The conference organisers have been very professional - they have an excellent website and already most (but not all) of the presentations have been posted (though at least one is attributed to the wrong presenter). Among these is a presentation Catherine Allan (Charles Sturt University) and I co-developed: Exploration of metaphors to transform water governance praxis. A copy of the abstract of the talk is given at the end of this post. I also participated vicariously in a session concerned with transboundary water governance.
One of the outcomes of the conference was the Bonn Declaration on Global Water Security. It can be signed here. Also produced was 'a film charting the global impact of humanity on the global water cycle' [because] 'evidence is growing that our global footprint is now so significant that we have driven Earth into a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene. Human activities such as damming and agriculture are changing the global water cycle in significant ways.'
Despite these achievements many of my collegues were disappointed with what was discussed. Most felt that, in the 'mainstream' sessions at least, little new and needed was adequately addressed. This is clearly the perspective held by Brian Richter in his artcle: 'My fellow scientists: no more chicken little'. He says:
"When I heard that the Bonn conference participants had issued a new “Declaration on Global Water Security” I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.
Not to take anything away from the wonderful work that these scientists have been doing to document the changes the Earth has experienced under the heavy hand of humankind. But they have not yet learned how to translate their science knowledge and findings into tangible, implementable solutions.
The Declaration proclaims that we need six things: (1) More science. (2) More science. (3) Train more scientists. (4) Expand monitoring (i.e., more science). (5) Consider ecosystem-based alternatives to costly structural solutions for climate proofing. (6) Change water institutions."
Other comments I received included:
"I had high hopes in the opening session of this conference; all sorts of ideas about changing approaches needed for the big changes happening....but by the time I gave my paper on day two I was feeling a bit frustrated. I have a list of Words I heard a lot at the conference and these include trade off, models, trade offs, models....and lots and lots of global maps with colours on them. There was plenty of identification of the need to talk with stakeholders, and policy makers, but almost always in terms of "them", and never once in my hearing any consideration that the people in the room were also stakeholders. There has been some talk of language, but almost invariably in the form of how do we get our message across to policy makers in a way they will understand, never about co-creation of messages. And then I was in a session where the need to engage with stakeholders was raised with the comment that we need to do it but we don't know how to engage yet, we don't have the methods, or something like that. I mean, honestly, we don't know how to engage with stakeholders? Anyway, what this meant was by the time I presented yesterday I was calling for revolution...and began the presentation with that call.'