Barcelona 22 March 2018-- This year’s theme, Nature for Water’, explores nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.

Environmental damage, together with climate change, is driving the water-related crises we see around the world. Floods, drought and water pollution are all made worse by degraded vegetation, soil, rivers and lakes. When we neglect our ecosystems, we make it harder to provide everyone with the water we need to survive and thrive and meet the targets of SDG 6.

Commenting on the recent drought that made global headlines, Alderman Ian Neilson, Executive Deputy Mayor of Cape Town stated, “We have all had to redefine our relationship with water. We need to accept that the plentiful days of water supply in Cape Town may very well be over. We are not alone in this.” (full interview)

Like Cape Town, many cities are facing the pressures of rapid urbanization, water-related crisis and climate change however nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of our water challenges. We need to do so much more with ‘green’ infrastructure and harmonize it with ‘grey’ infrastructure wherever possible. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands will rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods.

Through the Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA), UN-Habitat supports public water utilities and helps them to tap into the enormous potential within the global community to share capacity for the benefit of all. In the past decade, over 100 Water Operators’ Partnerships have helped utilities increase their water efficiency, safely manage wastewater and fortify disaster management procedures.

This year, UN-Habitat is celebrating World Water Day with the water community at the 8th World Water Forum.