Nature-based Solutions to the World’s Water Challenges

Today is World Water Day and this year’s theme ‘Nature for Water‘ focuses on nature-based solutions to the world’s water challenges. The ‘answer is in nature‘ campaign aims to help raise awareness for nature-based solutions (NBS) such as tree planting to replenish forests, re-connecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands – as sustainable and cost-effective ways to help re-balance the water cycle, mitigate the effects of climate change and improve human health and livelihoods.

nature based solutions to water challenges

Water challenges such as floods, droughts and water pollution have serious health, economic, social and environmental impacts and nature-based solutions to these challenges that help to build ‘green’ infrastructure can also help to create a more circular economy, enhance biodiversity and ecosystems and reduce pollution.

“For too long, the world has turned first to human-built, or “grey”, infrastructure to improve water management. In so doing, it has often brushed aside traditional and Indigenous knowledge that embraces greener approaches. Three years into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is time for us to re-examine nature-based solutions (NBS) to help achieve water management objectives”, writes Gilbert Houngbo, Chair of UN-Water and President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development in the foreword of the report.

Nature-based solutions can help provide innovative and cost-effective options for supplementing insufficient or ageing water infrastructure through for example enhancing water availability and supply, water quality and helping to manage risks.

World Water Day 2018

UNESCO’s World Water Development Report of 2018, estimates that 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services and that by 2050, the world’s population will have grown by an estimated 2 billion people and global water demand could be up to 30% higher than today.

The 2018 edition of the World Water Development Report seeks to inform policy and decision-makers, inside and outside the water community, about the potential of nature-based solutions (NBS) to address contemporary water management challenges across all sectors, and particularly regarding water for agriculture, sustainable cities, disaster
2018 risk reduction and improving water quality.


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