Invest in nature, ensure water resilience
14 August 2009 | News story
World Water Week, held in Stockholm, Sweden, from 16 to 22 August, gathers more than 2500 experts to help resolve the growing water crisis. Less than one percent of the world's fresh water is readily accessible for direct human use.
With climate change predicted to have severe impacts on the water cycle, global water challenges will become increasingly acute.
Investing in nature is a cost-effective and sustainable solution to ensure water resilience. Water storage infrastructure ensures millions of city dwellers can have access to water and is fundamental for global food security. Nature is part of the critical water infrastructure of every nation. This infrastructure includes wetlands, lakes and rivers, and the watersheds that supply them.
Natural infrastructure restoration along with reforming water governance is critical, to support coordinated action by governments and communities that meets the needs of both people and nature. In Nigeria, where IUCN works in the Lake Chad Basin, this combination led to a 90% reduction in water conflicts reaching the local courts. Good water governance and healthy natural infrastructure is the basis for climate and water resilience.
IUCN urges governments to do more to protect the natural environment and make better use of the services nature offers for development and human security. Healthy rivers and wetlands deliver services for people, such as clean drinking water, food security, energy and sustainable livelihoods.
• Build resilience with nature: “Healthy ecosystems provide vital services that build social and economic resilience needed to cope with climate change,” says Mark Smith, Head of IUCN’s Water Programme. “Well-managed floodplains reduce the vulnerability of cities downstream, intact mangroves buffer coasts against storms, and healthy forests and wetlands reduce disaster risks.”
• Environment as infrastructure: “People and the economy are more vulnerable to impacts of climate change such as floods, droughts, storms and sea-level rise where watersheds and coasts are degraded,” says Ganesh Pangare, IUCN’s Water Coordinator for Asia. “The environment provides critical natural infrastructure for climate change adaptation. Strategies for investment to reduce vulnerability will need to include maintenance and restoration of watersheds, wetlands, rivers and coasts.”
• Knowledge is a key resource to tackle water problems around the world. “Together with good knowledge, financial resources and political will are needed to make adequate changes. As our cities grow we take more resources from nature; water, wood, nutrients, etc. Protecting ecosystems requires close collaboration amongst scientists, governments, communities and the business world to ensure society benefits from nature”, says James Dalton, IUCN Water Management Advisor.
For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:
• Brian Thomson, IUCN Media and Campaigns Manager, e firstname.lastname@example.org
• Claire Warmenbol, IUCN Water Programme, m + 41 79 404 1973, e email@example.com
• Mark Smith, Head of IUCN Water Programme, e firstname.lastname@example.org
• James Dalton, Water Management Advisor, e email@example.com
• Ganesh Pangare, Water Coordinator Asia, e firstname.lastname@example.org