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The UN World Water Development Report 2018, aligned with the World Water Day theme, demonstrates how nature-based solutions can provide the means to address the world’s water challenges.

According to the World Water Development Report, the global demand for water has been increasing at a rate of about 1% per annum due to population growth, economic development and changing consumption patterns, among other factors.

The UN report has identified the industrial and domestic sectors’ demand for water to increase much faster than agricultural demand – although agriculture will remain the largest user overall.

The vast majority of the growth in demand for water will occur in countries with developing or emerging economies, states the report.

World Water Development Report motivates for NBS

The report’s objective is to inform policy and decision-makers about the potential of nature-based solutions (NBS) to address water management challenges across all sectors.

This is particularly in regard to water for agriculture, sustainable cities, disaster risk reduction and water quality.

Currently, water management remains heavily dominated by traditional (grey) man-made infrastructure and the enormous potential for NBS remains under‐utilised.

NBS include green infrastructure that can substitute, augment or work in parallel with grey infrastructure in a cost‐effective manner. The goal is to find the most appropriate blend of green (natural) and grey (man-made) investments to maximise benefits and system efficiency while minimising costs and trade‐offs.

Examples of NBS are processes to enhance water availability such as soil moisture retention and groundwater recharge; the improvement of water quality through natural wetlands, riparian buffer strips; and the reduction of risks associated with water-related disasters and climate change including flood plain restoration and green roofs. AUDIO: Water Webinar ON DEMAND | Living with #DayZero

Where to find the report

The UN report is an annual and thematic report that focuses on different strategic water issues each year, and includes regional aspects, hotspots, examples and stories, making the report relevant to a broad range of readers, at different levels and in different geographical areas.

The 2018 edition highlights that the global water cycle is intensifying due to climate change, with wetter regions generally becoming wetter and drier regions becoming even drier. Other global changes, including urbanisation, de‐forestation, and intensification of agriculture, are adding to these challenges. Read the report: United Nations World Water Development Report 2018 

The development of the report, coordinated by the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP), is a joint effort of the UN agencies and entities which make up UN-Water, working in partnership with governments, international organisations, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders.


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