Applying the ecosystem approach through iwrm river basin case study
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Applying the Ecosystem Approach through IWRM- River Basin case study. Hillary M Masundire Chair, IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (outgoing) Department of Biological Sciences University of Botswana [email protected] What is IWRM ?.

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Applying the Ecosystem Approach through IWRM- River Basin case study

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Applying the Ecosystem Approach through IWRM- River Basin case study

Hillary M Masundire

Chair, IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management (outgoing)

Department of Biological Sciences

University of Botswana

[email protected]

What is IWRM?

  • A systematic process for the sustainable development, allocation and monitoring of water resource use in the context of social, economic and environmental objectives

  • A participatory planning and implementation process based on sound science, that brings stakeholders together to determine how to meet long-term needs for water and coastal resources while maintaining essential ecological services and economic benefits

  • Derives from the Dublin principles

  • Principles of IWRM

What is the Ecosystem Approach?

  • a strategy for the integrated management of land, water and living resources that promotes conservation and sustainable use in an equitable way

  • Aims at achieving the 3 objectives of the CBD – sustainable use, conservation & equitable sharing of benefits

  • Guided by 12 Principles

Some Principles of IWRM

  • Seem to variable but include

  • IWRM must be applied at catchment/ basin/watershed level

  • Integrate water and environmental management

  • A systems approach

  • Full stakeholder participation

  • Capacity building at all levels

  • Full-cost pricing alongside targeted subsidies

  • Central government to create and maintain an environment

  • Adopt best existing technology & practices

  • Equitable allocation of water resources

  • Water is an economic good

  • Strengthen the role of women in water management

Principles of the Ecosystem Approach

  • Objective setting – people’s choice

  • Decentralise management to lowest appropriate level

  • Ecosystems are inter-connected

  • Consider economic issues – avoid perverse incentives

  • Focus on ability of ecosystems to provide desired services

  • Ecosystems have limits to what they can provide

Principles of the ecosystem approach

7. Manage at appropriate spatial and temporal scale

8. Set long-term objectives to be achieved by appropriate short-term actions

9. Change in ecosystems is inevitable

10. Balance conservation and use of biodiversity

11. Consider all forms of knowledge including IK

12. Consider all stakeholders

just a few challenges?

  • Who is society? Who decides?

  • Who are ALL stakeholders?

  • What is appropriate devolvement of authority?

  • What is appropriate scale in space and time?

  • What ecosystem services to focus on – for who?

Southern African river basins (SARDC)

Why the Ecosystem Approach?

  • Provides a broad framework – for planning and implementing ALL development at all levels

  • IWRM is watercentric – a holistic approach with a focus on water

  • – a process,

  • Ecosystem approach on ALL sectors

  • An overarching strategy








The artificial paradigm

The ideal “reality”




  • Too academic – too theoretical

  • No guidance on how to apply practically

  • Is it necessary to apply all 12?

  • Where has it been used?

  • Where has it worked?

  • Gives too much power to local resources users?

  • Too much focus of nature?

  • Too much focus on economic issues?

  • Reduces the power of the nation-state?

  • Lack of understanding of ecosystem science: structure and functioning of ecosystems


  • Central governments need to know, understand and use the Ecosystem Approach as a planning and analytical tool for ALL sectors

  • IWRM should be applied within the framework of the Ecosystem Approach

  • Ecosystem approach provides policy framework, IWRM provides implementation process

In conclusion

  • The Ecosystem Approach offers an enabling framework for planning and implementing development in all sectors

  • IWRM can be a good example of how to apply the Ecosystem Approach

  • There is urgent need to develop capacity to mainstream the Ecosystem Approach

  • There is urgent need for specialised trainers and innovative training in this area.

  • Whatever we do – we should

  • Think ecosystem – Function ecosystem

  • Think locally, act globally? Act locally, think globally?

Capacity development & awareness

  • For Heads of States: 30 – 60 minutes presentations at summits

  • For Ministers: 30 – 60 minutes presentations at regional ministerial meetings

  • Breakfast seminars at up market hotels- including captains of industry & commerce

  • Build up from raising awareness to building understanding e.g. “we should capture every drop of rain that falls within our borders” “ My duty is to supply water to the people, I have nothing to do with ecosystems”


  • “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds”

  • “If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure”

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