Basin Action Agenda

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Help shape the Basin Action Agenda

The IWA Basin Action Agenda. Connecting Cities and utilities (and industries) with their basins. Do you represent a city, industry or water and sanitation services? Do you represent a basin organisation, the agricultural or mining sector? The IWA invites you to participate in one of a series of workshops in Skukoza (South Africa), Buenos Aires (Argentina) and Cape Town (South Africa) to explore how your sector and organisation can be a water steward for healthy and sustainable basins. Find out more on the workshop series and upcoming webinar below.

Interested in contributing to the Basin Action Agenda today? Contact Katharine Cross, Programme Manager, Basins of the Future.

What is the Basin Action Agenda?

IWA is developing a Basin Action Agenda which aims to influence and activate utilities, cities and their industries to become water stewards working with basin and catchment organisations, as well as other water management stakeholders (e.g. agriculture and mining). 


The natural water cycle connects cities to their wider basins, making cities dependent on the health of their water basins. Image courtesy of Conservation Ontario.


The Basin Action Agenda is a call to action to support the Principles for Water Wise Cities which aim to integrate water in planning across scales; help city leaders ensure that everyone in their cities has access to safe water and sanitation.  There are 4 levels of action in the Principles:

         1. Regenerative Water Services

         2. Water Sensitive Urban Design

         3. Basin Connected Cities

         4. Water-wise Communities


The Agenda provides guidance pathways to enable Basin Connected Cities including securing the water resource, protecting water quality and preparing for extreme events. The Agenda outlines the rationale for urban stakeholders to lead the way in realizing their role as water stewards and the different pathways and activities towards achieving more integrated water resources management from catchment to consumer. Many of these actions are already happening and the Agenda provides a framework for showcasing best practices to inspire urban end users to be aware and respond to what is happening in their watershed.

Why should urban stakeholders take action in their watershed?

Urban stakeholders have a critical role to play in preserving the freshwater resources on which they depend. A disruption in supply of freshwater resources to cities can have significant economic, environmental and health consequences. Global projections show that urban populations will continue to rise, which means improving water security and protecting water resources across basins which cities rely on is a priority. The world’s freshwater resources are under mounting pressure.

There are numerous sources of pressure  mounting on the world’s freshwater resources:

  • Growing cities, often in areas with water scarcity
  • Increased water abstraction and use
  • Irregular patterns of water availability due to the effects of climate change
  • Competing demands for freshwater resources (drinking water, industry, agriculture, etc)

Who should take action?

Urban Stakeholders

  • City Planners
  • Water managers
  • Other city representatives
  • Industries
  • Water and wastewater utilities
  • Regulators

Basin Stakeholders

  • Basin Organisations
  • Mining Sector
  • Agricultural Sector

Pathways to become an urban agent of change

Develop a vision: This can be developing an overall framework defining long-term ambitions and aspirations;


Strengthen governance and institutions to provide the framework for stakeholders to work together from catchment to tap to achieve the proposed vision;

Assess knowledge and capacity and taking actions to increase knowledge exchange and learning;


Integrate planning tools such as decision support systems and use risk based approaches to water management and increase data and information available on the catchment;

Take action with various implementation tools: Economic instruments and financing mechanisms; regulations; innovative technologies; integration of nature-based solutions.


Share your perspectives & experiences

We are looking to urban stakeholders that are leading the way in strengthening the connection with their catchments through different actions and pathways to contribute to the development and promotion of the Basin Action Agenda:

  • Contribute a Basin Story which outlines the successes and challenges that urban stakeholders have experienced in becoming water stewards in the wider catchment;
  • Join in an online webinar will provide a shared platform to learn more and contribute to the Basin Action Agenda; and
  • Participate in one of the workshops highlighting how urban and basin stakeholders are working together on water resource management from catchment to consumer.

Upcoming events

Join us at the workshop series, entitled Against the flow:  An Action Agenda to engage urban stakeholders in water resource managementThe workshops are part of a series taking place at IWA events in developing the Action Agenda. Feedback received from your participation in the workshop series will be integrated into the launch of the Basin Action Agenda at the 2018 IWA World Water Congress in Tokyo. The workshops will focus on sharing experiences and identifying approaches to develop guidance for urban stakeholders to better manage water quantity and quality through actions at the catchment level.

Basin Action Agenda events– Times and Dates:

  1. 14th International Water Association Specialist Conference on Watershed and River Basin Management | Skukoza, South Africa |Wednesday, October 11th  13:00 – 14:30
  2. International Water Association Water and Development Conference & Exhibition 2017 | Buenos Aires, Argentina | Thursday, November 16th 15:30 – 17:00, Room 3
  3. 8th International Young Water Professionals Conference | Cape Town, South Africa | Monday, December 11th,  13:30 – 14:45
  4. Basin Action Agenda Webinar | December 7th, 2017

We are also working on a webinar dedicated to showcasing the urban and basin stakeholders featured in a series of Basin Stories currently under development. The webinar will dive into the stories of how the different pathways towards strengthening the connection between cities and basins have been implemented in practice. More information to come.

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