The theme for World Water Day 2018 is ‘Nature for Water’ – exploring 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 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.
How can water utilities take action?
Water and sanitation utilities are the essential vehicles for delivering the services needed to meet Sustainable Development Goal 6 – ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030. With the pressures of rapid urbanization, water-related crisis and climate change, we need strong utilities to withstand these challenges and, in doing so, alleviate the stresses on our ecosystems.
Through the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) at Sant Pau, UN-Habitat supports public water utilities and helps them help one another to tap into the enormous potential within the global community to share capacity for the benefit of all. This is done through Water Operators’ Partnerships (WOPs). WOPs are not-for profit partnerships between two or more water and/or sanitation operators carried out in the objective of strengthening their capacity to sustainably provide quality services.
In the past decade, over 100 WOPs have helped utilities increase their water efficiency, safely manage wastewater and fortify disaster management procedures. WOPs are a relevant avenue to help utilities prepare for water-related crisis and to replicate the existing knowledge and the good practices that reside within many utilities around the world.
Follow GWOPA/UN-Habitat on social media and find out how we will be celebrating World Water Day with the water community at the 8th World Water Forum.