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Perspectives on Water Management in Urban Regions
(2017, 28 pages, 4 Figures, 2 Tables, ISBN: 978-3-8047-3746-4)
More than half of the human population currently lives in urban areas and according to the United Nations, cities will be the living space of an additional 2.5 billion people by the year 2050 (UN, 2015b). The proportion and speed of this urban growth increase the pressure on water resources, and this is often seen negatively. However, this challenge can also be a chance to substantially improve the quality of life in urban areas, if we consider how we want to live tomorrow and actively shape our future. As a group of interdisciplinary young scientists authoring the current science policy report, we agreed that we want to live in cities where sustainable, integrated watershed management guarantees public health and environmental safety. This requires sanitation and rainwater management, solutions for dealing with contaminants, such as micropollutants, as well as information flows and public involvement in water management.
Integrated watershed management as part of urban planning takes into account interdisciplinary relationships and connects different sectors, for example city administration, health providers and water managers. It also ensures access to sustainable, adaptable, effective and resilient rain and wastewater management, which includes the specific needs of vulnerable groups. Such a rain and wastewater management considers water reuse as a possibility to increase the available water supply. A growing number and increasing concentration of micropollutants in the aquatic environment are a health risk. It is important to understand their fate and effects and to develop appropriate management strategies. In such decision-making processes, all aspects of water management should be included and local stakeholders involved. Moreover, comprehensive and optimized information flows improve the understanding of water-related problems and must be used to help communities to set priorities, take action and assume responsibilities. Education, capacity building and community engagement are particularly important for creating ownership, identification with water resources and environmental consciousness.
Further research is needed in these areas to better understand challenges and chances of water management in growing urban areas and to develop scientifically based solutions. This scientific knowledge will build the basis for policy-making and implementation of actions in urban water management. In this way, we believe a better and more desirable urban environment can be achieved for future generations.
Head of International Relations Department
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