“Nature for Water”: World Water Day 2018

world water day
World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is about focusing attention on the importance of water. This year’s theme, ‘Nature for Water’, explores nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.
Environmental damage, together with climate change, is driving the water-related crises we see around the world. Floods, drought and water pollution are all made worse by degraded vegetation, soil, rivers, and lakes. When we neglect our ecosystems, we make it harder to provide everyone with the clean water we need to survive and thrive.Nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of our water challenges. We need to do so much more with ‘green’ infrastructure and harmonize it with ‘grey’ infrastructure wherever possible. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands will rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods.

Only 3% of the world’s water is fresh, drinkable and usable for agriculture. The rest 97% is seawater. In this 3%, over 2.5% is frozen, locked up in Antarctica, the Arctic and in mountain glaciers. They are not available for human and ecosystem needs. We rely only on 0.5%.  3.6 billion people face water scarcity and this number could rise to 5.7 billion by 2050 (Audrey Azoulay, Director General, UNESCO).  1.2 billion people are affected by floods and 1.8 billion are affected by land degradation. At least 65% forest land is lost; 64-71% of wetland is lost because of human activity since 1900. Every year 25 to 40 billion tones of topsoil are eroded from the agricultural lands. Mining, including sand mining, threatens the water sources.

zambezi waterfall

Resolving the water issue: There are three approaches to resolve the water problem.

  1.  Efficient use of water: It means using water economically, without wasting it. The 2017 water day theme was Why wasting water? to inspire people not to waste water. we can adopt water conservation ethical practices:
  • keeping the water flow closed when not needed, while bathing, shaving, brushing, washing face.
  • Operating washing machines only when they are fully loaded.
  • Avoiding water leakage from taps.
  • Washing the dishes with soap water and fresh water kept in basins than in running water.
  • Avoiding installation of water purifier as much as possible.
  • Installing drip irrigation for cultivation where ever possible.
  • Avoiding over-fertilizing the garden, as fertilizers increase the water need and also contaminate the water bodies.

2. Nature-Based Solutions(NBS) for water crisis: Efficiency approach does not open the perception to the global factors like the destruction of nature, unjust distribution of water etc. Efficiency approach does not disturb the status quo and does not challenge the unsustainable exploitation of water. The theme for this year is Nature for Water. It means that the solutions for water problem are in nature. So the Nature-Based Solutions are the sustainable ones. NBS aims to protect and restore the natural ecosystems on the one hand and simultaneously attend to the needs of human and the biodiversity. NBS engages in the:

  • Restoration of forests,
  • Managing the ocean and the coastal zone,
  • Protecting the water sources like rivers, lake, wetlands, grasslands etc.
  • In making preferred investments in green infrastructure (restoring ecosystem) than in grey infrastructure (construction with cement and iron).

3. Water is Human Right: ‘Who will benefit from the water?’ is a central question.  The UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 6, makes a commitment to ensure availability of water and sanitation, for all people, by 2030.  So non-accessibility to water is a human right violation. The governments have the obligation to serve the water right of people; so it is no more an act of charity but an obligation.

Despite this international commitment, the governments have not approached water from human right perspective. The governments give the water resources to Corporates which are involved in mega agribusiness, beverage, mining, and energy production. The water is robbed from small farmers and indigenous people. This is a serious human right violation. To achieve water justice we have to do lobbying by:

  • Networking with other civil society organizations.
  • Campaigning to restore the right of local communities on the water resources.
  •  Campaigning to restrict the power of governments to alienate the water from people.
  • Defining a hierarchy for water use that prioritizes environmental needs and human needs over commercial use.
  • We shall learn, inspire and initiate actions to ensure water and sanitation for all by 2030

Video:“Nature for water”: World water day 2018

Learn more and get inspired by stories about nature-based solutions on www.worldwaterday.org

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