Author: Amy Uyen Truong
In June, Texas A&M faculty and students participated in the XVI World Water Congress organized by the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) and held in Cancun, Mexico. Gabriel Eckstein, Texas A&M Law Professor, acted as the chair for the conference focused on bridging science and policy. With over 1,000 attendees from 95+countries and delegates from multiple organizations, Cancun served as a fitting platform for the international discussion on water development.
Caption 1. Water delegates from Mexico such as ANEAS and Conagua and IWRA associates address the importance of bridging science and policy for sustainable water development at the opening ceremony in Cancun, Mexico.
The water community answered the call to bridge water science and effective policy with sessions that covered a diverse set of topics such as Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), the Sustainable Development Goals, water security, water policy, and governance, among many other topics. Across these sessions, scholars echoed the need to create an environment which encouraged information sharing, and collaboration with the political class and civil society.
These conversations led to emerging themes such as the Water-Energy-Food Nexus where Dr. Rabi Mohtar, a professor at Texas A&M University, emphasized the significance of the nexus as an inviting and non-exclusive concept for the water community. Other major themes included the challenges of effective transboundary water sharing through the lens of science, law, and governance. Dr. Rosario Sanchez, a research scientist at the Texas Water Resources Institute, presented on the hydrogeologic extent of US-Mexico transboundary aquifers, while Professor Gabriel Eckstein presented on the legal challenges of negotiating transboundary waters. Their participation along with other scholars in this special session motioned the bridging of science and law in transboundary water sharing. The conference created an environment that could encourage participants to think broadly and locally when dealing with complex water issues and inspired new approaches to meet international water security goals.
Caption 2. Dr. Rosario Sanchez and Professor Gabriel Eckstein participated in the all-day special session on transboundary waters in North America.
It was clear that business-as-usual would not suffice and that policy-makers and scientists were now tasked with developing a new framework for a sustainable future. Throughout the congress, attendees were encouraged to participate in the draft of the Cancun Declaration– a statement and path forward for the congress. The declaration, which can be found on the congress website, is a call to action to bridge science and policy and signifies the commitment of the international water community towards a sustainable future in water development.
Caption 3. Cancun Declaration image sourced from the IWRA twitter profile.
Amidst all these conversations, multiple students from the Texas A&M Water Management and Hydrological Sciences program and Texas A&M Law School served as rapporteurs for the congress. The diverse group also included representatives from IWRA, World Youth Parliament for Water, Youth Action for Sustainable Water, Water Youth Network, from regions such as Germany, Turkey, Canada, and France. They were tasked with attending and summarizing sessions for the daily newsletters and the forthcoming Congress Report Proceedings, which can be found on the world water congress website.
Caption 4. Rapporteurs and IWRA associates at the end of the conference.
With a total of 44 faculty and student participants, Texas A&M University made a strong impression at the congress and in the international water community. The next congress will be held in Daegu, Korea with an open invitation to the TAMU system. For those interested in joining the dialogue for a sustainable future, consider participating in the next Congress in 2018.
Caption 5. Faculty and Students represent TAMU at the XVI World Water Congress.