Recent debates within the UN system, which are also reflected in the Prototype Sustainable Development Report, have called for policy-making that is supported by a strong evidence-base. Making research relevant, timely, accessible and instructive, thus, strengthening science-policy interfaces is one of the key challenges of the 21st century. As much as humans must adapt to a changing world and build resilience (in economic, political, social and environmental terms), transformation and innovation of methods and approaches that are suited to address current and future challenges need to form an integral part if sustainable outcomes are to be achieved. Scientists who have made important contributions towards articulating an analytical framework for sustainable management of environmental resources
have emphasized the role of property rights for resources, such as forests, rivers and livestock pasture (Ostrom, 1990). The literature on institutions has highlighted the challenge of fragmented decisionmaking processes and structures that lead to the creation of silos across disciplines, regions, government departments and ministries. This in turn hinders inclusive and comprehensive approaches
founded on improved understanding of trade-offs and synergies that is necessary for integrated management of environmental resources to occur.
The Hindukush-Karakoram-Himalayan (HKH) mountain ranges and highlands of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) contain large mountain glaciers of the world, and nourishes large Asian river basins with significant amounts of snow and glacier melt, thus are susceptible to global warming and climate change. Therefore, precise and accurate policy making and sustainable water resource development are vital to cater for needs of food and power generation of billions of people. Precise and accurate policy making and sustainable water resources development are dependent on the accuracy of hydrological modelling and its future forecasts, though contain inevitable significant uncertainties. Current study discusses
hydrological modelling uncertainties, biases and their causes in the Upper Indus Basin (UIB), which is originating from the HKH-TP region.
Because of economic development, increasing global population, and increased levels of affluence, future global demands for food, energy and water resources are expected to increase by 50%, 50% and
30% respectively (Beddington, 2009). However, with the world’s food, energy and water resources already experiencing shortfalls and stresses (Bizikova et al., 2013), there is an urgent need for nexus-oriented approaches to address unsustainable patterns of growth. The importance of these three resources has been highlighted in many publications, and they have been included in the Sustainable Development goals, which are to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy, and the achievement of food security and sustainable agriculture.
Water, energy and land resources are all interconnected and should not be viewed in isolation. Agriculture and industry (including energy) account for 70% and 22% of global water withdrawals respectively (Howells et al., 2013); 7% of all energy is used for water supply; and 4% of energy is directly used in agriculture (Bazilian et al., 2011). The need for integrated resource planning for
energy, water and land is becoming increasingly recognised by international institutions, national governments and businesses (Hoff, 2001). A policy that affects one resource can result in unexpected
consequences for another. There is a need for policy makers, institutions and businesses to understand better the connections between these resources and to integrate them in future plans for a sustainable future. To be able to achieve this, the UN and other institutions should promote holistic analysis of the interconnections between resources.
Accessing water for productive agricultural use remains a challenge for millions of poor smallholder farmers, who constitute the majority of producers in sub-Saharan Africa (sSA). In 2006, 225 million hectares of land was cultivated in sSA. However, the total area equipped for irrigation was 7.2 million hectares, only 3.2% of the total cultivated area.
Hunger, malnutrition and poverty still persist, particularly in rural areas, despite recent growth in agricultural GDP. Improving access to water, while removing economic and institutional constraints, could enable millions of smallholder farmers to adopt irrigation and successfully grow their way out of poverty. At the same time, this action will reduce hunger and malnutrition.
Facilitating productivity gains by improving farmers’ access to water will help governments and international agencies to achieve many of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are four interrelated measures that will be of particular use. These are: increasing investment in sustainable water infrastructure (from small scale to large scale) and technologies to augment water supply; guaranteeing water and land rights for poor smallholder farmers, including women and young people; including smallholder farmers in viable value chains and improving their access to adequate financial and extension services and markets; and increasing water use efficiency and agricultural productivity. These measures are essential if sSA governments are to attain the SDGs of ending poverty and hunger, and achieving food security and improved nutrition by 2030.
The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets related to water quality must be ambitious and comprehensive if they are to prevent a global water quality crisis. This is because the scale of water pollution is immense. Every day, humans generate millions of tons of solid and liquid waste. Much of this waste is discharged untreated to water bodies, severely polluting the water and damaging human health, ecosystems and industries.
A 2014 analysis supported by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) shows that 24 Mha of irrigated croplands lie within urban areas and 130 Mha of irrigated croplands are located within 20 km of urban areas (Thebo et al., 2014). A significant proportion of this farmland is irrigated with diluted wastewater. In and around 75% of all cities in developing countries, water used for irrigation is highly polluted (Raschid-Sally and Jayakody, 2008).
For decades, the fate and impacts of waste and wastewater were poorly considered in the global development agenda spearheaded by the Millennium Development Goals. However, it is now widely recognized that water quality targets need to go beyond access to sanitation facilities. They must address the fate of wastewaters and their impacts on the environment and human health, and be relevant for developed and developing countries alike.
Providing everyone with access to water is vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on health, livelihoods and economic growth. Providing women and the poor (lowincome earners and those who are landless) with access to water is especially important in rural and urban fringe areas. A series of far-reaching strategic solutions and policies need to promote social inclusion to achieve the SDGs, including to:
• Train and build the capacity of women and marginalized socio-economic groups so that they can have more active leadership roles in water management systems, at household and community levels.
• Train policy makers, planners and those in water organizations to actively consider women and poor farmers’ water needs.
• Develop specific technologies and inclusive institutions and policies so women and poor farmers can participate in water use and management systems in the context of prevailing gender norms and local realities.
• Improve women’s access and rights to water, through informal channels and legal mechanisms.
If people are prepared, they are much more resilient to natural disasters. Knowing the global hotspots of flood and drought risk, and quantifying the level of risk for individual locations, can ensure local inhabitants are as well equipped as possible to handle the worst climate-related events that come their way.
Humanity faces daunting water management challenges, as demand for water hits limits of supply and competition increases between agriculture, industry, cities and the environment. Climate change, too, will affect the availability of water. Worldwide, the focus of conversations about water governance has moved from resource development to resource management. To be effective, water governance needs to directly identify and respond to local problems and needs. It needs to take into account the local institutions, knowledge, socioeconomic, political and environmental conditions.