IUCN - World Water Week: Nature turns on the tap

World Water Week: Nature turns on the tap

21 August 2011 | News story

How do we ensure safe access to water and sanitation for the planet’s growing urban population? This question will be discussed at the World Water Week from 21-27 August in Stockholm. The theme this year is ‘Responding to Global Changes: Water in an Urbanising World’. IUCN’s answer comes from nature itself.

Coping with growing water needs in cities is one of the most pressing challenges of this century. With the planet’s burgeoning population expected to hit seven billion in 2011 and with more than half of humanity living in cities, increasing pressure on freshwater is stretching this vital resource to its limits. As cities grow, they are looking further away to secure access to freshwater. This can lead to tensions across borders. According to IUCN, natural infrastructure and sound water management are key elements of sustainable solutions to these problems and form an important part of a green economy.

IUCN Solutions:

Natural infrastructure: “Healthy ecosystems in river and groundwater basins upstream keep clean water flowing to cities and are key for building the social and economic resilience needed for cities to cope with climate change,” says Mark Smith, Director of the IUCN Global Water Programme. “Wetlands filter and clean water for free and healthy rivers deliver it to people in cities. Healthy forests and wetlands store water, and well-managed floodplains reduce the vulnerability of cities downstream.”

Green economy: “Many of the world’s big cities have understood that protecting natural ecosystems to secure their water supplies makes economic sense,” says Ganesh Pangare, Coordinator of the IUCN Asia Water Programme. “Keeping water catchments healthy saves billions of dollars in costly urban infrastructure built to store, clean or transfer water.”

Cross-border cooperation: "IUCN’s recently launched BRIDGE project will help ensure that water management reforms are coordinated across borders,” says Alejandro Iza, Director of the IUCN Environmental Law Centre. “Better cooperation among countries that share water is vital in making sure that the development of water resources is sustainable and progress in bringing safe water supplies is faster.”

Spokespeople:

Mark Smith, Director IUCN Global Water Programme, mark.smith@iucn.org
Ganesh Pangare, Coordinator IUCN Asia Water Programme, ganesh.pangare@iucn.org
Alejandro Iza, Director IUCN Environmental Law Centre, alejandro.iza@iucn.org

Material for the Media:

Photos for download, “Water and Cities”: http://tinyurl.com/3v4x9lp
The IUCN booth is in the main part of the conference exhibition. Journalists can visit and collect publications.

IUCN Events:

21 August, 09:00 - 12:30, Seminar “Meeting Adaptation Demands for Water: Information, Finance and Integration”, Room T6
21 August, 09:00 - 12:30, Seminar “EcoHealth ”, Room K16/17
21 August, 17:45 - 18:45, Side Event “Ramsar at 40: A Global Framework for Water and Ecosystem Solutions”, Room K16/17
22 August, 12:15 - 13:15, Side Event “IUCN Water and Nature Initiative: A Treasure Trove of IWRM Knowledge”, Room K16/17
22 August, 15:30 - 18:45, Seminar “Strengthening Water Diplomacy in Transboundary Basins”, Room K23
23 August, 09:00 - 12:30, Seminar “Water and Green Growth: Examining the Links”, Room T5
24 August, 14:00 - 17:30, Seminar “Living on the Edge: Management in Coastal Cities”, Room T4
24 August, 14:00 - 17:30, Seminar “Founders Business Seminar 2011 - The Role of Business”, Room T2
24 August, 14:00 - 17:30, Seminar “Americas' Regional Panel on Water and Climate Change”, Room T3
24 August, 14:00 - 17:30, Seminar “Living on the Edge: Management in Coastal Cities”, Room T4
25 August, 09:00 - 12:30, Seminar “Science and Tools for Freshwater Conservation in an Urbanising World”, Room T4

For more information contact:

In Stockholm: Claire Warmenbol, IUCN Water Programme, claire.warmenbol@iucn.org, t +41 79 404 19 73
Ewa Magiera, IUCN Communications Officer, ewa.magiera@iucn.org, t +41 76 505 33 78