Panel: Global Sustainability Indicators, Earth Observations and Data

The Water SDG has been developed to provide a comprehensive approach to addressing the post-2015 development objectives that include social equity, health and well-being and sustainability for all peoples and nations of the world. The comprehensive water goal includes targets related to sanitation, wastewater, water quality, water efficiency, integrated water management and ecosystems. 

As part of the implementation of these targets, metrics must be set for each target, and indicators must be developed to assess progress toward meeting the target. In order to ensure that governments take responsibility for implementing the goals the computation of these indicators will be carried out at the national or sub-national scale. Oversight of this process through the use of global data sets is desirable for establishing standard information bases and for carrying out independent assessments. However, there are large disparities in the ability to monitor because data networks are very sparse in many countries. 

Solutions for overcoming these data gaps do exist through the use of geospatially consistent data available from space-based remote sensing. The use of these data will require capabilities to downscale information, to effectively interpolate and assimilate data both in time and space, and the ability to integrate different data types with socio-economic data sets and model outputs in a geographical information system framework to compute meaningful indices and indicators. In addition, citizen data and other non-standard data types hold the promise of supplementing the systematic in-situ data systems operated by national governments. Given the right analysis framework, they could contribute to monitoring progress toward the Water SDG target. This session will assess the needs for information, options for meeting these needs using existing data services, expansion of the role of Earth observations in monitoring, and criteria for the conduct of pilot projects to develop, test and validate indicators. 


  • Graham Alabaster
    Programme Manager United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT); Senior Technical Officer Water, Sanitation and Health. World Health Organization (WHO)


  • Richard Lawford
    Morgan State University, Baltimore, United States
  • Philipp Saile
    IHP/HWRP-Sekretariat; Bundesanstalt für Gewässerkunde
  • Hong Yang
    Swiss Federal Institute for Aquatic Science & Technology Duebendorf
  • Sushel Unninayar
    Senior Scientist at NASA
  • Carsten Brockmann
    Managing Director of Brockmann Consult
  • Jörn Hoffmann
    Senior Scientific Officer at German Space Administration (DLR)

Panel: Governance of Risks towards the Implementation of Water SDGs

Effective and adaptive multi-level governance will be an essential precondition for an effective implementation of the Water SDGs. However, neither at the global nor at national levels governance systems are in place that would be up to dealing with the expected challenges. The SDG implementation process needs thus capacity building and innovation in water governance and management.

The SDGs are formulated as individual goals but essentially they are not independent and their implementation requires coordination. Security for water, energy and food can only be achieved by adopting an integrated nexus perspective. Many water security problems qualify as systemic risks which defy simple solutions 

The session will address requirements for and steps towards innovative and integrated risk governance and management for SDG implementation. Important topics include:

  • Taking stock – what can one learn from the implementation process of the MDGs; 
  • Identification and assessment of systemic and emerging risks; 
  • Requirements for integrated and adaptive risk governance to deal with interconnectedness - enhancing security of the water-energy-food nexus during SDG implementation
  • Multi-level approaches – how to govern risks at which level 
  • Integration of different kinds of knowledge – from remote sensing to local knowledge; 
  • Power, fairness and social justice – the political dimension of risk governance 


  • Claudia Pahl-Wostl
    Professor for Resources Management, University of Osnabruck


  • Josefina Maestu
    Director at United Nations Office to Support the International Decade for Action ‘Water for Life’ 2005-2015
  • Franz Marré
    Head of Department for
    Water; Urban development; Transport, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
  • Joyeeta Gupta
    Professor of Environment and Development in the Global South, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam; UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education in Delft
  • Roland Schulze
    Professor Emeritus of Hydrology, Centre for Water Resources Research, School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences; University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Dialogue Session: Practice-Science-Policy Dialogue

In particular, the panel will focus on how the science policy link can be strengthened through co-design of research and solutions, though sharing available information, knowledge and action gaps, as well as viable instruments and approaches and the facilitation of networks to ultimately contribute to the implementation of Water SDGs.


  • András Szöllösi-Nagy
    Chief Advisor, World Water Council


  • Bernd Kordes
    President & CEO Lahmeyer Holding and Lahmeyer International
  • Jakob Rhyner
    UNU Vice-Rector in Europe and Director of the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security
  • Csaba Korösi
    Director for Environmental Sustainability at the Office of the Hungarian President; Former Ambassador of Hungary to the United Nations, Co-Chair of the UN Open Working Group on SDGs
  • Bettina Schmalzbauer
    Head of the German Committee of Future Earth Secretariat
  • Manfred van Afferden
    Senior Researcher at Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)

Roundtable: Water Quality Assessment

The session deals with monitoring and assessment of water quality which are essential for understanding the intensity and scope of the global water quality challenge. Yet the coverage of data in many parts of the world is inadequate for this purpose. Therefore, it is urgent to expand the collection, distribution, and analysis of water quality data through the international GEMS/Water Programme. Future efforts of data collection have to be systematically linked with appropriate assessment methodologies including the data driven monitoring of indicators (such as SDGs) and model based projections of developments under future scenarios of global change. 


  • Dietrich Borchardt
    Professor at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research
  • Stuart Bunn
    Director of Griffith University’s Australian Rivers Institute


  • Joseph Alcamo
    Executive Director, Center for Environmental Systems Research (CESR), University of Kassel
  • Stephen Foster
    Senior Adviser at Global Water Partnership
  • Nike Sommerwerk
    Program Officer, UNU-EHS
  • Hartwig Hubertus Kremer
    Senior Programme Manager, Division of Early Warning and Assessment (UNEP)
  • Johannes Cullmann
    Director of German National Commission’s Secretariat for UNESCO IHP
    IHP/HWRP – Secretariat Federal Institute of Hydrology (BfG)
  • Yuan Zhang
    Professor and Director of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences (CRAES)

Dialogue Session: Innovative Solutions - Science-Industry Dialogue

Sustainable development requires a strong engagement of science and industry in developing and providing innovations in water engineering technology that jointly address human as well as environmental water security. The Industry-Science dialogue session will address constraints which hamper existing technologies and technology-based solutions to be put into action. Furthermore it will serve as a bridge to increase the traditionally lumbering flow of evidence-based knowledge from the water sciences to policy formulation to practical applications.

The session will focus on wastewater solutions in particular and will examine the current level of water- and wastewater knowledge. Gaps in science-industry cooperation will be assessed and pathways for future knowledge exchange and knowledge generation activities will be carved in order to ensure implementation of feasible sustainable technologies and solutions.



  • Karl-Ulrich Rudolph
    Professor at the Institute of Environmental Engineering & Management at the Witten/Herdecke University gGmbH, Germany


  • Roland Mueller
    Professor and Head of the Department Environmental Biotechnology Center at Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
  • Uwe Werner
    Technical Director of WILO SE
  • Markus Engelhart
    Head of R&D at EnviroChemie GmbH
  • Andreas Abecker
    Head of Research and Innovation Management at disy Informations
    systeme GmbH

Panel: Financing of Water SDGs

The advancement of a post-2015 development agenda and the formulation of global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) underscore the need for new approaches to leverage economic development alongside securing human wellbeing and ecosystem services. This new restorative development paradigm has opened up a truly universal dimension of development that applies equally to both developed and developing countries. Implementation of the proposed new SDGs will require a departure from traditional models of international development based on aid, financing and mobilization of national resources.

This session aims to assess various new approaches to financing the implementation of SDGs at the national level. It poses some serious questions about what new roles need to be taken up by whom, and how innovative financing mechanisms can achieve implementation objectives in a timely and measurable way. A starting point for such discussion could be at the national level, by exploring new methods of generating development capital through: re-allocating funds; enhancing economies of scope and scale; and, involving non-traditional partners in creative new ways. The role of private sector in achieving SDGs also requires some fresh thinking with respect to the creation of enabling conditions aimed at eliciting incrementally greater investments, while still assuring protection of the public interest and environmental and social commons. The role of individual citizens in guiding their personal investments and philanthropy also needs to be re-evaluated, particularly within the context of the growing participation in crowd-funded development projects. Finally, the role of the international development community (bilateral donors and international financial institutions) is also evolving and may change drastically under a new SDG regime. The global conference on Financing for Development is taking place in Addis Ababa (July 2015) and will set the tone for financing models; the discussion in this session describes how that may impact approaches for financing the water-related SDGs. 


  • Zafar Adeel
    Director of UNU-INWEH


  • Anik Bhaduri
    Executive Officer at GWSP
  • Gary White
    Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of, Kansas City, USA
  • Bob Sandford
    EPCOR Water Security Chair at UNU
  • Jack Moss
    Executive Director, AquaFed – The International Federation of Private Water Operators.

Roundtable: Notion of Risk in Sustainable Water Assessment

Indicators of sustainable resource use are heavily employed in the environmental, development and sustainability communities to benchmark and track trends of system health and resiliency. Such quantitative measures are important messaging devices between scientists, policy-makers and other stakeholders. Indicators measuring sustainable water use for humans and natural systems considering both quantitative and qualitative aspects but have not embedded risk-related metrics. We explore in this panel the development of meaningful indicators of risk related to water resources and resiliency. The panel will define conceptual and technical issues including notions of hazard, vulnerability, and risk. Case studies will be presented in terms of risks arising from, for example, extreme precipitation. In addition, the panel will explore the capacity of current notions of risk to be embedded within the SDG process. 


  • Charles Vörösmarty
    Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, City University of New York; Director, CUNY Environmental CrossRoads Initiative; Distinguished Scientist, NOAA-CREST


  • Lars Ribbe
    Professor at Institute for Technology and Resources Management in the tropics and subtropics, Cologne Institute of Applied Sciences
  • Graham Alabaster
    Programme Manager United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT); Senior Technical Officer Water, Sanitation and Health. World Health Organization (WHO); Coordinator of UN Water GEMI initiative
  • Engin Koncagul
    Programme Officer at United Nations World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)
  • Martina Flörke
    Center for Environmental Systems Research, University of Kassel
  • Eugene Stakhiv
    Corps’ Institute for Water Resources and Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at Johns Hopkins University
  • David Wiberg
    Acting Program Director of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

Panel: Governing the Nexus of Water, Soil and Waste

The session presents the NEXUS OBSERVATORY to outline a mechanism that helps to collect data, consolidate knowledge and support its translation into policy relevant advice to decision makers including donors, member states and community organizations responsible for management of environmental resources: water, soil and waste. Using case studies covering water and wastewater the session will elaborate upon the role of public financing, remote sensing, groundwater management and data analytics in supporting evidence based decision making. 


  • Reza Ardakanian
    Director of United Nations University Institute for the Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU FLORES)


  • Linda Veiga
    Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Minho, Portugal
  • Rifat Hossain
    World Health Organization (WHO), GENEVA
  • Mathew Kurian
    Academic Officer at United Nations University Institute for the Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES)
  • Stephen Foster
    Senior Advisor at Global Water Partnership

Panel: Implementing Integrated Water Resource Management

In contrast to Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7 which focused on improved water supply and sanitation, the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) also aims at the sustainable management of water resources, including the target (6.5) to “implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate” by 2030. IWRM aims at the coordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources to maximize equitable economic and social welfare, without damaging vital ecosystems. This, however, means that the IWRM target itself contains a complex goal system which will not be straight forward to monitor and review. Against this background, building on prior experiences in the context of the 2012 UN Water Status Report on IWRM, the Global Expanded Monitoring Initiative (GEMI) co-led by WHO, UNEP and UN-Habitat proposes the development of an IWRM Implementation Index, taking the following indicators into account: (1) the extent to which an enabling environment for IWRM (policy, strategic planning and legal framework) has been put in place, (2) the structure and performance of an institutional framework to support IWRM processes, and (3) the degree to which management instruments are applied within these frameworks. Data are proposed to be collected in surveys as auto-evaluation tools from government agencies at the national level and river basin authorities. This implies that under the IWRM target (6.5) mainly the governance dimension of WRM is supposed to be considered, while more technical aspects of IWRM are covered by targets 6.3, 6.4 and 6.6 respectively. The session will critically discuss the GEMI proposal for target 6.5. Questions include: what were experiences made with similar surveys in the past? What lessons can be learned from research on the transformation of water governance and the implementation of IWRM and what does this imply for the review process?

As such the session will highlight critical aspects to be considered in a future implementation and monitoring and review process related to the IWRM target of the SDGs. 


  • Ines Dombrowsky
    Head of Department: Environmental Policy and Natural Resources Management, German Development Institute (DIE)


  • Claudia Pahl-Wostl
    Prof. for Resources Management, University of Osnabruck
  • Peter Koefoed Bjornsen
    Director, UNEP-DHI Partnership
  • Annabelle Houdret
    German Development Institute (DIE), Bonn, Germany
  • Thomas Kluge
    Institute for
    Social-Ecological Research (ISOE)

Panel: Capacity Development and Monitoring of SDGs

The objective of the session will be to initiate a discussion on the process required to develop in-country capacity to monitor the SDGs, building on available capacities and systems. During this session we will discuss requirements to monitor the water SDG. Country officials and representatives of UN and other international organizations (e.g. scientists), expected to play a role in the country level monitoring of the SDGs, will be invited to contribute to this discussion.

The session will start with an introductory presentation on selected indicators and methodologies to monitor these by a member of the UN Water working group on indicators. The panel discussion will include (1) reflections by country representatives on current practices in their country in terms of monitoring and future requirements for data gathering, setting up monitoring systems and capacity building to be able to monitor the proposed SDG indicators; (2) experiences of the water supply and sanitation MDG Joint Monitoring Program; and (3) other relevant experiences in capacity building for monitoring global indicators (e.g. CBD). Subsequently feedback will be requested from the audience to enrich the discussion with experiences from other countries, other global or country level monitoring mechanisms and new methodologies and data collection methods. 


  • Chris Dickens
    Head of office and Principal researcher for the International Water Management Institute – Southern Africa


  • Boubacar Barry
    Coordinator of the West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) and Director of the WASCAL Competence Centre 
  • Jan Leentvaar
    Professor of Water and Environmental Policy Making at UNESCO-IHE
  • Hartwig Hubertus Kremer
    Senior programme Manager, Division of Early Warning and Assessment (UNEP)
  • Francisco Meza
    Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Santiago