples and Waves

Ripples & Waves is an online journal of ideas, commentary, and resources for the Swedish Water House community. 

The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely those of the authors, and do not represent the views of Swedish Water House or SIWI. Readers are invited to respond to posts, and their comments will be moderated for relevance before posting. Swedish Water House and SIWI reserve the right to refuse publication of any comment containing obscenity, inflammatory language, or illegal content. You can also report such content here. 

 

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Slow, slow, quick, quick, slow – the Climate debate Foxtrot

Climate Street Art
An image of a sculpture by a Spanish street artist Isaac Cordal spread across social media last week.  The sculpture was interpreted by many as ”Politicians discussing global warming”  and is an illustrative picture of the slow progress on the climate negotiations while the impact from climate change such as sea level rise becomes increasingly evident.

At the same time, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recently celebrated 20 years since entering into force. The cooperative efforts by UNFCCC Parties to limit the emission of greenhouse gases have indeed been slow in many ways and the escalating negative impacts from Climate Change has become increasingly evident. Critical weather events such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, America’s record-breaking freeze, California’s year-long drought, and flooding in Europe have brought the attention of the global community to the need to prepare and respond to the escalating negative impacts from climate change.

The most recent IPCC report (March 2014) further reinforces that climate change extremes such as cyclones, draughts and floods have created huge negative impacts on human well-being. Examples such as damage to infrastructure, food security and water supply are outlined. The report also warns that climate change increases the risk of armed conflict around the world due to its worsening of poverty levels and increase of economic shocks.

The three times Pulitzer prize winning American journalist Thomas Loren Friedman, has written extensively on the strong links between climate change impacts, environmental stress and armed conflicts, focusing especially on the Middle East. According to Friedman one of the key factors for the uprising in Syria was the climate change created Syrian drought.

In the beginning of March, UNFCCC began a long series of negotiations and workshops to prepare for the next Conference of the Parties (COP20) in Lima December 2014. Much of the focus of discussions centre around “Loss and Damage” and is the culmination of several years of policy debate on the need of greater attention on unavoidable fact that climate change impacts are real. Discussions advise that current mitigation ambitions need to be fully prepared for the unavoidable impacts of climate change, such as the critical weather events mentioned above. Under the UNFCCC, the Warsaw International mechanism was also established with the aim of enhancing knowledge on the adverse effects of climate change, strengthening dialogue as well as enhancing action and support.

I took part in the sessions and can convey that the UNFCCC negotiations on Loss and Damage are intense; often heated and ongoing for several days, with discussions continuing until the early hours of the morning. The willingness of the negotiators to reach an agreement and a way forward is undoubtable, yet discussions often became stuck in what can be viewed as tedious details, such as the correct position of a comma. However, it is seemingly small insignificant details like this which are incredibly important as they can determine the clarity and interpretation of the text and obligations by countries.

During the negotiations, the Bolivian negotiator Juan Hoffmaister kept reminding us all about the purpose of the meeting; ‘To find meaningful solutions and support those segments of the global population that is already vulnerable to climate change.'

At the end of the four days of negotiations, some agreements are reached on core areas for further collaboration e.g.  the management of risks, the need of sharing information, identification of capacity needs. But a final text and agreement is not in yet place. This discussion is set to continue at another meeting in the hope of agreeing on a final text.

2014-04-09 Anna Forslund | Tags: Anna Forslund, Climate Change, COP20, loss and damage, UNFCCC
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Anna_Forslund

Anna Forslund,
Programme Manager,
Climate Change and Water
Stockholm International Water Institute

 

Seminarieblogg: Energi och Vatten – en livsviktig förening

Kanske börjar jag äntligen få upp ögonen för hur energi och vatten faktiskt hänger ihop. Den främsta anledningen att 2014 av FN utsetts till att fokusera på vatten och energi är just att få fler att inse att det som kallas klimatpolitik eller energiproduktion handlar om vatten.  Det gäller såväl  inom vatten- och inom energivärlden som för politiker, konsumenter och företag. Vattnets roll är mångfacetterad; det finns med både som en resurs, en förorening, en produktionsinsats och ett distributionsmedel för värme.

Världsvattendagen mini 1

Världsvattendagen mini 3


Sambandet mellan vatten och energi är komplext

Talarna på Swedish Water House Världsvattendagen-seminarium fokuserade på vatten och energi från olika vinklar. Under dagen avhandlades allt från globala energitrender till vatten och energi som förutsättningar för hållbar utveckling. Det senare innebär att vatten och energi-frågor bör sättas i fokus för bistånd och i FN:s arbete mot hållbarhetsmålen. Att även vattenrening – som vi tar för givet här i Sverige – kommer till en hög energikostnad men skulle kunna bli en mer produktiv resurs om vi lade om vårt idiomatiska tänk från vattenreningsanläggningar till energianläggningar är en intressant tanke. För det faktum att vattenrening kostar som det smakar vet alla som betalar kommunal skatt eller driver vattenverk. Men det finns ny teknik för att kostnadseffektivisera och samarbeten som kan underlätta.

Den svenska och norska vattenkraften som ofrånkomligen är basen i det svenska energisystemet kommer kunna kompletteras men inte helt ersättas med andra förnyelsebara källor och där har vi en fördel gentemot Europa om vi ska kunna bibehålla effekten i systemet. Men det behövs fortfarande en långsiktig politisk överenskommelse så att företag vågar göra de investeringar och satsningar som behövs om vi ska ställa om till ett fossilfritt energisystem. I paneldiskussionen var många rörande överrens om detta - även politiker - men en faktisk överenskommelse lär vi inte se innan valet.

Det budskap som gjorde störst intryck på mig formulerades av Professor Gustaf Olsson, Professor vid Lunds Universitet. Han talade kraftfullt om det beroende av fossila bränslen som enligt International Energy Agency (IEA) kvarstår (upp till 80 procent år 2035), kommer höja jordens medeltemperatur från 2 till 4 grader. Och det är en skillnad på länder som finns eller inte finns!

Världsvattendagen mini 2


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Elin Weyler
Programme Manager
Swedish Water House

 

Q&A: Åse Johannesson on Sweden's potential to transform disaster risk reduction

A new policy report from Swedish Water House calls for an emphasis on integrating resilience-building into development, and expanding Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) efforts beyond humanitarian aid.

Flooding-Pakistan
People collect water from Oxfam tanks in Nowshera, Pakistan, after the devastating 2010 floods. Flickr / Oxfam International

The report "Water and Risk: Developing Sustainable and Resilient Communities" was produced by the Swedish Water House Cluster Group on DRR, led by SEI Research Fellow Åse Johannessen. The group has worked for three years to raise awareness of water issues within climate policy and DRR, aiming to inform Swedish policy and international cooperation. The group has emphasised resilience-building and preparedness. Water issues as part of DRR are highly relevant in the context of the UN climate negotiations and the Sustainable Development Goals process. Below, Johannessen explains why Sweden is well positioned to lead on DRR, and key ways in which it could do so.

Q: What motivated this report, at this particular time?
A: We have been working together for three years, and now is a good time to make an impact, as our recommendations can feed into the Swedish position on the next global action plan for DRR – the Hyogo Framework for Action (2), which will be decided upon in 2015. Sweden has also launched a new platform for its international development cooperation, with DRR as very prominent priority, although the strategic direction and specifics still need to be defined.

Q: How big a role does Sweden play in disaster risk reduction?

A: Sweden plays a major role, as it is one of the most important donors to the main DRR institutions, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). But it has yet to leverage that position to determine where the money goes. To really influence the global debate, Sweden needs an informed and explicit DRR policy, based on consultation with Swedish and global experts and practitioners.

Q: You note that Sweden, like most countries, has focused its DRR efforts on humanitarian aid and building resilience after disasters occur. Why is that not enough, and how does DRR need to change?

A: Most disaster risks today are created not by natural hazards alone, but by unsafe development. This is especially true in rapidly urbanising places, where a lot of surfaces have been paved over, so the water cannot drain and creates flood risks which were not there before. We need a fundamental shift, towards proactive planning and investment, building resilience, and addressing the underlying causes of risk.

Q: How might such an approach work in practical terms? Can you provide an example?

A: Some actions are cheap and easy, but can make a big difference. For example, building parking lots with surfaces that infiltrate water, rather than impervious pavement, can reduce urban flooding and disease for the urban poor. Public-private partnerships are crucial for small and larger-scale implementation. DRR needs to be associated with this type of activities as well, and not just with risks that have already become severe. DRR also definitely needs to be mainstreamed into development programmes, and better linked with humanitarian efforts. The international community needs to get its act together and coordinate for impact, and focus less on smaller projects and short-term results.

Q: How would such a change affect the countries that benefit from Swedish development and DRR assistance? Would proactive measures come at the expense of post-disaster humanitarian aid?

A: No, we are not talking about moving around resources from humanitarian aid, but rather understanding where disasters really originate. Let’s just take the example of the floods in Pakistan in 2010. Sweden provided much-needed humanitarian aid, but afterwards there could have been much more reflection about the underlying causes of this disaster and how to build capacity so these things will not happen again. We need to start to learn from past events and connect the dots, and to realise how poorly planned development can build up risks over time. If we don’t start now, the costs for emergency response will be even higher in the future.

Q: Your report focuses on Sweden’s foreign policy, but you also write about domestic implications. How might Sweden benefit from a more proactive, integrated approach to DRR at home?
A: Sweden does not have many catastrophic floods or droughts, but the lack of coordination and integration between flood and water quality management is a concern, especially with socio-economic and environmental implications. We also have very outdated legislation on water flows, which results in many uncoordinated activities in a river basin.  We would really need planning of water flows at that level, which is one step above where planning is currently initiated (at the municipal level). The EU policy on floods is being implemented in Sweden, but this is work in progress. The willingness is there, but concrete steps of how to go about it is still to be seen.

Flooding-Uppsala
Flooding in Uppsala, Sweden, in April 2013. Flickr / Barbro Björnemalm

2014-02-19 Åse Johannessen | Tags: water, risk, disaster risk reduction, policy brief
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Åse

Åse Johannessen,
Research Fellow,
Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)

SWH-Water and Risk-web-1

Download the report

"Water and Risk: Developing Sustainable and Resilient Communities"

 

Swedish Water House releases new policy papers

Swedish Water House has recently published three policy papers and one background report. The publications sum up the work of last year's cluster groups and focus on on renewable energy, water and risk, and transboundary water management. Read and download them directly below!

SWH-HydropowerAndBioEnergy-web  SWH-Water and Risk-web-1  SWH-TWM-web-1

2014-02-14
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Transboundary water co-operation in the Middle East

Last Monday I had the opportunity to travel in Israel and the West Bank together with the organisation Friends of the Earth Middle East and New York Times Journalist Thomas Friedman.

Red Sea

We visited Hebron industrial area as well as witnessed the Kidron Stream outside of Jerusalem – a stream largely made up of sewage water since there is not agreement on how to deal with this sewage water between Israel and the Palestinians.

It is in the context of conflict, occupation and challenging relations that the parties need to find ways to cooperate over their transboundary waters. Israel and Palestine share much of the same resources and in the ongoing US-led negotiations between them water is one instrumental part.

It is the topic of cooperation over transboundary waters that I made a contribution to the UNESCO World Social Science Report 2013 with the title “Glass half full or half empty? Transboundary water co-operation in the Jordan Basin”.

The conclusion is that it is not a question of either or but we can see water being an issue were cooperation is happening but also were conflict persists. It is important to move beyond mere blue prints of either or and analyze if the cooperation brings justice, equity and better access for all. Let us hope that the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are able to produce a water outcome that is for the good of both peoples in this troubled region.

  • Link to the chapter of the World Social Science Report 2013 containing the article
  • The full World Social Science Report is being presented in Stockholm today between 09:30-12:00. Read more about the launch here.
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Anders_Jagerskog
Dr. Anders Jägerskog,
Counselor at Embassy of Sweden
Amman, Jordan

 

Integrated flood risk management in Sweden

Flooding

Even though Sweden does not have any catastrophic flood risk such as countries like Bangladesh, or the Netherlands, there are anyhow socioeconomic risks associated with not investing enough in flood risk reduction. Integrated flood risk management takes advantage of the win wins of addressing not only flood risk but also other risks related with water flows such as eutrophication and environmental degradation.


To discuss this topic more in depth, the cluster group for water and disaster risk reduction at the Swedish Water House/SIWI invited a few key experts and representatives of the main actors to a seminar in November 2013.

In Sweden, county administrators have observed a slow but steady tendency for development to find its way to low lying locations, which end up being flooded from time to time. This development makes it difficult to adopt a preventive approach in the future – too late to prohibit more development, and too expensive and difficult to relocate or change land use. Integrated flood risk management could provide a comprehensive and preventive approach needed.

This management approach could potentially be realised by the implementation of two European Directives: The EU Water Framework coordinated by The Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (HaV) and the EU Flood Directive coordination by the Swedish Civil Contingency Agency (MSB). MSB has, as a first step of implementing the Flood Directive in Sweden identified 18 areas with potential significant flood risk. In the future stages there will be more focus on smaller flows, where MSB welcomes cooperation with others agencies, for example HaV. In most other European countries the Flood Directive and the Water Framework Directive are coordinated by the same agency. Having them at separate agencies will require a lot of joint activities by MSB and HaV to realize the synergies and guide future implementation. The future steps also include the County Administration boards –the regional representation of the governmental institutions, to make flood risk maps and management plans.

To adapt the Swedish flood risk approach to these two directives and to develop inte-grated flood risk management in Sweden will require effort in a few key areas, which are summarised below:

Firstly, Sweden’s traditional approach to manage water flows is based on an outdated legislation on water and drainage. When urban areas develop, the amount and speed of storm water runoff is increased due to increase of impervious surfaces. The management of water flows – through land drainage structures, ditches and dykes, are very difficult to change, requiring consensus of all owners - often several landowners, who have agreed to collaborate under a joint property society. The Swedish legislation is set up to require action by each joint society; one by one, so it takes decades to implement change. With climate change predictions, extreme precipitation is likely to increase 20 -25% by 2100 putting even more pressure on drainage and water flow management. It is also likely with more “monster rains” one which hit Copenhagen on 2 July 2011 with 150 mm rain in 2 hours. Swedish urban areas are not prepared for such water volumes. To trigger action in these areas some argue that more specific guidance is needed to make up for the gaps in legislation.

Secondly, planning frameworks are inadequate. The role of the municipal comprehensive planning is strong in Sweden, but the water flows go beyond municipal borders and work at river basin scales. Larger planning frameworks also encourage a mix of measures including upstream management which is more diffuse, and to move away from predominantly investing in local structural measures. This also gives new opportunities for recreation, culture, and nature. This require functional and effective platforms for bottom up collaboration as there are many actors involved and often a lack of clear responsibilities between them.

Thirdly
, on the urban scale, some argue the tools exist but are not used; and the action is lacking to prepare for such “monster rains” as in Copenhagen. But for example places like Härryda, Malmö or Helsingborg, have already adopted adaptive storm water management to cope with larger flows.

Fourthly but not least important, financing is needed for preventive and mitigating measures, with the rationale that this is an investment which pays back to society later on.

Read more about the seminar here.

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Åse
Åse Johannessen,
Research Fellow,
Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)

 

The water and sanitation utility of the future

In December 2013 I went back to my old, beloved university, University of Luleå (LTU), for the 20th anniversary of Sanitary Engineering as a research subject at LTU. I was asked to give a presentation with sanitation and 2050 in mind, and I immediately knew that I wanted to talk about the water and sanitation utility of the future. I also immediately knew what I think are important corner-stones for a utility of the future.

So, there and then, I had my whole presentation together in five minutes… But I decided to take a step back, and ask friends, acquaintances and contacts within the sector what their first thought is when they hear “the water and sanitation utility of the future”, to get a sense of whether my immediate thoughts were matched with a tad larger sector thinking. I sent out that very question to about 100-120 people, more or less equally divided between Swedish and international colleagues, friends, acquaintances and sector contacts in my email address book. From the answers (approximately a third answered) I created word clouds, see the English one below1.

Sanitation Word Cloud

The pictures, even if ever so cool, did not turn out quite as clear as I wanted so at the presentation itself I found I needed to help show the patterns I, as the receiver of the answers, could actually see. For the international answers I found three main trends pertaining to service delivery outreach, organisation and the technology/environment: The utility of the future (i) provides sustainable services for all2, (ii) is efficient, financially stable, customer-oriented, and provides reliable and sustainable services3 and (iii) is an innovative, systematic problem solving energy and nutrient producer4. The input from the international sector colleagues thus provides a comprehensive picture of a future water and sanitation utility should achieve and is totally in line with my “dream utility thinking”.

Several international sector colleagues focused on the importance of innovation, which I would like to dwell somewhat further on. One utility colleague explained that he thought innovation absolutely key both for financial sustainability and for customer satisfaction. He also observed that most utilities tend to be risk averse with the result that methodologies stagnate and these utilities will ultimately find themselves surpassed by utilities that embrace innovation and new approaches. I think this is spot-on what we need for the future: innovative utilities, whether it comes to technology, financial management, or institutional set-ups.

So how is innovation fostered within utilities? Storbjörk and Söderberg (2003)5 has outlined some important pre-requisites for utility innovation: (i) active and responsibility-assuming stakeholders, (ii) common values between core stakeholders in terms of a shared world vision, shared goals and shared problem picture, (iii) legal framework and political support allowing innovative actions, (iv) shared risks and responsibilities, (v) access to resources, both monetary and knowledge, (vi) communication with users, and (vii) an arena for participation and conflict management. This may seem overwhelming at first sight but with the exception of legal framework, political support and access to resources, all of which are part of an enabling environment dependent on the society and policital support as a whole, all other points can be worked on within the utility and its stakeholders immediately, with minimum resources.

Utilities that go for an innovation approach will clearly be the winners in a future society, with universal, customer-oriented, efficient, sustainable, energy and nutrient producing access to sanitation. eThekwini Water and Sanitation in Durban, South Africa6 is an excellent example of an innovative utility already today.

As for the answers from the Swedish sector colleagues they strongly correlated to the international answers, focusing on organisational and environmental/recycling issues, but without the concern of universal access to services since that is not a burning issue in a Swedish setting. I was happy to see that innovation was also mentioned as a cornerstone for the utility of the future from some Swedish sector colleagues. Swedish utilities definitely have the enabling environment in place, with access to resources, legislation in place that supports innovation and space to take action so there should be no stopping Swedish utilities from avoiding technical and institutional stagnation and embracing an innovation approach to service delivery. Some interesting things do take place currently e.g. in Södertälje with blackwater treatment in Hölö, discussions of separate blackwater collection in H+ in Helsingborg, models for community treatment plants in Västervik, legal clarification on where and when water and wastewater jurisdictions should apply in areas with existing on-site systems7 etc but they are nevertheless surprisingly few, given the golden opportunity the Swedish wastewater sector has for innovation.

My suggestion to Swedish utilities is to start a utility innovation revolution, to be bold, take some risks, join hands with relevant stakeholders and to start making really good use of eg the VINNOVA “Innovation Procurement” funds set aside for meeting societal challenges8. From where I sit, with my sanitation glasses on, few things can be more fit for these funds than to invest in the development of innovative water and sanitation systems, fit to deliver customer-oriented, efficient, sustainable, energy and nutrient producing services in the future.

References:

  1. www.wordle.net/create
  2. Words like ”inclusive”, ”equitable”, ”pro-poor” and statements like ”sustainable services for all” and “strategies to serve rich and poor alike” came from several international sector colleagues.
  3. Most comments came on organisation, which underpins the utter importance of looking at institutions and organization when it comes to service delivery. “Accountable”, “assurance”, “efficient”, “utility that adapts to its customers in real time”, and “financially sustainable” were some of the inputs from sector colleagues. Other were concerned with the set-up of the utility and it was suggested from one sector colleague that client ownership at nonprofit will be the future model and another sector colleague thinks that the future utility will be a facilitator providing knowledge and ideas only.
  4. “Energy-efficient nutrient harvester”, “Innovation is a major contributor to change management and the economic running of a water and sanitation utility, which leads to satisfied customers”, “innovation”, “reduction in the use of water, reuse of byproducts - waste as a resource and recycling of water”, “lean organization that operates a fully sensored network which will be a source of heat for millions of urbanites”, and “water-less flush toilets” were some of the feedback related to technology and the environment.
  5. Storbjörk, C. and Söderberg, H. 2003. Plötsligt händer det – Institutionella förutsättningar för uthålliga VA-system. Urban Water.
  6. www.durban.gov.za/City_Services/water_sanitation/Pages/default.aspx
  7. www.ekolagen.se/documents/EkolagenUddevallaslutrapport20130508.pdf
  8. www.vinnova.se/en/innovationsupphandling/
2014-01-05 Elisabeth Kvarnström | Tags: Elisabeth Kvarnström, sanitation, innovation, water and sanitation systems
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Elisabeth-Kvarnström
Elisabeth Kvarnström
Sanitation planning specialist
Urban Water

 

World Energy Outlook 2013 report presentation

The Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications invited Dr Fatih Birol, Chief Economist and Director of Global Energy Economics at the International Energy Agency (IEA), to present some of the key findings of the “World Energy Outlook 2013” report to an extended audience on December 11th, 2013 at the Swedish Parliament’s 2nd chamber.

The seminar started with a speech by the Minister for Information Technology and Energy, Anna-Karin Hatt, in which she among many other things emphasised her deep commitment to the high ambitions Sweden has in terms of alleviating climate change and the necessary move towards a sustainable energy future.

Dr Fatih Birol took the floor and mentioned that the IEA recently had agreed to a joint climate statement for the first time in its history. Even if not to somewhat balance that particularly positive piece of news, he also said that when it comes to climate change, and despite a renewed focus on energy efficiency, CO2 emissions continue to rise and we are currently on track towards a global temperature increase closer to 3.6 degrees, i.e. well above the recognized “target” of 2 degrees.

The world energy scene as such is rapidly changing and major tenets are being rewritten. Shale gas and shale oil is changing the energy flows over the world and previous importers are becoming exporters (e.g. USA and Brazil), the Middle East moves from being an energy exporter to major energy consumer. Canada is moving its exports from USA to SE Asia; Russia - facing competition from other countries – is turning towards the Asian market as well. China, India and SE Asia are likely to have 65% of global growth by 2035 and the primary energy demand will be found there.

While 2/3 of the emissions that lead to climate change come from the energy sector and climate change remains a big concern - fossil subsidies are still increasing (544 billion USD 2012), all the while high energy prices are pressuring policymakers. In comparison, the total subsidies for renewables were 101 billion USD 2012, 50% of which in EU. Fossil fuels thus continue to dominate the global energy mix with 82% and despite investments in renewables, this will only drop to 75% in 2035.

Overall there will be a huge increase in new power generation globally, both net additions and replacement of retired plants. Renewable power generation is growing, mainly hydro and wind, the intermittency of wind and solar PV will have implications for the costs and design of power markets.

Another big challenge was the global differences in energy prices, particularly the prices for natural gas and electricity that are up to five times higher in Japan, three times higher in EU and 2.5 times higher in China than in the US. This has significant implications for the costs and competitiveness for energy intensive industries and subsequently also for job creation (energy intensive industries currently employs 30 million people in Europe).

In the panel was in addition to Dr Fatih Birol and Anna-Karin Hatt, Maria Sunér Fleming, Director for Energy and Policies at Confederation of Swedish Industry and Svante Axelsson, General Secretary of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation.


WaterEnergyOutlook
Bo Diczfalusy (moderator), Maria Sunér Fleming, Anna-Karin Hatt, Dr. Fatih Birol and Svante Axelsson.

The analysis seems not to really have taken water challenges sufficiently into account: the new primary energy mix (unconventionals and renewables) is more water intensive (shale oil needs 7 barrels of water for 1 barrel of oil, biofuel needs up to 3000 litres of water for 1 litre of ethanol) and the conversion of primary energy to electricity already uses a lot of water (95% of withdrawals in Slovenia, 87% in Hungary, and 73% in Germany and France).

The water and energy nexus thus seems be something – to an extent – that is overlooked, even in some of the major analysis currently taking place. SIWI could surely contribute to solutions through its expertise as well as by being a conduit between various effected stakeholders going forward.

A summary of the World Energy Outlook 2013 report.

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Peter Kogg,
Programme Officer
Swedish Water House

Jens Berggren,
Director
Stockholm Water Prize and Stockholm Industry Water Award

Ingrid Stangberg,
Programme Officer
World Water Week and Prizes

 

Increased donor focus on water in agriculture

Agricultural production requires three things - a seed, soil and water. Despite this simplicity, agricultural production continues to be a challenge due to the complexity linked to growing human populations and climate change.

traktor

There is today an increased global awareness on the importance of food production, especially after the food price crisis in 2008 and increasingly scarcer water availability. The result of this awareness can now be seen in the increasing investment in water for agriculture by the donor community over the past few years and the Swedish resource base is further encouraged to provide its input into this sector, e.g. through the USAID/Sida “Securing Water for Food” fund that was launched November 2013.

Irrigation has been questioned for its environmental impacts, but when well designed and executed it can provide food security and be a critical part of a climate adaption strategy. Large scale agriculture projects had a big boom in the 80’s, but the outcomes of these projects were questionable (see evaluations from the time period in the references below). During the 90’s, agriculture was limited to being a part of the environmental agenda, and the number of investments to the agricultural sector were minimised. In 2002, the then called “Rural Development Department” of the World Bank took back its old name, “Agriculture and Rural Development Department”, and this marked the start of a big change in focus, by the donors, back toward the importance of feeding the planet.

The World Bank investments in irrigation and drainage projects increased from an all-time low in 2000 to an all-time high over the past 4 years in number of supported projects as well as in funding levels. Other donors are following suit, as shown in the African Development Bank’s vision for Rural Infrastructure Development which includes a focus on large scale irrigation schemes and the Swiss Development Cooperation supporting small scale farm irrigation through the International Water Resources Institute.

Today there are large investments being made in irrigated agriculture that give promise for the future, e.g. the Shire Valley Irrigation project in Malawi supported by WB, where a total of 42,000 ha are to be irrigated, focused on small scale farming areas. The lessons learned from the large agricultural projects from the 80’s ensure that projects today have a greater focus on small and medium enterprise development and involve community participation by placing more decision making power with the people on the ground through e.g. water user organisations and community ownership models. The environmental and social impacts of any large scale investment need to be addressed in full but investments like these are needed, especially in Africa, to continue to develop markets and establish an improved food security situation in countries affected by climate change. The Swedish experiences and resource base on participatory planning processes and cooperative development can give good guidance for investments such as these to be successful and sustainable.

The Sida funded Swedish International Agriculture Network Initiative (SIANI) is an effort to strengthen the Swedish resource base by creating an arena for knowledge sharing.  It is essential that the Swedish resource base give their input to discussions and debates in global media on the importance of promoting an agriculture agenda in international development efforts and thus ensure enhanced investment on the ground.

For further reading on the increased focus on water in agriculture:

Project examples:

2013-12-19 Kristina Mastroianni | Tags: food security, agriculture, Niras, Kristina Mastroianni, irrigation, aid
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Kristina Mastroianni
Specialist in Sustainable Agriculture at NIRAS International Consulting

 

Rapport från NOM5 Down Under 2013 – IWA Natural Organic Matter Specialist Conference

I oktober 2013 anordnades den 5:e konferensen om naturligt organiskt material (NOM) i International Water Association (IWA)  och Australian Water Associations (AWA) regi.

Dagen innan konferensen började fick vi möjligheten att åka på studiebesök till två dricksvattenproducenter då jag fick se dels en stor pilotanläggning där man renar behandlat avloppsvatten i en trestegsprocess (ultrafilter, omvänd osmos och UV-desinfektion) innan vattnet injiceras för produktion av articifiellt grundvatten (Bild 1). Denna teknik används i fullskala i bland annat Orange County i Californien och är en relativt ny teknik vars applikation sannolikt kommer att öka i områden med växande vattenbrist.

EL1
Bild 1 Vattenprover från de olika reningsstegen (vänster) genom processen (höger) där man producerar articifiellt grundvatten från behandlat avloppsvatten i Perth, Australien.

Vi fick även besöka ett vattenverk där man använder MIEX (Magnetic Ion Exchange) i fullskala (Bild 2). Detta är en teknik som har utvecklats i Australien men appliceras även i t.ex. USA och undersöks för närvarande i pilotskala på Lovö Vattenverk i Stockholm.

EL2
Bild 2 Dricksvattenbereding med MIEX på Wanneroo Vattenverk, Perth, Australien.

Konferensen hade ett tydligt fokus mot dricksvattenproduktion och hur man ska hantera de ökande halterna av NOM i ytvatten i flertalet områden i världen, inklusive Sverige. Under tre fullspäckade dagar genomfördes ca 70 muntliga presentationer gällande bl.a. a) karakterisering, mätning och övervakning av NOM, b) NOM som prekursorer till desinfektionsbiprodukter, c)  koppling mellan NOM och klimatförändringar och d) processer inom dricksvattenproduktion för att reducera NOM såsom membrantenkik och jonbyte. Cirka 200 forskare, professorer, doktorander och processingenjörer medverkade och deltagarna hade en internationell bakgrund med representanter från t.ex. Australien, USA, Japan, Frankrike, Saudiarabien, Storbritannien, Kanada, Holland, Tyskland och Kina.

Själv höll jag en presentation under konferensens sista dag där jag bl.a. visade resultat från en studie av klorerade desinfektionsbiprodukter som detekterats med en ultrahögupplöst masspektrometrisk metod i fyra svenska vattenverks dricksvatten. Det var en bra erfarenhet, särskilt då det var min första muntliga presentation på en större internationell konferens.

Då ökande halter av NOM i svenska ytvatten är ett växande problem för landets vattenverk, men även i andra länder, så var det av stor vikt att få ta del av andras erfarenheter gällande analys och rening av NOM. Om två år ska dessutom konferensen anordnas i Lund och det var därför väldigt bra att hela sex stycken svenska deltagare hade tagit sig till Australien. Nu ser vi med spänning fram emot den 6:e specialistkonferensen om NOM och hoppas att vi kan locka många internationella deltagare till Lund!

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EL4
Elin Lavonen,
Doktorand
Institutionen för Vatten och Miljö
Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet (SLU)

 

Rapport från International Symposium on Regional Groundwater flow i Xi'an, Kina

I Kina bor ca 20% av världens befolkning, samtidigt finns där ca 5% av världens färskvattenresurs. Det får mig att inse att: 1) Kina är väldigt stort och 2) det krävs nog en bra strategi för att få vattnet att räcka till hela befolkningen. Detta var jag till viss del medveten om när jag åkte till Xi’an för att delta i en konferens om regional grundvattenströmning.

Groundwater
Det som fängslade mig under konferensen var alla stora tal. Ett av dessa stora tal, 600 miljarder, representerar Kinas årliga vattenanvändande i m3, vilket är ungefär 200 gånger så mycket som i Sverige. Talet hundra däremot, kanske inte verkar så stort, men det innebär ett stort problem. Det är nämligen så många meter som grundvattennivån har sjunkit under staden Cangzhou (en sjumiljonersstad ca 18 mil från Beijing) till följd av pumpning.

Avsänkningen innebär inte bara att man förbrukar en naturresurs utan det finns även bieffekter. I och med den stora avsänkningen ligger grundvattenytan, i ett område kring Cangzhou med samma yta som Irland, numer under havsnivån. Detta innebär att saltvatten tränger in och förstör färskvattnet. Lägg därtill att risken för att vattendrag torkar ut, att grundvattenberoende ekosystem förstörs och att 60 000 m3 jord redan har försvunnit genom marksättningar.

Stora tal finns också i de lösningar som planeras. I ett vattenprojekt ska 45 miljarder m3/år omledas i kanalsystem från södra till norra Kina. För att vi i Sverige skulle komma upp i samma flöde skulle vi behöva koppla ihop Göta älv, Indalsälven och Ångermansälven.

Ett annat exempel var när en svår torka härjade delar av södra Kina under 2010. Då satte man snabbt ihop ett borr-team bestående av 2600 personer och 300 borriggar. Snart därpå pumpade man 360,000 m3/d från 2703 nyborrade brunnar, vilket kunde försörja 5,2 miljoner människor med dricksvatten.

Dessvärre är inte de största lösningarna alltid de bästa eftersom de ofta leder till nya problem. Här spelar forskingen en viktig roll och under konferensen blev det också tydligt för mig hur långt fram den kinesiska forskningen inom grundvatten ligger. Dock verkar inte forskningen användas för att försöka lösa de stora miljöproblem landet har. Därför tror jag det är viktigt att visa upp internationella exempel på hur man använder forskning för att skydda vattenresurser och motverka miljöproblem. Att mitt deltagande på konferensen skulle påverka Kinas strategi för att bevara sina vattenresurser känns inte trovärdigt, men kanske öppnade det ögonen hos någon av de många unga kinesiska forskare jag träffade där.

2013-12-18 Lars Marklund | Tags: Lars Marklund, grundvatten, konferens, Kina, Xi'an, Chalmers
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Lars-Marklund

Lars Marklund
Tekn Dr Geohydrolog
Tyréns

 

[News Stream] The Red-Dead Connection Makes a Move Forward – and the Hydropolitics Surprise

Red Sea

To connect the Red Sea with the Dead Sea has been discussed for many years. Already in the mid-19th century British officers were thinking of a connection in geopolitical terms. Later in the same century it was proposed to generate energy from the Dead Sea’s position of 390 meters below sea level. At the end of the 1960s the connection was analysed as part of a
peace process between Jordan and Israel.

On May 9, 2005 Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed an agreement to go ahead with a feasibility study to connect the two seas. Since then numerous studies, financed by the international community through the World Bank, has been undertaken.

However, in August this year the Jordanian Government decided to go ahead with its own project to connect the Red Sea with the Dead Sea. A “first phase” project costing USD 980 million will establish a desalination plant and bring 100 million cubic meters of drinking water per year to northern Jordan, including the capital Amman. “The Government has approved the project after years of technical, political, economic and geological studies” Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur told a news conference. He also referred to the 500,000 Syrian refugees that Jordan is hosting at this moment as a further argument to act now and expand the supply of drinking water.

A major critique of the project relates to the unique environment in the Jordan valley. Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) argue that a large inflow of sea water would radically change the lake’s fragile ecosystem and further increase the salinity. The current surface level drop of 1 meter per year could possibly be halted, but that is probably the only positive environmental outcome of the addition of large volumes of sea water into the lake. FoEME has argued that better solutions to the acute water situation in the region would be those of water recycling, conservation, rehabilitation of the Lower Jordan and even the import of water via a pipeline from Turkey.

However, the Jordanian Government’s decision didn’t last many months. Last week it was announced that the single Jordan initiative has turned into a regional agreement involving Jordan, Palestine and Israel. An agreement was signed last Monday at the headquarters of the World Bank in Washington DC. The concerns that Israel had regarding environmental uncertainties and Palestinian demands to be treated as an equal and have access to the Dead Sea shoreline where apparently discarded.

So what does this development tell us? One observation is probably that when water gets seriously scarce – like in Jordan today – it also takes the driver’s position in national and regional development. Not only the environment but also national politics turn second to an overarching drive towards water security. While Jordan could have pursued its single initiative, it probably turned to expensive and cumbersome to implement alone. It seemed like transboundary water management was lost as a driver for cooperation and regional development, but, again, when water gets scarce, the politics turn pragmatic. It is not possible to compromise with an empty tap. Countries have to cooperate.

Read more about the single-Jordan initiate on the following website links:

Read more about the shared, regional agreement in the following two links:

2013-12-17 Klas Sandström | Tags: News Stream, Klas Sandström, Red Sea, Dead Sea, Israel, Jordan, hydropolitics
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Klas Sandström
Dr. Klas Sandström
Programme Manager
Senior Water and
Environment Specialist
NIRAS International Consulting

 

 

[News Stream] Climate Change and Water - a developing international process

COP19
During the recent UNFCCC/COP19 conference in Warzawa the indispensable linkages between climate change adaptation and its implications to freshwater were dealt with. The issue was discussed both at side events and in relation to the Nairobi Work Programme, the Durban Platform and the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage.

In the above mentioned processes SIWI was actively involved, which can also be seen on the SIWI blog (www.siwi.org/blog). SIWI also, in cooperation with other organisations, presented some entry points to emphasise the linkages, in particular in the negotiations. See SIWI's messages at COP19 here.

It is encouraging to see that the linkages between climate change adaptation and water security are being brought up at other high-level meetings as well. During UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris, 13 November, a High-level Panel Session was organised to share experiences, views and recommendations on coping with climate change impacts on water resources in the Andes, Pamir, Tian Shan, Hindu Kush-Himalayas and in Europe. In these mountainous areas glacier melt leads to rapid retreats and higher risks of natural hazards such as floods and landslips. This poses a threat to the often vulnerable local populations and may in the long run have an even more devastating effect on water availability.

The Third Session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on Water and Health of the UNECE Water Convention in Oslo, 25-27 November, addressed climate change impacts and the need to prepare guidance on water supply and sanitation in extreme weather. Although no detailed negotiations resulting in binding texts have yet taken place, it is important to acknowledge that the linkages between climate change impacts and water availability are entering convention and protocol text, outside of the UNFCCC.

Another example is the workshop within the Drought Management Programme, jointly organised in Warsaw by the University of Life Science in Warsaw and Global Water Partnership (GWP), 28-29 October. The Drought process has been discussed by me in a piece earlier this year. Another activity where GWP is playing a crucial role is the Water, Climate and Development Programme (WACDEP) created to support integration of water security and climate change adaptation issues into development planning processes and financing and investment strategies.

The examples presented above demonstrate that the issue of impacts of and adaptation to climate change on water resources are gaining recognition - which is important. But the discussions are still mainly taking place at events with a freshwater perspective! Climate experts and climate negotiators have a tendency of seeing the freshwater aspect as less important. There is a need for SIWI and others to keep pushing for the active recognition of those linkages at climate change meetings, in particular at UNFCCC-meetings where government representatives are negotiating.

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Gunilla Bjorklund
Gunilla Björklund,
CEO, GeWa Consulting

 

Environmental Services - an Increasingly Important Asset

You cannot manage what you don’t measure – this counts for business as much as for the so called “GDP of the poor”. This was the key message from Pavan Sukhdev, CEO of the consultancy GIST and former head of the TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) Study, at the seminar “Environmental Services – an Increasingly Important Asset".

 ecosystemservices2 ecosystemservices1 ecosystemservices3
See more photos from the seminar here.

The seminar was co-hosted by Swedish Water House, the Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI), Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) and the Swedish Sustainable Investment Forum (SWESIF).

Indeed, we depend on nature in everything we do. This notion is slowly gaining ground among policy makers, bankers and investors. The organising institutions used the occasion of Pavan Sukhdev being in Sweden to receive Gothenburg’s price for sustainability to invite him to a seminar on ecosystem services targeting companies and investment firms. The more than 80 participants finally even included politicians, scientists and journalists serving for an active discussion.

Most striking was the message that the old myth of a dichotomy between development and conservation is terribly wrong. The “GDP of the poor” concept, introduced by Pavan Sukhdev, shows that the world’s poorest draw much of their livelihood and employment from forest, water and soil sectors and therefore are particularly dependent on natural resources.

Development policy must acknowledge this connection and make sure that the poorest of the world are not deprived of their resource base. The key problem is that externalities – cost effects that third parties not involved in an economic transaction have to pay for whether they want or not – are completely ignored in current reporting systems such as GDP and legal-political frameworks.

At the same time, there are direct risks in terms of business disruption, resource prices and even reputational risks associated with the ecological impacts of a company, all of them lacking quantitative analysis. But again - you cannot manage what you don’t measure.

Reporting systems turned out to be one of the critical aspects of the seminar discussion. While these systems are nowadays entirely reduced to the physical wealth of the shareholder, public, ecological, human and social capitals also have to be accounted for. Thinking of the poor farmer being exposed to other businesses’ externalities, even the roughest estimate of these effects will be better than completely ignoring them, thus mathematically saying they were zero.

There are solutions – and even though we talk about global issues like planetary boundaries, the GDP of the poor, climate change and biodiversity loss, the solutions to direct action are on the micro level, referring to responsible advertising, diminishing leverage, resource taxation and disclosure of externalities.

If still in doubt, have a look at what is at stake and see the beating heart of the global water cycle: This is not only about loving the forest – this is about 20 billion tons of water being pumped into the air daily by the Amazon Rainforest, supporting a USD 240 billion agricultural economy in the Rio Plata basin! But still, we decide to ignore negative externalities of the top 3,000 companies summing up to USD 2.15 trillion per year, and buy beef that comes with externalised costs outweighing the direct economic value by the 19-fold.
 

  • Find the seminar report, Pavan Sukhdev’s presentation and video documentation of the seminar here.
2013-12-06 Nicolai Schaaf | Tags: Nicolai Schaaf, Pavan Sukhdev, ecosystem services, seminar, risk
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Nicolai
Nicolai Schaaf,
Programme Officer,
Swedish Water House
 

 

WaterMicro 2013 - an inspiring conference

In September, I attended the 17th International Symposium on Health-Related Water Microbiology (WaterMicro 2013), which was held in Florianopolis in Brazil. This symposium is a biennial event organised by the International Water Association (IWA) Specialist Group on Health-Related Water Microbiology (HRWM).

Oyster

I got to meet many researchers from my field. I talked to colleagues with whom I have cooperated previously. For example, I got a chance to discuss in person our manuscript with the co-author from Australia. I also met and got introduced to famous researchers whose scientific papers I have often referred to in my work. It was particularly useful to meet the professor from the USA who will be my opponent at my PhD thesis defence. I hope that the contacts that I established at this symposium with both graduate students and senior researchers will lead to cooperation within various international research projects.

The symposium was very informative and helped me to explore the developments in the field of health-related microbiology. It was very useful to get to know which research groups work with questions similar to the ones we work with in our research group. I found the presentations on the topic of Quantitative Microbial Risks Assessment (QMRA) particularly useful, since QMRA is currently being widely applied in Sweden in the context of a safe drinking water supply. It was also useful to listen to the presentations on the topics that I do not work with directly. The broad scope of the symposium helped me to widen my knowledge of the field.

My presentation concerned the use of hydrodynamic modelling to simulate the transport of faecal pathogens in water sources, in order to provide input data for QMRA. Faecal contamination of drinking water sources is an important cause of waterborne disease outbreaks. Knowledge on pathogen concentrations in source water is needed to assess the ability of a drinking water treatment plant (DWTP) to provide safe drinking water. However, pathogen enumeration in source water samples is often not sufficient to describe the source water quality. In our study, the norovirus concentrations were characterised at the contamination source, i.e. in sewage discharges located upstream of the DWTP. Then, the transport of norovirus within the water source (the river Göta älv in Sweden) under different conditions was simulated using a hydrodynamic model. The model provided a prediction of the norovirus concentrations at the intake of the DWTP. Based on the predicted concentrations in source water, the required reduction of norovirus at the DWTP was calculated using QMRA. The required reduction was compared with the estimated treatment performance at the DWTP.

It was very encouraging and motivating to get positive responses regarding my presentation. I found the symposium one of the most interesting and relevant events that I have attended during my PhD project. The only minor disappointment was the weather – it was raining almost all the time, and, consequently, the technical tour to the shellfish farm had to be cancelled. I definitely hope to attend the next WaterMicro in 2015, which will be held in Portugal.

2013-12-03 Ekaterina Sokolova | Tags: Ekaterina Sokolova, mikrobiologi, IWA, WaterMicro 2013
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E-Sokolova
Ekaterina Sokolova,
Chalmers Tekniska Högskola

 

Rapport från IWA-konferensen 7th International Conference on Sewer Processes & Networks

I slutet av augusti i år deltog vi i den sjunde upplagan av IWA konferensen ”Sewer Processes and Networks” som gick av stapeln i Sheffield, England. De flesta deltagare var forskare och konsulter från Europa, men stora delar av resten av världen fanns också representerade med undantag av USA.

The_Edge
Konferensanläggningen i Sheffield, England

Hur man ska få igång samarbete med även detta land var något som berördes av Key Note Speaker Professor Hvitvedt-Jacobsen från Ålborgs Universitet i hans introduktionsföreläsning. Han berättade vidare om hur förståelsen för bildningsprocessen i ledningsnät för den giftiga och korrosiva gasen svavelväte växt fram och vad han trodde kommer att bli viktiga punkter att arbeta vidare med. Förekomsten av höga halter av svavelväte är något som är relativt ovanligt i Sverige om man jämför med länder med ett varmare klimat. Ett sådant land är Australien och under konferens gång presenterades ett flertal studier därifrån som har försökt begränsa uppkomsten och mildra effekterna av denna gas. Svavelväte genereras av mikroorganismer, för att få bukt med dessa hade några forskare utvecklat en elektrokemisk metod där man genom att tillföra spillvattnet mellan 5-10 volt åstadkom en kraftig höjning av pH samt frigjorde mer syre. Mikroorganismerna, som behöver anaeroba förhållanden och låga pH, deaktiveras på sådant sätt.

Vidare presenterades arbeten som rörde metoder eller strategier för drift och underhåll av ledningsnät. Idag finns många olika typer av avancerade verktyg som kan ge en stor mängd data men som måste konsolideras för att bli värdefull information för att sedan kunna ge vägledning om rätt åtgärder. Flera arbeten som presenterades syftade till att utröna vilka data som räcker för att ge ett tillräckligt bra underlag för beslut. Detta rörde främst åtgärder för drift och förnyelse av avloppsledningsnät. Sådana arbeten är viktiga så att forskning kan bidra till förändringar ute i verksamheten.


Jonathan hade en muntlig presentation om en nyss avslutad studie där vi har undersökt vilka ledningar som kan vara känsliga för ökad sedimentation när avfallskvarnar införs i stor skala. Det har visat sig att i vissa ledningar kan äggskal och andra matrester som kvarnarna inte klarar att finfördela fastna. Vår studie har försökt belysa vilka kriterier en ledning bör uppfylla för att inte riskera förhöjda halter av sediment. En faktor av speciell betydelse utöver de som man normalt dimensionerar efter (exempelvis flöde och lutning) är förekomsten av svackor på en ledning. Det är viktigt att ha i åtanke att ledningar installerade vid ett tidigare skede inte nödvändigtvis ser ut på samma sätt i nutid då sättningar i marken m.m. kan ha uppstått. Detta kan skapa svackor på ledningar där sediment kan ansamlas. En annan presentation från Nederländerna belyste just betydelsen av svackor vid formationen av fettavlagringar.

Ett område som vi var speciellt intresserad av att höra mer om under konferensens gång var tillskottsvatten i spillvattenledningar. Flera svenska kommuner har haft problem med stora pumpkostnader och dålig effektivitet bland processer på reningsverk på grund av just tillskottsvatten. Vi lyssnade därför med extra intresse när en fallstudie kring precisionen av olika metoder för att utvärdera nivån av tillskottsvatten presenterades av konsultföretaget Environmental Monitoring Solutions Ltd. från östra Europa. Staden där studien utfördes hade under en längre tid noterat att man hade ett tillskott på inkommande vatten till reningsverket om ca 30 %. För att lokalisera källorna till tillskottsvattnet testades ett antal metoder såsom att undersöka flödet för att se om det verkade oproportionerligt mot det förväntade. Andra metoder var att analysera parametrar för avloppsvattnet som skulle tyda på utspädning exempelvis temperatur och konduktivitet. Utvärdering av resultatet fortskrider i skrivandets stund, de första indikationerna man har tyder på att man lyckats ringa in vissa problemområden. Dock har man erfarit problem med att intervallerna för flödesmätningarna inte varit tillräckligt täta, vissa toppar i flöden kan ha missats. Vi tror att internationella erfarenheter från just denna typ av projekt kan bli vägledande för svenska kommuner när man funderar på vilken metod man ska använda och när denna ska appliceras.

Konferensens välkomstmottagning hölls i ett gammalt industriområde som byggts om till museum, Kel-ham Island Museum. Som underhållning till snittarna och drycken sattes en ångmaskin i jätteformat igång som i en tidigare era drivit ett valsverk. Tydligen den mest kraftfulla ångmaskin som fortfarande är fungerande i Europa. Konferensmiddagen hölls i Sheffield Town Hall. Som alltid åker man inte till England för att äta god mat, men genom strategiskt val av middagsbord med legendariska avloppsledningsforskare såsom Thorkild Hvitvid Jacobsen, Richard Ashley, Neil Armitage och Bryan Ellis hade vi ändå ett stort utbyte av middagen.

2013-11-28 Annelie Hedström, Jonathan Mattson | Tags: Annelie Hedström, Jonathan Mattson, konferens, IWA, avloppssystem
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Annelie
Annelie Hedström,
Luleå Tekniska Universitet

Jonathan-Mattsson
Jonathan Mattson,
Luleå Tekniska Universitet

 

The role of trade in aid – report from Sida development talks


SidaDevTalks

In the development talks organised by Sida (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) this Monday the speakers on the “Global Value Chain” topic seemed to agree that it offers new opportunities for developing countries.

Speakers included representatives mainly from the trade organisations so it should not seem strange that they are supporting the idea of trade liberalisation promoting poverty alleviation. But the reflections on the role of the global, but also increasingly the regional value chains, were still interesting. The outlook of GVC gives a somewhat new approach to trade policy since it includes the role of intermediate products and the segmentation of the production. There are some risks for lock-in effects and for developing countries especially, it is important to upgrade along the value chain, and improve the value added in order to gain from it.

The role of environment and water was touched upon in few of the presentations, but James Zhan of UNCTAD cautioned that the lack of a global trade institution (but not trade regime), means that there is need for strong environmental, social and governmental framework for trade and investments policies – that by the way should be more integrated (have we heard it before?!). Evdokia Moise of OECD also emphasised the need for inclusive growth. She also pointed out that energy as well as water, ICTs and transport sectors are imperative infrastructural services for the GVC, with the addition of singling out energy reliability as the most important infrastructure service.

Apparently there is a role for trade in aid. Sida is keen on this and supports research and initiatives. Private-public partnerships is very much a key in this area. The private sector is also very much willing to work in this way, at least according to H&M’s Tobias Fisher who was one of the seminar's panelists. He also was the one speaker that put women empowerment and water in the first sentence of his speech so we look forward to following the development of this area.

2013-11-27 Elin Weyler | Tags: Elin Weyler, Sida, Development Talks, trade, aid, global value chain
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elin-weyler-new
Elin Weyler,
Programme Manager
Swedish Water House

 

För miljön i tiden – en resa som manar till reflektion

 

Lördagen den 23 november samlades konst, vetenskap, politik, näringsliv och kungligheter på Dramaten för den unika föreställningen ”För miljön i tiden”. Utmaningarna och arbetet för en levande planet stod i fokus när Kung Carl XVI Gustaf uppmärksammades för sitt miljöengagemang under 40 år på tronen.

För miljön i tiden
Se fler bilder från föreställningen här

Samtal mellan politiker, aktivister, ekonomer och artister varvades med musik och filmklipp när Dramatens publik togs med på en miljöresa genom fyra decennier och in i framtiden. Från kärnkraftsdebatt och säldöd till dagens globala klimatkonferenser. Det var en känslofylld föreställning som tog sig an den svåra frågan hur vi kan hjälpa när världen skriker efter mer handling och alltför lite görs. Medverkade gjorde bland annat artisten Sofia Jannok, EU-parlamentarikern Isabella Lövin och Sveriges första miljöminister Birgitta Dahl, som var en nyckelperson i miljövågen på 80-talet.

Klimatförändringarna och deras krisartade effekter på vår jord kan inte längre ignoreras.  Johan Rockström, professor vid Stockholm Resilience Centre, betonade att jorden hittills haft en förbluffande återhämtningsförmåga våra ohållbara vanor till trots. Men nu har planeten börjat sända ut signaler på att den inte längre klarar sig. Vi har utvecklats från en ”liten värld på en stor planet till en stor värld på en liten planet”. För framtiden behövs ett förändrat tankesätt och en samhällsmodell som är både ekologiskt, social och ekonomiskt hållbar.

Den unika sammansättningen av politik, konst, näringsliv och vetenskap var tilltagen för att hitta nya sätt att nå ut till och påverka människor. Samarbete över gränserna är kritiskt om vi ska klara utmaningarna från klimatförändringar och ett hårt tryck på ekosystemen. Enbart fakta och kunskap räcker inte för att få människor att gå från tanke till handling och det är där konsten har en viktig uppgift. Fotografen Mattias Klum framhävde att bild och film är effektiva medel att länka hjärna och hjärta och beröra människor på djupet.

Pjäsens medverkande var rungande överens om att det behövs ett större folkligt tryck på politiken och mer koordinerade insatser för miljön. I en föreställning som manade till reflektion och eftertanke var det huvudsakliga budskapet att varje enskild individ kan bidra till klimatarbetet. Varje beslut vi tar, varje handling vi gör, har betydelse. Och vi har inte en minut att spilla – världen måste räddas nu.

formiljonitiden-SWH
För miljön i tiden är ett samarbete mellan Dramaten, Kungliga Skogs- och Lantbruksakademien (KSLA), Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Stockholm International Water Institute(SIWI), Stockholm Resilience Centre och Världsnaturfonden WWF. För miljön i tiden har möjliggjorts med stöd från Svenska Postkodlotteriet.

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Sanna-small
Sanna Gustafsson,
Communications Officer,
Stockholm International Water Institute

 

Global Landscapes Forum: "Shaping the climate and development agenda for forests and agriculture"


Är det möjligt att producera tillräckligt mycket mat till de 9 miljarder människor som prognostiseras befolka jorden 2050, utan förödande påverkan på världens skogar och kraftigt ökad klimatpåverkan? Vad är drivkrafterna för myndigheter, lokalsamhällen och näringslivet till att ställa om jordbruket och nyttjandet av skogen till långsikt produktivt och lönsamt, i en klimatpåverkad verklighet? De frågorna är centrala i klimattoppmötet som pågår i Warsawa, COP19.


Autumn tree3

Organisationerna CIFOR  och CCAFS  menar att om man inkluderar all de sociala, institutionella, ekonomiska och naturliga resurser som finns i ett landskap - hellre än att fokusera enskilt på resurser från skogen, staden, vattnet eller jordbruket - så vidgas perspektiven, komplexiteten blir större och därmed även möjligheten till framgångrikt och uthålligt nyttjande av resurserna.

De har därför ersatt de traditionella ”Forest Day” och ”Agricultural Day” med ”the Global Landscapes Forum” under det pågående mötet i Warsawa. Under två dagar har forskare, beslutsfattare, ministrar, näringslivet, internationella organisationer och NGO’s delat och diskuterat erfarenheter och resultat.  Engagemanget och tron på potentialen i att arbeta i landskap var stor. Många exempel presenterades, där landskapsperspektivet resulterat i både ökade skördar, minskad risk och ökad vinst för företagen, livskraftiga ekosystem och minskad klimatpåverkan.
Men, en central fråga som hänger kvar efter forumets två dagar är hur man ska definiera landskapet. Inga konkreta eller enhälliga slutsatser gjordes. Snarare diskuterades att avgränsningen bör vara flexibel, den kan vara administrativ, ekonomisk, kulturell, etisk, ekologisk eller geopolitisk – beroende på syfte och omständigheter.

I vattenrelaterade projekt är det ofta naturligt att avgränsningen är avrinningsområdet. Vattnets roll för fungerande landskap är fundamental, för både fungerande skogar, jordbruk och civilsamhällen. Ändå saknades vatten som en grundläggande del av landskapet under forumets diskussioner. Jag ser fram emot att pay-offen för nästa omgång av ”Global Landscapes Forum” är ”Shaping the climate, water, and development agenda for forests and agriculture”.

Läs mer om forumet på www.landscapes.org.

2013-11-20 Lotta Samuelson | Tags: Global Landscapes Forum, UNFCCC, COP19, Lotta Samuelson, klimatpåverkan
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Lotta blog
Lotta Samuelson,
Programme Manager,
Swedish Water House

 

Human rights in the time of disaster

Waiting for the ‘super typhoon’ Haiyan to make landfall over Vietnam after killing more than ten thousand people in the Philippines, the situation is tense. More than half a million people have been evacuated.

A year ago, Typhoon Son-Tinh brought devastation and death after it unexpectedly changed course and struck Vietnam southeast of Hanoi. The farmers I interviewed there last June had strong memories of how the weather forecast had failed to prepare them. Strong winds also led to power outages and knocked out mobile phone signals ahead of the disaster – few were therefore reached by the news in time. The farmers suffered from continued power cuts for weeks after Typhoon Son-Tinh. Among other things, this meant that many were not able to pump water from their wells, cook, or boil water before drinking it.

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The human right to water and sanitation is matched by an obligation resting on the state to take positive action. Though a natural hazard may overwhelm the local response capacity, this obligation remains in times of disaster. For instance, the right entitles to access to a minimum amount of safe drinking water to sustain life and health, which corresponds to an obligation to organise temporary water treatment and distribution facilities for those affected. It also includes the right to be protected from discriminatory disaster relief based on gender, ethnicity, age or other factors, and to have one’s personal security upheld while exercising the right to access.

There are several guidelines to promote and facilitate a rights-based approach to post-disaster relief. With increasing population density and tourism in coastal areas, it would seem as if such are becoming ever-more relevant. Examples come from the Sphere Project, the Brookings Institution and the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing. Guidelines issued by the Indian Housing and Land Rights Network were implemented by the Government of Odisha after the cyclone that displaced more than two million people there recently. Evacuation and rehabilitation poses challenges to governments that need to ensure that the multiple human rights and dignity of the affected population are upheld.

Governance capacity is tested after every natural hazard. When a disaster reaches the scale it did in the Philippines it is hard to hold local government agencies accountable when relief work begins. Many victims of a disaster are left to their own devices when the need for safe drinking water is desperate. And though humanitarian assistance often comes in quickly, the case of Haiti shows how weak local institutions can thwart efforts to rebuild a functioning, equitable society for many years.

Wise from last year’s experience, the farmers prepared well for Haiyan but remained worried. When it reached Vietnam the typhoon had weakened to a tropical storm. It also changed direction slightly again and made landfall further north. With only six casualties and relatively small material damages, Vietnam was lucky this time.

2013-11-19 Jenny Grönwall | Tags: Jenny Grönwall, Vietnam, climate change, disaster, Haiyan, typhoon
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Dr. Jenny Grönwall
Programme Manager
Stockholm International Water Institute

 

[News Stream] Time for Change in Botswana

Botswana is the fastest-growing economy in the world.  With a multiparty constitutional democracy since 1966 it has gone from being one of the poorest countries in the world to having middle-income status. Clearly this has improved livelihoods dramatically, but the rapid economic development has put increasing pressure on water resources and the land is now suffering from water scarcity.

Botswana
Cobe River, Botswana by Graf-flugplatz

Botswana's politicians are saying that the poor old days of pit latrines are over, and that the country is moving towards becoming a modern society with flushing toilets and sewer systems. The people are eager to change. But, how sustainable is this vision? Botswana should definitely have the same right to develop as other countries. But is this a wise investment in a world that should be crying for new water saving and recycling solutions? Does it make economic sense to build sewer grids in a country as big as France but with a population of only 2 million people?

During one year (2012-2013) Swedish experts and Botswana professionals has worked together in a jointly funded project focusing on sustainable sanitation and wastewater management. From the project it became clear there are no incentive schemes for developing new innovative water saving solutions in Botswana. Households need to pay the full amount for their on-site sanitation and will not prepared to take any risks. The government is only financing public sewer systems, which means that decentralized solutions are not even considered by planners. Using a participatory approach the project identified a wide range of feasible solutions that has much lower investment cost than public sewer systems and in addition create benefits for agriculture and energy. Investing in these alternative systems should be of interest for planners and decision makers, but a change in attitudes is needed to make sure these systems are adopted.

A turning point for the project was when Botswana, as part of the project, received a visit from South Africa. The Head of Water and Sanitation in the City of Durban (eThekwini Municipality), Mr Neil Macleod, came to share his experiences from serving a population of about 3 million people, quite similar to Botswana. Mr. Macleod showed how they, over the last 13 years, have been working towards a vision of service delivery to all types of customers in line with resource and water conservation - all done in close dialogue with water users. Their vision is a water-saving and resource recycling system, which might be very decentralized in technology terms, but in a centrally planned system promotes entrepreneurship and innovation based on local conditions, as well as involves planners and academics. The presentation made quite an impact and Botswana officials have since then visited eThekwini to learn from their work. The project has contributed to a shift in water management practices in Botswana. Let’s see how things look in a couple of years down the line!

Links for further reading:

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Sten Stenbeck with an elephant

Sten Stenbeck
Sustainable Development Advisor,
Urban Water

 

Rapport från International conference on multiphase flow 2013, Sydkorea 26 maj - 31 maj 2013

I maj deltog jag i en konferens om matematisk modellering. Matematisk modellering är ett av många verktyg man kan använda för att undersöka VA-tekniska system så som beredningsprocesser på ett vattenverk eller reningssteg på ett reningsverk. Fördelen med att använda en modell är att man kan undersöka en process under både normala och ansträngda förhållanden. Genom modellering finns möjligheten att studera ett flertal scenarier till en relativt låg kostnad.

Möjligheterna att skapa större och mer komplexa modeller ökar ständigt. Jag var framförallt intresserad av presentationer som handlade om partikelmodellering, vilket är ett av mina huvudsakliga forskningsområden. Jag valde att besöka föreläsningar och presentationer vilka handlade om turbulensmodeller, transportfenomen för partiklar, aggregering av partiklar och olika modeller för partikelsimulering. Under konferensen blev jag intresserad av en metod för att modellera flödet kring partiklar vilken heter Lattice Boltzmann. Metoden har flera fördelar jämfört med andra konventionella CFD-metoder, speciellt i hanteringen av komplexa geometrier och interaktion på mikroskopisk nivå.

Detta kan låta väldigt teoretiskt och långt från verkligheten, men en ökad erfarenhet inom partikelmodellering kan ha många praktiska tillämpningar. En presentation av J. Sansalone beskrev tillämpningar inom dagvatten modellering ‘Hydrodynamic Separation of Particle-Laden Flows Transported by Urban Drainage’. Med bra modeller kan vi simulera effekter av exempelvis klimatförändringar och på så sätt bidra till att skapa hållbara VA-system i framtiden.

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Mia-Bondelind
Mia Bondelind
Forskare, Vatten, Miljö och Teknik
Chalmers

 

[News Stream] Is there a global trend towards a more integrated approach on water, food, energy and climate issues?

The international process, weather linked to water security, food security or adaptation to climate change, shows tendencies of applying a broader and much more integrated perspective. This perspective is strongly needed as in fact ever since the Rio-process the different sectors have had a tendency of applying what lately have been talked about as a “silo”-approach. But when preparing the UN World Water Development Report 3 “Water in a Changing World” (2009) the discussions on finding solutions to the pressure on water resources outside the so called ‘Water box’ were intense. Since then an even broader approach has been promoted – where water specialists agree that from a policy and management perspective not even Integrated Water Resources Management is enough. The so called “nexus approach”, where all sectors are integrated in the management/governance perspective, has grown out of the innovative Bonn Nexus Conference which was hosted by the German government in November 2011.

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“It is increasingly clear: There is no place in an interlinked world for isolated solutions aimed at just one sector. They can have often fatal consequences in other sectors. If the world is going to reduce hunger and eradicate poverty, then achieving security for water, energy and food for people is critical.” (nexusconference.web.unc.edu/whats-the-nexus)

Two planned international conferences, one within the framework of the UNFCCC/COP in November and one science/policy-conference in 2014 can serve as examples of how such an approach is now getting increasingly broader.

The Global Landscapes Forum (www.landscapes.org) sessions such as “Towards a sustainable landscape approach: New generation of integrated watershed management (IWM) programs for rural development, resilience and empowerment” and “Landscapes – a holistic approach to forests, water and agriculture systems in the context of climate change” clearly shows that a nexus perspective will characterise the discussions. One session, titled "What are the challenges for food security and livelihood under changing climate and how can landscape approach contribute to responding to these?" intend to broaden the perspective of the climate change-negotiators, from a pure climate change mitigation perspective to a sustainable landscape perspective – a landscape on which people are depending.

The other conference which clearly demonstrates the move towards a more integrated approach on water, food, energy and climate is the Nexus 2014: Water, Food, Climate and Energy Conference (http://nexusconference.web.unc.edu). The conference will bring together scientists and practitioners working in government, civil society and business to discuss how and why the nexus approach can and should be applied in local contexts as well as on international level. The conference intend, among other things to identify how science can inform policy processes, launch a Nexus Academic-Practitioner Network, and give input to the UN Sustainable Development Goals process. As this is a conference sponsored by UNDESA, UNDP and the World Bank among others the outcomes will, no doubt, have an impact on intergovernmental processes.

These are only two examples describing the broader cooperative approach increasingly taken by the water, agriculture, climate and energy sectors. Hopefully we will see – and take part in – more international initiatives like these. They help us to think, look and work outside of the water box. And, most important they will show decision-makers the necessity of applying a nexus approach in their work!

 

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Gunilla Bjorklund
Gunilla Björklund
CEO, GeWa Consulting

 

UNFCCC Workshop highlights links to sea grass and permafrost in balancing climate instability

I visited Bonn last week for a workshop hosted by The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The event was dedicated to exploring the “technical and scientific aspects of ecosystems of high- carbon reservoirs not covered by other agenda items under the Convention”. During the two-day workshop current scientific knowledge of ecosystems of high-carbon reservoirs was mapped. Analysis included tracing the status, rate and losses of ecosystems as well how to manage them for reducing carbon emissions. Fascinating research into the wondrous diversity that composes our planet was shared, including the miracle of one of the oldest organisms identified in the world, the humble sea grass species, Posidonia oceanica.

Posidonia oceanica , more commonly known as ‘Neptune Grass’ or ‘Mediterranean Tapeweed’, is estimated to be between 80,000 and 200,000 years old. This figure was calculated by Australian researchers who measured its annual growth rate (15 kilometers and 6,000 metric tonnes) to pinpoint this impressive birthdate. It is mind blowing to note that this organism, which resides today in Mediterranean and Australian seas, has been in existence since the first records of human life began. What is even more remarkable is that this species plays a major role in resolving one of the most challenging issues facing humanity today; the ongoing changes in our climate. Posidonia oceanica is one of several examples of so called “high- carbon reservoirs”. That is, ecosystems which store carbon instead of releasing it to the atmosphere and act as ‘carbon sinks’, helping to protecting us from the perils of unbalanced and powerful greenhouse gases.

Other famously recognisable carbon reservoirs include the Amazon rainforest, tropical peat forests, mangroves, peat lands and permafrost. In the high altitudes close to the North and South poles, permafrost (frozen soil) locks vast amounts of carbon away from the atmosphere. Increasing global temperatures threaten vast amounts of permafrost lands causing them to melt and releasing carbon in the form of methane gas. Permafrost is estimated to hold around 1, 672 Pg (petagrams) of carbon. This figure is almost double the amount of carbon currently recorded in our atmosphere today. The risks from release into the atmosphere are great and continued permafrost thaw could prove devastating for life on earth.

This risk was the red thread that appeared during the two days of presentations in Bonn. All of the high carbon reservoirs ecosystems are rapidly disappearing because of changes in land and water management. The central element for the balance of many of these ecosystems lies in the availability of water. A regular and stable influx of water means carbon can be stored safely in soil. However drainage and water logging incidences can cause soil to dry up, consequently speeding up the release of metric tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. In addition, our ancient sea grass friend, Posidonia oceanica, is diminishing at a rate of 17 % per year. With that loss, we lose not only the capacity to store carbon, but we also lose the ability to provide other important ‘ecosystem services’ to support biodiversity. This includes the balance of mangrove forests, spawning areas for economically important fish species as well as the regulation of water quality and quantity.

Despite this seemingly negative forecast, there is an upside. Andrey Sirin from the Russian Federation, eloquently expressed that we can directly impact and influence our carbon risks through the sustainable management of these important ecosystems. Our political and personal decisions will directly determine if these ecosystems maintain their roles as carbon sinks or if they shift to become dangerous carbon sources. This idea forms much of the impetus for the work that we do at SIWI. We aim to strengthen capacity and generate knowledge for better water management to enhance mitigation and the adaptation capacity of ecosystems to climate change.

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Anna Forslund
Anna Forslund,
Programme Manager, Stockholm International Water Institute

 

Getting a taste of the "Swedish model" in forest management

SIWI recently hosted an Indonesian delegation during a study trip focused on climate, forestry and sustainable tourism in Sweden. As the group travelled from Övertorneå in the far north to Åtvidaberg in the south, valuable insight into Swedish forestry management was gained and a valuable partnership grew stronger.
 Rautarouva Eco Park
See all photos from the trip on SIWI's Flickr

The study trip was arranged under the umbrella of Sida’s Partner Driven Cooperation (PDC), a method for development aid based on mutual interests for cooperation. PDC supports Swedish partners in selected countries to build lasting relations that contribute to poverty alleviation and sustainable development. SIWI facilitates the PDC work until the end of 2013 and forestry, climate and sustainable tourism have been identified as focal areas in preceding workshops.
 

The week-long trip was filled with visits to various destinations: municipalities engaged in ecotourism, state forests and privately owned forests, providing a broad overview of Swedish forest governance. Planning the study tour, the hope was to provide real-life examples of sustainable forestry management and tourism activities, experiences that could be brought home. The opportunity to visit forests and see both differences and similarities with their own eyes was much appreciated among the Indonesians. One particularly memorable tour took the group through Rautiruova Eco Park a few kilometres above the polar circle. Dressed in borrowed overalls to endure the cold of approaching winter, the Indonesian delegation were guided through an old Swedish pine tree forest, got close and personal with reindeers, tasted wild berries, and drank the clear water from a forest spring. The group also ate an outdoor lunch with moose meat soup, all arranged by students at Övertorneå folkhögskola studying to become nature guides.
 

Encouraging was that the Indonesian delegation expressed that Sweden’s forest governance model is perceived as world leading. The Governor of Central Kalimantan, Agustin Teras Narang, stated that “it has the whole package: the knowledge, the technology, and the right human resources.” Indonesia, constituting the world’s third largest area of tropical rainforest, is currently in an interesting phase impacting sustainable forest management. The country’s forest is important not only for the national economy and local livelihoods but also for the global ambitions to limit emissions of climate gases. However, large parts of the Indonesian forest have been logged and the land degraded - an estimated 1.17 million hectares only between 2003 and 2006. Indonesia is committed to preventing further deforestation, mainting carbon stock and biodiversity in the forests and creating livelihood for the welfare of local communities and the whole nation. This means finding incentives to reduce emissions from forested lands, making low-carbon investments with high added-value, and creating innovations in forest management in its roadmap to inclusive sustainable development.
 

Transformation is challenging work. The delegation emphasised that the Indonesian governance structures must be changed to better support sustainable use of forests. Indonesia must also find ways to diversify incomes for people living in remote areas or forests, which enable them to manage the forests sustainably. Promoting small scale tourism has potential to contribute to development of local and regional income, but needs sustained support from government to become viable. Numerous Swedish stakeholder participated and look forward to continued involvement in the elaboration of pilot projects, and the visit hosted by SIWI was an important step in this direction. The Indonesian partners were seemingly impressed by what they saw in Sweden. The critical step now is to bring insights home and share it with others, and find useful applications for the new knowledge in the Indonesian context.
 

The relationships formed between Swedish and Indonesian stakeholders during the visit will grow into self-sufficient partnerships of mutual benefit before the year is over. The Indonesian delegates will elaborate specific areas of collaboration in workshops at home and within a month formulate suggestions for Swedish partners on joint activities and projects of mutual interest. Potential Swedish partners are universities, vocational schools, forest owners and associations as well as the Swedish Forest Agency and tourism sectors. Let’s hope the “Swedish model” will contribute to projects driving sustainable forestry management forward in Indonesia!

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Katarina Veem
Ms. Katarina Veem
Project Facilitator,
Director, Swedish Water House