- Tuesday | 07 Jan, 2014
- Shakeel Ahmed Ramay
- Research Reports,Project Publications
Decision makers in India and Pakistan will have to overcome a host of overlapping socio-economic, environmental, and political pressures as they endeavor to ensure their countries’ future water needs and sustainably manage the resources of the Indus River Basin that both nations share. Continuing population growth will significantly reduce per capita water availability over the coming decades. Increasing industrialization and urbanization are driving important shifts in water use. Climate change will exert additional, chronic strains on water resources, potentially shifting the seasonal timing or shuffling the
geographical distribution of available supplies. Increasingly subject to soaring demand, unsustainable consumption patterns, and mounting environmental stresses, the Indus is swiftly becoming a “closed” basin;
almost all of the river’s available renewable water is already allocated for various uses — with little to no spare capacity.
Scientists, policy makers, and the broader public in both Pakistan and India will need to better apprehend, assess, and act on the links between water resources management, global and regional environmental change, sustainable development, and social welfare in the Indus Basin in order to meet these emerging challenges. Existing analyses and projections, however, are often fraught with important uncertainties and unknowns. The dearth of consistent information at the relevant regional, national, and sub-national scales has in turn impeded efforts to conduct integrated evaluations that would better connect “upstream” assessment of environmental and socio-economic impacts on water resources with “downstream” implications for agricultural production and livelihoods, drinking water supplies and sanitation infrastructure, and hydropower development and industry. Coordination and exchange across national and disciplinary boundaries will be essential to overcoming this science/policy gap and to providing decision makers with holistic perspectives on the multiple risks weighing on the Indus Basin and the consequent policy choices and possibilities facing the riparian nations.