World Water Day
World Water Day (WWD) is celebrated on 22 March every year to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The United Nations General Assembly initiated this response on 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.
When we neglect our ecosystem, it results into environmental damage and climate change. Degradation of vegetation, soil, rivers and lakes due to these changes further leads to floods, drought and water pollution.
The theme for WWD, 2018 is “Nature for Water” – it explores how we can use nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century.
This year’s WWD theme signifies that ‘the answer is in nature’ and raises awareness of nature-based solutions (NBS) such as planting trees to replenish forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands. NBS are sustainable and cost-effective ways to help rebalance the water cycle; mitigate the effects of climate change and improve human health and livelihoods.
Currently, water management is dominated by traditional, human-built ‘grey’ infrastructure and NBS is underutilized. There is need to increase ‘green’ infrastructure and harmonize it with ‘grey’ infrastructure wherever possible.
NBS not only help to meet the water needs of a growing population but also help in achieving target of Sustainable Development Goal 6 to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.
- 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services worldwide.
- Globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the environment without being treated or reused
- Agriculture currently accounts for 70% of global water withdrawals mostly for irrigation, industry takes 20% of the total water, the remaining 10% goes to domestic use and the proportion used for drinking water is much less than 1%.
- By 2050, the world’s population will have grown by an estimated 2 billion people and global water demand could be up to 30% higher than today.
Examples of nature- based solutions for water conservation
Sand dams: A sand dam is a small dam build above ground and into the riverbed of a seasonal sand river.
Landscape restoration: It is an ongoing process of regaining deforested or degraded forest landscape.
Conservation agriculture: It is a set of soil management practices that minimize the disruption of the soil's structure, composition and natural biodiversity.
Sponge cities: It is an initiative for making cities act as a sponge to reduce the intensity of rainwater runoff by enhancing and distributing absorption capacities more evenly across targeted areas in the cities. This can be achieved by replacing concrete pavements with wetlands, permeable pavements, promoting green rooftops and rain gardens.
Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)*: It is an initiative of Ministry of Housing and Urban affairs with the mission to focus on water supply, sewerage facilities, storm water drains to reduce flooding, creating and upgrading green spaces and other facilities in the urban areas.
Central Water Commission** acts to promote integrated and sustainable development and management of India's water resources by using state-of-art technology and competency with coordinating all stake holders.