The United Nations and other international water protectors are celebrating the 25th anniversary of World Water Day on March 22.
The event is part of the 8th World Water Day Forum being held this week in Brasilia, Brazil, where the United Nations is releasing its annual World Water Report – 'Nature-Based Solutions for Water.' It's also initiating International Decade for Action on Water (2018-2028) to meet Sustainable Development Goal 6: everyone has reliable access to safe water by 2030.
The report says that approximately 64 to 71 percent of natural wetlands have been lost since 1900 due to human activity. The authors say that ecosystem degradation is the main reason 780 million people do not have access to clean water and another 1.9 billion people live in areas where water is already scarce.
High rates of soil erosion are limiting the water cycle around the world, creating "higher evaporation rates, lower soil water storage and… increased erosion." That's why the United Nations is calling for organizations to use nature to restore water accessibility.
The report says that sand dams – sand walls dug into the ground across a river bed in arid regions that become water reservoirs – built into the Sashane River in Zimbabwe have enabled local people to store and use accumulated river and rainwater.
The United Nations hopes that by 2020, 16 pilot cities will implement nature-based water saving measures, such as green roofs and walls, and permeable pavements to capture water and direct it into irrigation systems in order to reuse up to 70 percent of precipitation.
Inaccess to reliable irrigation and potable water is worse in Mexico, China, Southern Europe, central regions of the United States, parts of Australia, Western South America and Southern Africa, and it's projected to rise another 30 percent by 2050, according to the report.
Speakers at the World Water Day event in Brazil include Minister of the Environment Tarney Filho, Executive Director of the Stockholm International Water Institute Torgny Holmgren, and Mansour Faye, Senegalese minister of hydraulics and sanitation.