Every year, World Water Day brings attention to the dilemma of water scarcity and the importance of sustainably managing fresh water resources. Now more than ever, it is essential to pave the way for innovative solutions in water management.
In the recently published UN World Water Development Report, Audrey Azoulay, Head of UNESCO said that “5 billion people will be living in areas with poor access to water by 2050”. Demand for water is already high and will continue to increase due to population growth, consumption shifts and economic development. This year’s theme, Nature for Water, draws attention to exploring nature-based innovations for water management. The UN applauds three countries for their green infrastructure which focuses on preserving ecosystems.
- China’s rainwater recycling– The premise of ‘Sponge City’, a recent initiative by the government of China, is to retain urban runoff for reuse. Through improved water permeation, retention and storage, the project is attempting to counteract the negative effects of urban construction. The initiative is ultimately aiming to reuse 70 percent of the country’s rain water.
- India’s forest regeneration– In 1986 Rajasthan experienced one of its worst droughts in history. Groundwater levels fell below critical levels. In response, a local NGO, Tarun Bharat Sangh, supported local communities to undertake restoration of water cycles. Since women are usually tasked with the responsibility of bringing clean water to their families, they were the primary leaders on the project. Activities focused on building water harvesting structures and regenerating forests and soils. Water was brought back to 1000 villages and was restored in five rivers that previously ran dry.
- Ukraine’s artificial wetlands– A multi-year study in Ukraine found that using wetlands could effectively remove up to 90 percent of pharmaceuticals from wastewater. The constructed wetlands also removed 20 to 60 percent of metals and trapped 80 to 90 percent of sediment from runoff.
These examples show that innovative ways of combatting water scarcity are successful and necessary to achieve SDG 6.
photo credit: World Bank