A commentary on ecohydrology as a science-policy interface in implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Peter Bridgewater

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Ecohydrology, as an integrating discipline, can contribute strongly to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially in the context of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). Using ecohydrology principles in applying IWRM affords a better understanding of the links between water, biodiversity, and human wellbeing in the catchments. One problem with the SDGs is that they are presented in a “silo” style, which means there are few if any connections between SDG6 “clean water and sanitation” and SDG 15 “life on land”, which deals with wetlands and catchments. Ecohydrology principles, drawing on the need to better understand green and blue infrastructure, can help bridge between the SDGs in an IWRM context, allowing thus for their more successful achievement. The Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, 1971) has degrees of overlap and redundancy with the UNECE Water Convention (1992). And both rely on better science, policy, and management of catchments for effective implementation. Ecohydrology can help promote and develop the science base of these Multilateral Environment Agreements allowing for interpretation of catchment processes and dynamics, and thus better application of IWRM, and ultimately better policies for management of water resources, and thus alleviation of water scarcity. Ecohydrology can also play a role in fostering social science research in catchments, heritage management and conservation. So far in UNESCO, ecohydrology has been largely dealt with by the International Hydrological Programme, in the Division of Water Sciences. There is a future role for ecohydrology as a cross-cutting theme across all UNESCO Sectors, led by the Natural Sciences Sector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-392
Number of pages6
JournalEcohydrology and Hydrobiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes


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