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FAO launches new guidelines for Incorporating Environmental flows into “water stress” indicator 6.4.2

New publication intended to assist countries in the assessment of water stress


At a dedicated event at FAO Headquarters today, the FAO Land and Water Division launched new Guidelines for a minimum methodological standard for global reporting on how to incorporate environmental flows into SDG “water stress” indicator 6.4.2. The guidelines intend to assist countries in the assessment on water stress by contributing data on environmental flows (EF) which are necessary for the calculation of SDG 6.4.2, indicator on water stress. Assessing environmental flows improves water management by ensuring a sustainable water supply that meets the needs of people, agriculture, energy, industry and the environment within the limits of availability.

FAO is the custodian agency for the two indicators for SDG 6, Target 4, defined as “by 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.” Indicator 6.4.2 of this target is “level of water stress: freshwater withdrawal as a proportion of available freshwater resources”. This indicator builds on the MDG water stress indicator and adds the concept of environmental flows in its formulation, providing the member states the opportunity to explicitly and directly incorporate the needs of the environment in the indicator.

The guidelines provide a minimum standard which supports countries to generate data for the global 6.4.2 report, as well as to provide input to the country records for the Voluntary National report on SDG 6.4.2, that will be based on more detailed information, with water stress and EF data disaggregated to basin or sub-basin scale.

The method proposed by these guidelines is principally based on the Global Environmental Flows Information System, available at http://eflows.iwmi.org, which provides quick estimates of EF as a percentage of long-term mean annual unregulated river flow or as volumetric units (Mm3/year) for any part of the world with a spatial resolution of 0.1 degree.

Download the guidelines >>

View the complete webcast of the launch event >>

View the photo gallery of the launch >>