Case Study

Water Security and the Sustainable Development Goals

International Center for Water Security and Sustainable Management
Publication Year:
April 28, 2020
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation

The GWSI Case Studies, ‘Water Security and the Sustainable Development Goals’, provides rich explanations on the related issues of water security while taking into context various aspects, such as governance, society, environment, and technology.


1. Water Security in Jordan

To secure water resources and achieve their continuous flow in arid and semi-arid areas of the globe is a highly challenging task because one is dealing with the “Management of Scarcity” threatened by droughts, climate changes, population growth, water quality deterioration, trans-boundary water bodies and social and political detriments. Therefore, solutions must be innovative, very strict and governed by laws and regulations applied equally to all stakeholders. Jordan, in addition to having characteristics of arid and semi-arid countries, since 1948, it has been affected by very strong refugee waves from Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq  and Syria among others and hence its water situation has been throughout very critical. But, sound strict laws and by laws and implementation of adequate water security programs allowed the country to survive and to control its very scarce water resources in an exemplary way that can be applied also elsewhere. In the current work the water security issues in Jordan are addressed and the programs, action plans and measures to achieve water security are discussed.


2. Security of Water Infrastructures against Sabotage and Damage in Jordan

Due to regional instability in the Middle East (Syrian and Iraqi wars), which were connected to many threats and damage to the critical water infrastructures and resources in Jordan by individuals and/or terrorist groups (such as the Islamic State (Daash)). In order to secure public health and the environment, an advancing and intensified strategy for protecting water infrastructures has been launched through the “Water Infrastructures Security Department” at the Jordanian Ministry of Water and Irrigation. This paper provides explanation for the National Legislative efforts to protect water infrastructures in Jordan, where intensive monitoring has been started, covering the top priority of water resources and facilities, especially those situated at the Jordanian - Syrian - Iraqi borders. The measures are designed to protect water facilities of all types from individual or collective acts of sabotage, such as pollution, damage, violence and explosions. For that purpose the established Water Infrastructures Security Department in the Ministry of Water and Irrigation, its workings and corporations is explained with several case studies of sabotage, damage and terrorist attacks.


3. Water Governance of Large-scale CSG Projects in Two Eastern Australian States: A Comparative Analysis

The story of fracking in Australia is still unfolding and affecting rural communities, where shallow watertables, agricultural lands, community livelihoods and societal cohesion are impacted. Unconventional gas, specifically coal seam gas (CSG), released by fracking, was heralded globally as the new way forward in delivering cheaper energy for the future. The impact of gas extraction methodologies, industry governance and environmental policies adopted across different regions has influenced the broader community understanding of energy and water security, and environmental sustainability. This review assesses the use of water and environmental law to manage: a) the risk that the CSG industry may pose to Australia’s natural land and water resources, water security, and agricultural development and; b) the potential to deliver the benefits offered by CSG.

The critical drivers for CSG development, level of community involvement, government policy engagement and potential long-term benefits are examined. A brief summary of alternative strategies deployed governments to manage, contain or embargo the development of the unconventional gas industry is given. The review examines alternate legal frameworks for addressing sustainability challenges associated with large-scale natural resource (LSNR) projects. How strong leadership, foresight, appropriate governance and policy settings is required can deliver balanced outcomes for water and energy security. The methodology adopted in this paper, uses a comparative analysis of the legislative and regulatory approaches in two eastern Australian States, namely New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland (QLD) and the relevant Federal legislation that provides the governance framework for initiating and monitoring LSNR energy projects, while delivering environmental protection and water security.


4. Urban Growth Pattern and Water Supply Efficiency in Algiers, Algeria

The world is patently becoming more urbanized and water resources less available due to climate change impacts and growing demand. Cities in developing countries suffer more from water shortage and cope with by intensifying both conventional and nonconventional production. As a result, water demand satisfaction has been concretely improved but the integrated water resources management objectives are more often missed. The question is how relevant is the water demand satisfaction rate in assessing water supply efficiency and subsequently the water management sustainability?

This paper argues that some urban features matter for water supply efficiency and aims to better understand the relationship between them. Specific objectives are to (i) assess the water demand satisfaction rate and (ii) compare against a couple of indicators characterizing the urban setting. Algiers is selected as the demonstrative case for this study. Results show that (i) no indicator characterizing the urban setting would alone be able to describe the local water context and (ii) water supply efficiency strongly depends on water resources availability and the demand level as well as on the urban growth pattern that might aggravate if not engender water related risks.


5. Building Water Security through Drinking Water Protection Planning with Indigenous Communities in Canada

Water security, measured by access to safe drinking water and sanitation (United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #6), is something that most Canadians take for granted. However, Indigenous communities in Canada continue to experience frequent and often long-lasting boil water advisories, unreliable drinking water service and inadequate sanitation infrastructure - all expressions of water insecurity. This paper reports the outcome of six innovative water planning initiatives that aim to improve access to safe drinking water within Indigenous communities in Canada. While these planning initiatives help to identify conditions contributing to water insecurity, as well as specific remediation measures, these planning initiatives also reveal Indigenous traditional knowledge relating to water. This knowledge, or water relationship, includes the healing and medicinal properties of water, the importance of women as ‘water-keepers’ as well as the spiritual relationship with water long-held by indigenous people. These water relationships help broaden the current water security discourse to reveal a more nuanced conceptualization of water security beyond water quality and quantity. In Canada, the term Indigenous People refers to First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples. Only First Nation communities are included in this study.


6. Governing Shallow Waters: SDG 6 and Water Security in São Paulo

From 2013 to 2015, Brazil faced a severe water crisis that led 1,485 out of its 5,561 municipalities to declare a state of emergency. The year 2014 was the driest in the history of the State of São Paulo since meteorological data started to be collected in the 1930s. The drought affected over 20 million people in the São Paulo metropolitan area alone inasmuch as the volume of the city’s main system of reservoirs started to dramatically decrease in mid-2013, and was depleted in the following year. Whereas extreme weather events have caused water shortages and many other social, economic and environmental impacts around the world, the São Paulo water crisis unearthed a series of challenges in terms of water security. Besides the persistent pollution of watershed areas and poor natural resource management and planning, the absence of data, transparency and lack of room for social participation in water governance are key factors that explain the unprecedented water crisis in Latin America’s largest metropolitan region.

To be sure, the 2014 São Paulo water crisis showed that, for any metropolitan region to successfully design climate change adaptation and sustainable development strategies at large, it is crucial to understand the political nature of water security.

The aim of this paper is therefore to highlight the main causes and effects of severe water shortages in São Paulo Macrometropolis and, based on empirical evidence, share the main experiences, challenges and opportunities for water governance improvement in dense metropolitan regions. To this end, it draws on a framework of environmental governance analysis and effectiveness of institutional agreements to assess how São Paulo Macrometropolis is complying with SDG 6 targets. We argue that the lessons learned from São Paulo water crisis might strength strategies for other megacities and metropolitan areas, especially in the Global South.


7. Dimensions of Water Security in the Global Context of Sustainable Development

The contribution discusses the transdisciplinary dimensions of water security in the framework of global change syndromes according to Schellnhuber et al. (1997), as there are: Utilization Syndromes (Sahel, Overexploitation, Rural Exodus, Dust Bowl, Katanga, Mass Tourism, Scorched Earth), Development Syndromes (Aral Sea, Green Revolution, Asian Tiger, Favela, Urban Sprawl, Disaster), and Sink Syndromes (Smokestack, Waste Dumping, Contaminated Land). Through case studies, illustrated with a cause-and-effect analysis the drivers and pressures on water resources for the global change syndromes are described, and their resulting impacts in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as Agenda 2030. In addition, we show the responses while focusing on success stories of dealing with global change syndromes. In the water-related transdisciplinary context of SDG6, the proposed topic relates further to the SDGs 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16. The syndrome approach forces systems thinking to analyze the interlinkages between sectors and approaches, and as such is a feasible teaching tool for the assessment and implementation of a Nexus approach, supporting strongly SDG17 – partnership for the goals.

The results shall support to disseminate information on water security and the SDGs, providing the water community with illustrative material, which can be used also for teaching purposes on different educational levels.


8. Microscopic Impurities in Drinking Water and Solutions

Microscopic impurities such as bacteria or microplastics have been a major threat for our society, causing numerous outbreaks and following economic loss. Current methods such as particle counter or agar culturing are used, but these methods have their own shortcomings and cannot perfectly detect drinking water contamination. Most of all, all the methods used require sampling of drinking water, which makes it hard to cope with the disaster. We propose our new solution, consisting of laser and our newly developed optic sensor, or so-called TWT sensor. This solution uses time-reversal mirror effect and light scattering to detect microscopic debris floating around the water.

In this paper, we will briefly introduce how microscopic impurities can be serious issue in water safety and what solutions are out there in the market. We will introduce features of each solutions and difficulties using each method. Then we introduce our new solution and its principle, and the significance it could have compared to conventional methods. We close this paper with the application of the sensor, showing its impact to water security.


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