Forest and Water Programme

The XVI World Water Congress: “Bridging Policy and Science” in Forests and Water


Between 29 May and 3 June, approximately 1500 registered participants attended the XVI World Water Congress. The week of events related to the topics: Water Scarcity in a Changing World; Building Capacity, Water, Sanitation and Health; Water Policy and Governance; Water Ecosystems and Physical Regimes; Water Quality Management; Water and Sustainable Growth; and Stakeholder Participation. To shed light on the crucial role forests play in the hydrological cycle, regulating water availability and quality, as well as reducing water-related risks such as landslides, local floods and droughts. A Special Session Understanding the Forest-Water Nexus: monitoring framework and tool was co-convened by the FAO Forest and Water Programme and SIWI.This interactive workshop presented the current setting and latest achievements through a series of four presentations in favor of mainstreaming an integrated approach to forest and water resources management and policy. Equally, the session took the opportunity to introduce the Forest-Water Monitoring Framework and Tool and its progress.

The session was attended by approximately 25 people representing research institutions, the private sector and NGOs. Forest and water experts from FAO, WeForest and the IUFRO Task Force on Forests, Soil and Water Interactions provided an overview of forests and water, including gaps in knowledge; previewed a new UNECE/FAO publication on forest and water valuation for payments for ecosystem services; expressed the need for science-based policies and practice; shared the relevance of the forest-water topic for the 2030 Agenda; as well as, discussed the monitoring tool development process, including lessons learned. The session was well-received with the only criticisms being that the session was too short and would have benefitted from being scheduled earlier in the week. Final breakout discussion groups validated the demand for the monitoring framework, as well as the direction and considerations made thus far. Many participants expressed interest in contributing to the further development of the framework and/or data, while others anticipate the final product for piloting. Participants also look forward to the launch of the UNECE/FAO publication.

Throughout the Congress, participants were encouraged to contribute to the Cancun Declaration which would promote the goals of Agenda 2030, particularly the water target. Our committee suggested targets that would include an integrated approach to forest and water management. On the final day of the congress the declaration was published, in which governments, donors, academics, professionals and civil society had participated in the drafting. This document can be found here:


Photo Credits: 2017 XVI World Water Congress