Celebrating this year’s World Water Day, Dr. Milika Sobey from the IUCN Oceania office in Fiji highlights the importance of ‘protecting forests, mangroves, and the restoration of river ecosystems to maintain and improve water quality which is vital to preserve ecosystem health, and ultimately provide clean water for people’.
This year World Water Day focuses on Clean Water for a Healthy World and will raise awareness on the importance of water quality for human health and the environment. ‘Without healthy ecosystems rivers are more prone to flooding due to sedimentation caused by poor watershed management practices’ said Sobey, ‘and floods often bring with them disease and pollution as people try and clean up after the event’.
More effort is required to raise awareness to the services a healthy environment provides to society. Water supply services globally extract water from rivers and groundwater, and keeping those sources clean is a priority for the IUCN Water Programme through improved watershed management and good water governance. People often forget that human and industrial waste is treated with, and ultimately ends up in our water environment, and so rivers and other water systems not only provide the sources of water, but also the waste sink – they help to clean and purify wastewater for re-use, either by society, the environment, or by the hydrological cycle to fall as rain or snow on the planet.
The IUCN Water and Nature Initiative (WANI) is now in its second phase. Implemented since 2001 the WANI programme takes a locally grounded approach to implementing integrated water resources management around the globe, from drylands to the tropics, from lakes to glacial fed rivers, wetlands and groundwater, the programme focuses on sustainable development for people and the environment around them.