How can better river management help meet Sustainable Development Goals?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Cranfield University will be leading an international project to look at how better and more integrated river management could help deliver UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The project, ‘Social-economic-environmental trade-offs in managing the land-river-interface’, will support the design of integrated and sustainable policies and offer practical solutions for improved river and surrounding land management that helps deliver improved sustainability.

With improved management, the Cranfield team believe that rivers and the surrounding land can help meet a number of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, for example

  • No poverty – supporting rural livelihoods by mitigating soil erosion and flooding;
  • Zero hunger – through sustainable food production, agroforestry and preventing soil erosion;
  • Clean water and sanitation – through pollutant trapping and bioremediation;
  • Affordable and clean energy – utilising modern biomass and hydropower energy generation;
  • Sustainable cities and communities –reducing risk and safeguarding cultural heritage;
  • Climate action – through land-based climate mitigation and afforestation;
  • Life on land – maintaining habitats and biodiversity.

The project will focus on the Beas-Sutlej transnational river in the Himalayan region whose land, river and water drive the economy of the region through hydropower and irrigated agriculture. Working with partners in China and India, the project aims to create a model which will enable those involved in the management of the land and river-based eco-systems to understand how their actions can support the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr Robert Grabowski, Lecturer in Catchment Science at Cranfield University, who is leading the project, said: “Rivers and the land that surrounds them are focal points of economic activity and development in most countries. They are essential to humans for water supply, agriculture, transport and energy; hold significant importance socially and culturally; and have critically important ecological habitats that sustain high biodiversity.

“However, they are rarely managed in a holistic manner. Institutional boundaries, socio-economic drivers and barriers, and complex interactions in environmental processes limit severely our ability to integrate policies across them and the surrounding land. As a result, management decisions often have unintended social, economic, cultural and environmental consequences locally and further upstream and downstream.”

Read the full article here

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