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A source-to-sea perspective important to ensure coordinated implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (2017-01-10)

The complex inter-linkages between the SDGs and their targets represent an important challenge that needs to be considered when implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In order to achieve healthy aquatic, coastal and marine ecosystems and sustained provision of ecosystem services along the source-to-sea continuum, a balance needs to be struck between development objectives and related trade-offs, both upstream and downstream. Stronger integration between the SDGs can be achieved if we implement the 2030 Agenda from a source-to-sea perspective.

The study “Source to Sea – Linkages in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” assesses the relative strength of possible links between SDG 6 on water and sanitation and SDG 14 on oceans. It also examines the links between these two SDGs and the broader 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The study was carried out by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) and was commissioned by the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management (SwAM).

Source-to-sea at GEF Council

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) was established at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, to help tackle our planet’s most pressing environmental problems. Since then, the GEF has provided $14.5 billion in grants and mobilized $75.4 billion in additional financing for almost 4,000 projects. The GEF works in a number of focal areas: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Chemicals & Waste, Land Degradation, Forest Management/REDD+, and International Waters. In the area of International Waters, GEF supports projects in programs to address transboundary problems in river basins, lake basins, aquifers and large marine ecosystems and several source-to-sea oriented projects targeting nutrient reduction and/or applying ridge-to-reef approaches and integrated coastal area and river basins management.

The Council is the GEF’s governing board of directors, responsible for developing, adopting, and evaluating policies and programs for GEF-financed activities. The Council members represent 32 GEF constituencies– 16 from developing countries, 14 from developed countries, and two from countries with economies in transition.

Over the past year, the S2S Platform has supported the GEF Scientific and Advisory Panel (STAP) in an assessment of challenges and opportunities of governance and management in the source-tossea continuum. On June 7th, the STAP Information Document “A conceptual framework for governing and managing key flows in a source-to-sea continuum: Summary and policy recommendations for the GEF Partnership” was presented at the 50th GEF Council Meeting, including a set of recommendations for how the GEF can continue to build on its extensive portfolio across different focal areas and further scale up investments to support source-to-sea priorities.

S2S Platform at the GEF International Water Conference “Scaling up GEF investments – from source to sea and beyond – in the context of achieving the SDGs”, 9-13 May 2016, Sri Lanka

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) unites 183 member countries—in partnership with international institutions, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector—to address global environmental issues. The GEF International Waters (IW) focal area targets transboundary water systems, such as shared river basins, lakes, groundwater and Large Marine Ecosystems. Today, the cumulative 25-year GEF IW portfolio consists of 242 projects with about US$1.5 billion of GEF grants and $8.7 billion in co-financing invested in 170 different GEF recipient countries. The GEF Biennial International Waters Conference (IWC) is the signature learning event for the GEF IW portfolio.

The 8th Biennial International Waters Conference (IWC8) took place on 9-13 May 2016 in Sri Lanka and was organized under the slogan “Scaling Up GEF IW Investments from Source to Sea and Beyond in the Context of Achieving the SDGs”.

Over the past year, the S2S Platform has supported the GEF Scientific and Advisory Panel (STAP) in an assessment of challenges and opportunities of governance and management in the Source to Sea continuum. During the conference, a session was organized by the S2S Platform Secretariat to introduce the work of GEF/STAP and the S2S Platform and to discuss recommendations for the GEF partnership to support robust program and project design in the source-to-sea continuum. Representatives from GEF/STAP, ICPDR, GWP-Med, SACEP and GEF Small Grants Programme participated as presenters and panelists to the session.

The key messages from the session “Governance and management of resources in a source-to-sea continuum – challenges and opportunities” highlighted the importance of:

  • Political will and incentives for collaboration between upstream and downstream stakeholders
  • Information, which identify sources of problems, to create such political will
  • Options for green and blue economic growth, to provide incentives for collaboration
  • Addressing power differentials among collaborators and stakeholders
  • Governance, to strengthen institutional frameworks and mechanisms with mandates across all geographical segments in a source-to-sea system

The discussion in the session noted GEF’s unique position when it comes to its ability to support source-to-sea initiatives at the transboundary level. There is an opportunity to capitalize upon existing thematic and geographic linkages between the different GEF focal areas in source-to-sea systems and further scale-up efforts to address source-to-sea priorities.

The STAP Information Document “A conceptual framework for governing and managing key flows in a source-to-sea continuum: Summary and policy recommendations for the GEF Partnership” is now submitted to the 50th GEF Council Meeting, which will take place in June 2016.

S2S Platform at World Water Week: The Swedish Minister of International Development Cooperation on “Source to Sea Management for sustainable growth and development”

At the S2S event at the 2015 World Water Week, the Swedish Minister of International Development Cooperation highlighted the importance of understanding system linkages from upstream to downstream in her keynote address.

 Jakob Granit, GEF/STAP and SEI, presented the work currently undertaken by GEF/STAP and SIWI in collaboration with the S2S Platform, discussing the importance of Governing key flows in a Source to Sea Continuum. The subsequent panel discussion between the Minister and representatives of GEF Secretariat, UNDP, FAO,  Zennström Philanthropies, GWP and Orange-Senqu River Commission emphasized the need to consider land-river-sea linkages to enable the realization of many of the Sustainable Development Goals and highlighted the importance of learning from the experiences made in coordinating the management of land, water, coastal and marine resources from different parts of the world.

S2S Platform at WWF-7: Green investment for blue economy

During the World Water Forum-7, the Action Platform for Source to Sea Management (S2S Platform) organized a session on “Green Investment for Blue Economy – Managing sources for coastal and marine water quality improvements” as part of theme 3.3 Ensuring water quality from Ridge to Reef. The session advanced the discussion on the challenges and opportunities in governance, capacity, financing and monitoring of sources of pollution and their downstream impacts and contributed to the recognition of the importance of coordination between the governance and management of freshwater, land and marine systems and prevention of the pollution of surface, ground and coastal waters and oceans in the Daegu-Gyeongbuk Recommendations to the Ministers at the 7th World Water Forum.

The S2S Platform was established at the WWW in 2014 by key actors from the freshwater, coastal and marine communities to support integrated and innovative approaches to governance and management from source to sea. SIWI acts as Chair of the S2S Platform and is responsible for its secretariat function.

S2S Platform at World Water Congress 2015: The salty dimension of water governance

The World Water Congress Special Session on the “Salty dimension on water governance – the link between upstream management and downstream impacts” examined barriers to and opportunities for managing resources with a “source to sea” perspective, recognizing the linkages between land, freshwater, coasts and marine areas.

The session was organized by the Action Platform on Source to Sea Management including presentations on the work of Marine Scotland, UNEP-GPA, IUCN’s Ridge to Reef initiative and UNESCO’s MedPartnership work on coastal aquifers, followed by a panel discussion. The session reaffirmed the need to recognize multiple uses and trade-offs in the source to sea continuum and to learn from examples of benefit sharing between different zones, recognizing the importance of understanding the different systems from source to sea to better manage the connections and the challenges posed by the division of institutional responsibilities in source to sea contexts.