Water management and performance on local and global scales : A comparison between two regions and their possibilities of knowledge transfer

Abstract: The problem to secure safe water supply, good sanitation and a good watercourse and marine environment status has become increasingly complex and at the same time more and more important to meet. It has been recognized, that an integrated approach must be used to meet not only technical and scientific aspects, but the role should also be included of factors such as economics, acceptability, capacity building, and efficient management in the overall view. Integrated approach efforts need to be introduced at different levels, i.e. among the population as well as at municipal, regional (county administrative board, county council, water authority) national and international (EU, global) levels. An important goal is that various activities should follow similar objectives.One important factor in this respect is the Brundtland report in which the concept of sustainability was highlighted and universally accepted, even though similar ideas had been put forward earlier. Based on the concept of sustainability a common policy has been developed from Agenda 21 at the local level to globally formulated Millennium targets. Independently of the country, general consensus seems to exist on overall goals for water and sanitation. However, there is a big difference in the way the goals have been implemented in different countries depending on priorities to other areas of concern as political systems, economic conditions, and the degree of capacity building. The experience developed in Sweden and in large parts of the Western world has been judged to be of great value to be transferred to other countries with a lower development or lower standards of water and sewerage systems. For this reason, several global and regional agreements are presented, and two regions (the Baltic Sea and the MENA regions) were chosen to assess similarities and differences between them. Obvious differences are the relatively abundant supply of water in the Baltic region, while the MENA region is one of the world's poorest regions with regard to water availability. Major differences also exist between countries within each region. Among the similarities is the need to achieve similar demands on the quality of discharged wastewater in the long run. The Baltic Sea Action Plan controls the stringent requirements of wastewater quality in the Baltic region, and in the MENA region the growing interest in wastewater reuse for irrigation, industrial use and also for reuse as clean water is the guiding factor.On the national level Sweden and Iraq have been selected for description and discussion and at local level Växjö in Sweden and the cities of Baghdad and Erbil in Iraq and the Kurdistan region of Iraq, respectively. While Växjö municipality has been able to follow a path in line with achieving sustainability the situation of cities in Iraq and Kurdistan are entirely different due to failed investments and maintenance of infrastructure for a long time as well as the effects of war. This is discussed in detail and the actions needed to restore and improve the infrastructure are described.