Reimagining water storage: World Bank’s new report and its insights

6 February 2023

NICHES attended an event organised by the World Bank titled “What the Future Has in Store: A New Paradigm for Water Storage” on the occasion of the Global Report on Water Storage on 6 February 2023. NICHES attended the event in its capacity as a Biodiversa+ and WaterJPI project focusing on urban water systems and innovative ways of increasing their resilience through nature-based solutions (NBS). 

The impetus for organising this event comes from growing concerns about the frequency of natural disasters and extreme weather events, which cause floods, droughts, and heatwaves, and exacerbate water scarcity. This event aims at appealing to practitioners from all levels and across sectors to enhance the knowledge base on water storage solutions so as to meet a range of human, economic, and environmental needs of this century. 

The World Bank’s report titled “What the Future Has in Store: A New Paradigm for Water Storage” offers a useful structure that covers a wide range of topics, including assessing natural and built infrastructure investments over the long term, making decisions when faced with uncertainty, employing integrated planning methods, and reviewing global case studies.

The report examines the significance of water storage, current developments in storage accessibility, and proposes a fresh integrated planning structure to lead water managers through a process that emphasises problem-solving and systems-oriented thinking. This framework assists in understanding the choices available to achieve their water security objectives. This innovative approach emphasises concurrent joint planning. Furthermore, the report highlights the conceptual changes necessary to tackle this growing challenge and presents examples from various countries where Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) of water storage investments has been effectively implemented.

During the opening remarks of the World Bank event, statistics about the current state of water storage were shared and the importance of a water-secure system for a transition to a more resilient and green future was emphasised. The speakers shared their concerns of the systemic water crisis, which has altered the global hydrological cycle and has immense knock-off effects. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister in Singapore, shares that “the nexus between water, climate change, and biodiversity has to be mainstreamed into economic and social governance at national and global levels.”

After sharing the main insights from the report, the event entailed a panel discussion covering topics such as local water storage challenges, current frameworks in place for addressing these challenges, including the value of NBS for water management, the need for a systematic and coordinated data-driven solution mechanism, the importance of financial analyses necessary for driving change, and what the next steps for implementation are. 

To access the recording of the event click here