Official Green Roads for Water Guidelines Launched Ahead of COP-26
October 28, 2021
by Reinier Veldman | 0 Comment
New Guidelines and COP26
The images of floods, water shortages and forest fires are fresh in our minds. Climate change is a reality that we can no longer ignore or wish away. There is an urgent need for game changers, that create climate resilience and mitigation at massive scale. The eyes here are very much on the infrastructure sector. The infrastructure sector is the main contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (30-40%), but at the same time because of its very size (annual investments in roads already being USD 1-2 Bn), the sector is also an important part of the solution in the shape of green infrastructure.
The coming COP-26 in Glasgow (31 October – 12 November) will focus on updating climate commitments and initiating much more climate action. It is here that Green Roads for Water come in: roads designed or modified not only to serve transport needs but to also contribute to better water management, regreening and to climate resilience. Conventional roads amplify climate damage: roads typically cause 15 to 40% of all landscape degradation and cause USD 260 M of flood damage in Europe alone. Green roads for water instead improve the capacity to manage and harness water and they suffer far less from water-related damage.
About the new Guidelines
We are very proud to announce that the “Green Roads for Water: Guidelines for Road Infrastructure in Support of Water Management and Climate Resilience” have been officially issued by the World Bank as a flagship publication! These guidelines discuss the use of roads for beneficial water management and climate resilience. You can access and download for free the full version of the new guidelines through this link.
The Green Roads for Water guidelines advocate for a change in the paradigm in the way roads projects are planned and implemented. The guidelines advocate for a more integrated design process with local communities and social, environmental, water, and agriculture sectors to turn around the negative impacts of roads on the surrounding landscape, and simultaneously maximize the beneficial use of roads for water management and climate resilience that can work to the advantage of local communities along the roads.
The Green Roads for Water guidelines are drawn from field experience and work in professional communities in road development, water management, climate resilience, disaster risk reduction, and environmental, social, and agricultural development. They combine experiences from Bangladesh, Bolivia, China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nepal, Portugal, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda, the Republic of Yemen, and Zambia. All these countries have taken initial steps to promote beneficial road-water management.
The audience for these guidelines is diverse. They target experts in multiple disciplines who work in the planning and implementation of road projects or who assess the impact of and mitigation measures for road projects, such as civil engineers, planners, and environmental and social specialists. This document is also intended for other communities of practice, such as those who work in flood prevention, landscape restoration, agricultural development, climate resilience, disaster risk reduction, and the environment in general. Another key audience comprises community representatives and nongovernmental organizations in rural areas.
These guidelines are organised into four sections:
The first section begins with an introductory overview of the general approach of roads for water in chapter 1.
The second section describes the uses and geographies for roads for water. It starts with a discussion of the key concepts in watershed management (chapter 2), and a discussion of how roads can be used to develop safe domestic water resources in rural areas (chapter 3). Chapters 4 through 6 provide details on various geographies: water-short semiarid areas (chapter 4), low-lying flood-prone areas (chapter 5), and middle- and high-altitude zones (chapter 6). Each area has its own opportunities, sets of appropriate measures, and dos and don’ts.
The third section (chapters 7 through 13) concentrates on some of the most important techniques and provides practical details on how to implement them. The following interventions are discussed: the conversion of borrow pits for use as water storage, the use of road drifts, the development of local water storage, harvesting water from road drainage, and promoting ground-water recharge with unpaved roads and roadside tree planting.
The fourth section (chapters 14 through 16) discusses how to make Green Roads for Water and Climate Resilience work. Chapter 14 describes the governance arrangements that are conducive to integrating road development, climate resilience, and water management. Chapter 15 describes how to engage roadside communities in the development of effective roads for water programs that support community needs and promote livelihood opportunities. Finally, chapter 16 recaps the guidelines with a summary of some of the costs and benefits of roads for water, describes the roads for water program in Ethiopia and provides a preview of other roads for water programs.