Wake up: Nature has solution for world water crisis, says IUCN

Ministers at the World Water Forum need to pay more attention to the environment if they want to solve the world’s water crisis, according to IUCN.

Lake Chala, a crater lake southeast of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania Photo: IUCN Photo Library © Jim Thorsell

“Governments have to realize that nature has a vital role to play in giving people clean drinking water, food and livelihoods,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of IUCN. “We don’t want an engineered agenda. If we invest in the natural environment we will see countless benefits – and leave a better world for future generations.”

More than 900 million people around the world lack access to a safe and adequate water supply and two-thirds of the world's population will face water shortages by 2025.

“The situation is only going to get worse in the face of the growing threats posed by climate change,” says Mark Smith, Head of IUCN’s Water Programme. “But if we look after the world’s river basins, lakes and wetlands, we stand a better chance of being able to cope with the effects of global warming. These areas can act as shields to help protect us from floods and store precious drinking water.”

Pressure on water resources is increasing rapidly as the world’s population grows, nature is destroyed and households, agriculture, industry and power generation demand more water.

“We need to find ways to make sure that everybody gets their fair share of water – but at the same time, make sure that the environment doesn’t miss out,” adds Smith. “The message from Istanbul is clear. As ministers prepare for the key climate change conference this December in Copenhagen, they must make sure water is firmly on the climate change agenda.”

“The end of the world isn’t nigh but it will be dry if nothing is done to protect this most precious of resources,” adds Marton-Lefèvre. “In this time of economic crises, IUCN calls on business leaders and governments to invest in nature as the best way of promoting a healthy economic future.”

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Work area: 
Climate Change
Freshwater species
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