On 22nd March it was World Water Day; an awareness day created to focus on the importance of water and the need to provide access to everyone.
I have to admit, it was only because of a surfer I follow on Instagram that I even found out about World Water Day.
But once I’d done a little research, I thought this was probably something more people should be aware of.
It’s particularly interesting to anyone who participates in water sports or is passionate about marine conservation or humanitarian issues.
But you know what? It should be wider than that because we all need water to survive so we should all be concerned about it’s quality and availability.
World Water Day is coordinated by The Convention on Biological Diversity, UN Environment and UNESCO on behalf of UN-Water.
2018 is the 25th year the awareness day has been active and the attention has turned back to nature, asking the question: how can we use nature-based solutions to answer some of the water challenges we currently face?
They have estimated that today a staggering 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home. This lack of access affects their health, education and livelihood.
Water demand and availability isn’t the only problem though. Water quality is taking a hit thanks to damaged ecosystems, which are causing available water supplies to be unfit for human consumption.
And then there are issues related to climate and the environment. No one could possibly have missed all the recent news about our oceans being pumped full of sewage and plastic, which is threatening our food chains and the lives of hundreds of marine species.
Water is vital to our survival so with this many challenges facing our finite supply, should we be worried?
In the UN Sustainable Development Goals, one is focused solely on water, ensuring that everyone has access to a safe and clean supply by 2030 with targets on protecting the natural environment and reducing pollution.
This is good – it gives countries a goal to work towards and an incentive to make things better.
But it does look like there’s a long way to go. The World Water Day website had a series of images which reveal some shocking facts.
So what’s the solution?
Well, this year’s World Water Day aimed to direct everyone’s attention to nature-based solutions; using our natural world to help meet the water needs of a growing population, while also helping to protect nature and reduce pollution.
What are nature-based solutions? Exactly what I thought.
The answer, is so incredibly simple.
Things like restoring forests, grasslands and natural wetlands, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and creating buffers of vegetation along water courses are all examples of this. Methods which can all help the management of water availability and quality.
Of course, nature-based solutions won’t answer all our problems, but they can help significantly.
The World Water Day website lists a variety of ways in which these methods can tackle water availability, water supply, water quality and risk management relating to climate change (flooding etc).
And the reason I think nature-based solutions are better than man-made ones? Because not only will they address some of our water problems, but they can also provide biomass for energy production, improve biodiversity and create recreational spaces and associated employment.
It sounds like a big issue, so what can we do?
Spread the word and think about the way you use and re-use water. Collect rainwater to water indoor plants. Only fill the kettle up as much as you need to. Take shorter showers.
Charities like Water Aid provide tonnes of information about lack of water access, and ways to get involved. If you’re really interested, it’s also worth taking a look at the World Water website and thinking about how important water is to you – not just to help you survive but also to your state of mind.
Studies have proven that when we’re near large expanses of water, we feel calmer and happier. Would we feel this way if the water was dirty and polluted?
If you love it as much as I do, you’ll want to help make sure that everyone has access, and that the water on our earth is clean and safe.