SEI Publication

Author(s): Keys, P.; Barron, J., and Lannerstad, M.

Year: 2012

In: UNEP and SEI Policy Brief

Type: Policy brief



Link to SEI authors:

Releasing the Pressure: Water Resource Efficiencies and Gains for Ecosystem Services (Policy brief)

This policy brief focuses on a key shortcoming of commonly used definitions of ‘water productivity’: their narrow scope, which ignores many important benefits from water use.

Taking such an approach can result in water productivity gains in a single sector – usually agriculture – that are out of balance with landscape ecosystem services. Still, that has been the centrepiece of water management efforts over the last decades, especially in agriculture.

Releasing-pressure-PB-150There has been a focus on producing more ‘crop per drop’ or more ‘crop per $’, with little regard for the water needed to sustain non-agricultural ecosystem services in landscapes. This has been detrimental to the production of ecosystem services in all types of landscapes.

This policy brief, based on a report produced for the United Nations Environment Programme, explains key concepts, and suggests ways to build these insights into integrated water resource management (IWRM) practices:

• By recognising the water requirements of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem services;
• By connecting with the entire basin, which allows for local win-win synergies of increased agro-ecosystem output and
landscape output to be amplified with regional coordination and planning; and
• By improving overall water productivity for ecosystems services, thus increasing the resilience of local and regional livelihoods.

Download the policy brief (PDF, 637kb)

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