Spotlight on the role of groundwater in the Sustainable Development Goals


From 18 to 20 May, Sorbonne University in Paris will host an international conference on the role of groundwater in the (Sustainable Development Goals) SDGs. Groundwater resources have a key role to play in the SDGs. Either directly in terms of food, hygiene and health, protection and restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity, or indirectly, for the reduction of poverty and inequalities, contribution to education and gender equality, peace. The conference organized by IAH, UNESCO-IHP and the French Water Partnership will put a spotlight on this key role of groundwater, and IGRAC will contribute to several sessions.

Friends of Groundwater

19/05 | 09:00 – 12:30 | Poster session 2

WWQA logo

EAWAG Senior Scientist Joel Podgorski will represent the Friends of Groundwater (FoG), of which IGRAC is a member, with a poster presentation entitled ‘Assessing global groundwater quality to complement SDG indicator 6.3.2’. The FoG group working under the World Water Quality Alliance (WWQA) led by UN Environment is developing a set of guidelines to assess groundwater quality on national to regional scales based on the upscaling/aggregation of local findings. Although the guidelines are envisioned as a tool for producing a global assessment on groundwater quality, they can also be useful to countries in obtaining a more representative view of the quality of their groundwater bodies, which aligns with the objective of SDG indicator 6.3.2. This poster presents FoG’s first steps towards this goal.

Groundwater monitoring and SDGs

19/05 | 10:05 | Session 05A/B - Specific tools and approaches for monitoring groundwater and SDG targets 

During session 05A/B on specific tools and approaches for monitoring groundwater and SDG targets, IGRAC Researcher Arnaud Sterckx will give a presentation on contribution of groundwater monitoring to SDG monitoring. In this presentation, he will show that the quantitative status of groundwater resources is not adequately dealt with in the current SDG indicators. Suggestions will be made to bridge this gap using direct observations of aquifers, like groundwater level monitoring data.

Groundwater in arid areas

19/05 | 11:30 | Session 04E – Round table - Low Recharge / "Fossil" Aquifers

IGRAC Director Elisabeth Lictevout will give a presentation during the round table on low recharge, fossil aquifers. Reaching SDG 6 in arid areas is challenging because surface water is almost inexistant and all uses depend on groundwater. Moreover, groundwater resources in arid areas are mainly fossil, meaning nonrenewable which pose an additional challenge. In Northern Chile, increasing groundwater abstraction let to conflicts between small users and big users. Although small users and ecosystems are strongly affected by increasing abstractions, the groundwater resources are not threatened in the short and medium term. This contradiction is typical in those contexts and can be overcome by a better understanding and planning of groundwater use.

Transboundary aquifer cooperation map

19/05 | 14:30 | Session 04C - Contribution of transboundary aquifers to the Sustainable Development Goals

Transboundary cooperation map
Transboundary cooperation map

During the session about the contribution of transboundary aquifers to the SDGs, Christina Fraser will present the cooperation map, a research activity being conducted at IGRAC to identify the level of cooperation over transboundary aquifers globally as reported under SGD 6.5.2. The aim of the research is to showcase the value of calculating the level of transboundary cooperation per aquifer as opposed to per country. 

Global case studies

19/05 – 20/05 | 14:40-15:55/16:30-17:40 – 11:15-12:30 | Sharing of global case studies: best practices, successes/failures (management agencies, communities, NGOs, etc.)

IGRAC Director Elisabeth Lictevout will co-chair three sessions dedicated to case studies, two on 19 May (14:40-15:55 | 16:30-17:45) and another on 20 May (11:15-12:30). The set-up of all three sessions will be the same, but the case studies are different.