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World Water Day 2018: nature-based water solutions

Damaged ecosystems affect the quantity and quality of the water available for human consumption and other activities. Currently, there are 2.1 billion people living without drinking water in their homes, which affects their health, education and means of subsistence.

In regard to climate change and the environment:

  • Globally, more than 80% of the wastewater generated by humans is dumped to the environment without being treated or reused.
  • The number of people at risk of suffering floods is expected to increase from 1.2 billion today, to close to 1.6 billion by 2050, almost 20% of the world’s population.
  • Today, approximately 1.8 billion people are affected by the degradation of land and desertification. At least 65% of forest land is in a degraded state.
  • It has been estimated that since 1900, between 64% and 71% of the natural wetlands have been lost as a result of human activity.
  • Soil erosion from farmland carries away between 25 and 40 billion tons of topsoil every year, which considerably reduces crop production and the ground’s ability to regulate water, carbon and nutrients.

This year, the theme of World Water Day is focused on how nature provides comprehensive and sustainable solutions to respond to the planet’s water challenges. As we often say, “nature is wise”, and for this reason, nature-based solutions such as planting trees to restore forests, restoration of wetlands or water collection may be a sustainable and effective way to help rebalance the water cycle, mitigate the effects of climate change and improve health and the environment.

What is a nature-based solution (NBS)?

A nature-based solution, as the name suggests, is an innovative and environmental option based on the planet’s natural cycle, especially in regard to vegetation, soil and wetlands, to complement insufficient water infrastructure. Some examples include:

  • For water availability and supply: water storage using wetlands, refilling underground water through the soil, green spaces through infiltration and bio-restoration, permeable pavement…
  • For water quality: sustainable agriculture to reduce the contamination of current agriculture, reforestation and conservation of forests, wetland construction…
  • For the management of extreme events (droughts, floods, etc.): protection and restoration of mangrove swamps, coastal marshes and dunes, protection of coral reef barriers, construction of permeable pavements and green roofs, flood diversion…

NBSs often produce benefits that go beyond water-related services. For example, wetlands built for wastewater can provide biomass for energy production, improve biodiversity and create spaces for leisure and employment associated with them.

In addition, nature-based solutions can play a vital role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. NBSs combat poverty by providing jobs associated with their initiatives (goals 1, 2 and 8), require little or no source of energy (goal 7 and 12), help provide healthier water and in greater quantities (goal 6) and help reduce contamination and increase biodiversity (goals 13, 14 and 15).

Almar Water Solutions is well-aware of the challenges that the planet and humanity are facing. For this reason, it develops customized solutions that help improve people’s lives, while at the same time protecting and conserving natural spaces where they carry out their activities, to achieve a more responsible and sustainable future.

 

Sources:

  • UNESCO (2018) United Nations World Water Development Report 2018: Nature-based solutions for water