Issues paper for discussion in developing a DFID research programme on water ecosystem services and poverty reduction under climate change

Reports/papers (non-specific)
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Published: March 2007
Product code:G00398

IIED is steering a team, working to the end of June 2007, to scope a possible DFID research programme on freshwater ecosystem services and poverty reduction in the context of climate change and other drivers of change. The work will identify key research areas and delivery mechanisms. It will do this by: seeking views from stakeholders internationally; drawing key lessons from the literature; carrying out policy and practice analyses in key developing countries; and capturing the results in a report to DFID. This Issues Paper seeks to present some initial thinking on key areas that need to be considered, and it highlights some initial questions. The challenge addressed by this work is a daunting one. Freshwater ecosystem services ­ the benefits obtained by people from freshwater ecosystems like rivers, swamps, floodplains and groundwater systems - are central to human well-being. But ecosystems are in trouble and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment showed that freshwater ecosystem services are particularly in trouble. Ecosystem degradation increases water problems and these problems hit the poor hardest. The multiple and often conflicting uses of water pose huge difficulties for any system of management. Global climate change looks certain to exacerbate water problems. The impacts will vary greatly by region – and Africa will be hard hit. Yet despite the gloomy prognosis, many promising solutions to the problems exist. The key to unlock these solutions in many contexts appears to be governance – the range of issues associated with how decisions are made about water ecosystem services.