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Anne Castle writes foreword for new book on the Colorado River

Water Policy Group member Anne Castle – former assistant secretary of the Interior for Water and Science and a Colorado River veteran – has written the foreword for a new book titled Living River – The Promise of the Mighty Colorado. The book explores the endangered Colorado River from source to sea with conservation photographer Dave Showalter, using powerful visual storytelling to illustrate how we can create a resilient watershed if we change our relationship with water.

A section of the foreword is shared below and the book is now available for purchase through Mountaineers Books.

“The Colorado River is a waterway of superlatives—the most volatile supplies, the most iconic landscapes, the most dammed, the most litigated, and, lamentably, the most threatened.  It is also a river of contrasts, encompassing thriving cities juxtaposed with large swaths of rural areas where many households lack clean drinking water, whitewater rapids providing challenge and recreation upstream of a dried-up estuary, and lush and lucrative farmland whose very viability is threatened by diminished supplies […] Imagery provides a visceral understanding of the value of this river. It deepens our sense of community and stimulates appreciation for the many ways in which this river is loved—and being loved to death. These stunning pictures and the stories that accompany them offer touchstones of understanding of the river’s dilemma and furnish a foundation for a stronger commitment to sustainability.”

Learn more about the book.

Key findings from latest National Water Leaders Survey

Water Policy Group has released key findings from its latest ‘Listening to National Water Leaders’ survey, as a contribution to the UN 2023 Water Conference (22-24 March 2023).

The results provide insights from water leaders about how the United Nations and other international processes can help achieve water outcomes at the country level.

Water leaders from 92 countries across all regions participated in this project. Together, these countries make up a combined population of 5.7 billion—or 73% of the world’s population. The findings are now available for all UN member States and other entities to use as they prepare for the UN 2023 Water Conference.

Water Policy Group
14 March 2023

Download report.

Media enquiries: Trish Dalby | 

Policy scaffolding for water management issues

Water Policy Group proposes a new approach to help policy-makers solve the most sensitive water management issues.

The idea of global ‘scaffolding’ for water policy is to assist governments to work through difficult water management decisions using global principles and guidance agreed through an inclusive inter-government and multi-stakeholder process.

Water Policy Group offers the concept for consideration by the United Nations 2023 Water Conference (New York 22-24 March 2023).

Water Policy Group
14 March 2023

Read concept note

2022 Global Water Leaders Survey launched with support from United Nations

The 2022 Global Water Leaders Survey has been formally launched by Water Policy Group following a meeting convened by the President of the United Nations General Assembly (UN PGA) in New York on 24 October 2022.

Addressing the meeting, Water Policy Group member Olcay Ünver described how the results of the 2022 Global Water Leaders survey would contribute to the outcomes of the United Nations 2023 Water Conference, which is the midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action, ‘Water for Sustainable Development’, 2018-2028.

“Water Policy Group offers to support the United Nations 2023 Water Conference by drawing on the collective experience and perspective of Ministers and national water leaders with specific goal of contributing to the substance of Water Action Agenda and Water Action Decade, and improving alignment between water and other public policy outcomes,” said Mr Ünver.

In partnership with the University of New South Wales Global Water Institute, the 2022 Global Water Leaders Survey will gather thoughts and opinions from national water leaders from all over the world, feeding into the 2023 Global Water Policy Report. The Report will provide valuable insights into how water could be made a higher priority within national governments, how multilateral processes could help to achieve better water outcomes at the national level, and the level of agreeance between ministerial colleagues on the extent to which water outcomes contribute to other public policy objectives. The Report will also include a section on risks and challenges that impact national water leaders, building on the results of the previous survey to secure a deeper dataset and perspective—and identify whether key risks and challenges have evolved over the past year.

The inaugural Water Policy Report, the 2021 Global Water Policy Report: Listening to Water Leaders was released in November 2021, reflecting data from water leaders from 88 countries. Among the many findings, it revealed that the Sustainable Development Goalson water were ‘challenging’ or ‘impossible’ for many, with governance problems and lack of financing the main reasons for this.

Upon publication of the 2021 Report, then UN-Water Vice-Chair Ms Kelly Ann Naylor expressed her support, saying, “By surveying water leaders from all regions of the world, this report is a key point of reference as we move towards the UN 2023 water conference.”

Water Policy Group member and project Chair Mr Tom Soo said that the Group is encouraged by the support received so far.

“The 2023 conference is a major opportunity for nations around the world to collectively take a step forward in facing our water challenges,” said Mr Soo.

“Water Policy Group is extremely encouraged that the UN PGA and all those involved in the conference’s preparatory processes understand the importance of and support the water leader’s survey.  We’ll now look forward to the responses from water leaders around the world and delivering the findings in the leadup to the water conference next year.”

Water ministers of all UN Member States will be invited to participate in the 2022 Survey, which will close in mid-December.

The 2023 Global Water Policy Report and a summary of key findings will be released at the UN 2023 Water Conference in New York on 22-24 March 2023.

Questions about eligibility and survey access can be directed to

Water Policy Group
23 November 2022

Download statement  |   Read concept note

Message to COP27: Think Water

Water Policy Group urges all governments to integrate action on water and climate change at every level and calls on experts and organizations to support this ambition.

We echo this week’s statement by Water and Climate Leaders  which challenged governments to acknowledge in the negotiated outcome document for COP27 the important contribution water can make to climate mitigation and adaptation.

We also welcome the release of Essential Drop To Net Zero: Unpacking Freshwater’s Role In Climate Change Mitigation and its detailed analysis of how improved water management can contribute to emission reductions and in doing so deliver multiple other benefits. The report finds that wastewater treatment and discharge account for 11.84 per cent and 4.28 per cent of global methane and nitrous oxide emissions, respectively, and that emissions from untreated wastewater are three times higher than emissions from conventional wastewater treatment plants. These climate benefits should enhance the investment case for improved wastewater management—adding to the proven economic, social and environment benefits.

Water can be managed to achieve higher climate resilience with adaptation interventions throughout the water cycle, lowering energy demand, boosting sustainable agriculture, and improving health. The WPG urges commitment to innovative water policies to enable the full realization of SDG6 while pursuing Paris Agreement goals.

The climate emergency requires water resources and water services to be better managed than ever before.  This can and must be done!

Water Policy Group
10 November 2022

Download statement

Address from Olcay Unver at the 2022 stakeholder consultation on the preparation of the United Nations 2023 Water Conference

On behalf of the Water Policy Group, Dr Olcay Ünver made an address during the 2022 stakeholder consultation on the preparation of the United Nations 2023 Water Conference. He presented two game-changing proposals on behalf of the Water Policy Group: (1) listening to national water leaders, and (2) mainstreaming water into all UN conferences.

View the speech here.

Anne Castle appointed U.S Commissioner of Upper Colorado Basin Commission

Water Policy Group founding member Anne Castle has been appointed the United States Commissioner of the Upper Colorado River Commission.

The Upper Colorado River Commission is an interstate water administrative agency established by action of five state legislatures and Congress. Its role is to ensure the appropriate allocation of water from the Colorado River to the Upper Division States of Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico and to ensure compliance with the 1922 Colorado River Compact to the Lower Division States of Nevada, Arizona, and California and to the Republic of Mexico.

Anne will be joined on the commission by four state appointed representatives from the Upper Division states of the Colorado River Basin: Ms. Becky Mitchell, Commissioner for Colorado; Mr. Brandon Gebhart Commissioner for Wyoming; Mr. Gene Shawcroft, Commissioner for Utah; and Mr. Estevan Lopez, Commissioner for New Mexico.

“The Commission has very ably guided the Upper Basin states through many controversies and difficulties in the Colorado River Basin over the past 75 years,” said Castle.  “I’m pleased to participate in its ongoing efforts to address the impacts of climate change in the basin and share the benefits the river provides in an equitable way.”

In a media release published by U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (Colorado) Bennet says, “Anne’s decades of experience focusing on Western water and the Colorado River will be an incredible asset in support of their effort to face the unprecedented challenges plaguing the Colorado River Basin due to climate change and severe drought.”

Castle served as Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the Department of the Interior from 2009 to 2014 where she spearheaded the Department’s WaterSMART program and oversaw the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey until 2014. From 1981 to 2009, Castle practiced water law at Denver, Colorado-based law firm Holland & Hart where she chaired the Management Committee and Natural Resources Department.

In addition to being a member of the Water Policy Group, Castle serves as a senior fellow at the University of Colorado’s Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment, focusing on Western water issues including the Colorado River operational policy and the integration of water and land use planning. She is the immediate past president of the Colorado Water Trust and serves on boards or advisory committees for Colorado Legal Services, the Salazar Center for North American Conservation, Airborne Snow Observatories, Stanford University’s Water in the West program, and the Colorado River Water and Tribes Initiative, where she co-leads an initiative on universal access to clean and safe water in Tribal Communities.

Vale Mark Pascoe – a global water leader lost too soon

Water Policy Group mourns the passing of Mark Pascoe, Chief Executive Officer of the International WaterCentre and Governing Council Chair of the Asia Pacific Water Forum.

Water Policy Group member and fellow Australian Tony Slatyer, who had known Mark professionally for nearly 20 years, describes Mark as the epitome of effective leadership.

“Mark was a great role model in the global water family with his deep commitment to our cause, his determination to achieve the best possible outcomes from every project and every event and his generous spirit and friendliness to all of us.  Mark had earned respect and affection from the broad water policy and professional community, in Australia and all around the world, and his loss will be deeply felt by all of us who had the privilege of working with him,” Mr Slatyer said.

Water Policy Group extends our sympathy to Mark’s family and his colleagues at the International Water Centre and the Asia Pacific Water Forum in their difficult time.

Anne Castle, Mercedes Castro, Dr Jane Doolan, Felicia Marcus, Dhesigen Naidoo, Ravi Narayanan, Oyun Sanjaasuren, Tony Slatyer, Tom Soo, Dr Olcay Unver.

2022 Asia-Pacific Water Policy Report now available

The 2022 Asia-Pacific Water Policy Report was launched during the 2nd High Level International Conference on International Decade for Action, “Water For Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

The Report highlights Asia-Pacific water issues for high level political leadership and policy makers’ attention. It aims to support countries in their efforts to achieve better water outcomes, and reflects the opinions, perspectives and experience of Ministers, agency heads, senior officials, and others whose job it is to make difficult decisions on water management in their respective countries.

The Asia-Pacific Water Policy Report is based on the experiences and perspectives of national water leaders from 30 countries in the Asia-Pacific Region. Among them, they have responsibility for achieving ‘sustainable water for all’ for over 3.8 billion million people.

In summary, this is what they are saying:

  • National water leaders in the Asia-Pacific region consider the highest water-related risks their countries face are climate change and associated pressures on water supplies and worsening floods and
  • The greatest challenges they face are inadequate infrastructure, data and public awareness coupled with the problem of administrative fragmentation.
  • Many consider the Sustainable Development Goal 6 targets to be ‘challenging’ or ‘impossible’ to achieve, with governance problems and lack of financing the main reasons for this.
  • While groundwater is considered by many national water leaders in the Asia-Pacific region to be essential to their country’s future water supply, far fewer consider their groundwater is being used sustainably.
  • The results from the national water leaders of the Asia-Pacific region largely mirror the concerns and issues of their counterparts across the world, as revealed in the 2021 Global Water Policy Report.

The 2022 Asia-Pacific Water Policy Report was prepared by the Water Policy Group in partnership with the University of New South Wales Sydney Global Water Institute.

Download the full report here.