Source:Smart Sustainable Cities, Montevideo, Uruguay, 11-14 March 2014, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (2014)
Today, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become pivotal in everyday life. Though there are many initiatives designed to enhance water sustainability, efficiency and accessibility via ICTs to address the water crisis, there is still a need for standardization and proper ICT governance. Provision of thisensures that there is proper management of these technologies, avoiding the possible increase in consumption or environmental damage from electronic waste. Smart water management (SWM) therefore is a key policy issue on the global stage.
As part of their mandate to secure a sustainable future, both ITU and UNESCO, have set out to raise awareness on ICTs and SWM. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nation’s specialized agency for ICTs, develops internationally recognized standards which act as defining elements in the global infrastructure of ICTs. ITU, the very heart of the ICT sector, recognizes the positive influence that ICTs can play in the distribution, management, and allocation of our water resources. Consequently, ITU’s Focus Group on Smart Water Management (FG-SWM) provides a peer forum to tackle the gaps in “ICTs and SWM” so that countries can overcome the global water challenges collectively.
The United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), on the other hand has been a leader in building the scientific knowledge base to help countries manage their water resources sustainably. Through the International Hydrological Programme, the UN-wide World Water Development Report, the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, as well as affiliations with countless research centres and water-related Chairs on water around the world, UNESCO is strengthening global water security.
Though economic growth, climate change and rising populations highly influence the availability of global water resources, strategic incorporation of ICTs in SWM can mitigate some of these challenges. Such achievements, however, are unattainable without proper stakeholder involvement and buy-in. The principal intention of this report is to go further and emphasize how ICTs can overcome some of the challenges faced in the water sector when there is proper stakeholder involvement. The first section of this report seeks to showcase the significant roles stakeholders can play in the area of ICTs and SWM, while the second section highlights a few SWM initiatives and their accomplishments on a national, regional and international scale. Case studies selected were chosen to highlight how ICTs can be incorporated to address some issues related to the current global water crisis such as water security, water accessibility, climate change, aging infrastructure and management. The intention is to provide an overview of ICTs as a strategic instrument in SWM. It is also envisioned to act as a catalyst for further discussion and future successful implementation of SWM initiatives worldwide