Mangrove forest in Gambia. Healthy freshwater ecosystems provide a wealth of benefits to people and nature.
Photo: ©Curioso.Photography/

The Freshwater Challenge

A coalition of governments has launched a major initiative to restore degraded rivers, lakes and wetlands. They aim to tackle the world’s worsening water, climate and nature crises.

The Freshwater Challenge aims to restore 300,000 km of rivers and 350 million hectares of wetlands by 2030. This is equivalent to a river that encircles the Earth seven times and an area of wetlands larger than India. The Challenge was announced at the UN Water Conference in New York in March 2023.

Along with water supplies, healthy freshwater ecosystems provide a wealth of benefits to people and nature, and they are critical to mitigating and adapting to climate change, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The Challenge is championed by the governments of Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Gabon, Mexico and Zambia. It calls on all governments to commit to clear targets in their updated national biodiversity strategies and action plans, nationally determined contributions, and national implementation plans for the SDGs with a view to urgently restoring healthy freshwater ecosystems. 

The country-driven initiative takes an inclusive, collaborative approach to implementation. Governments and their partners will co-create freshwater solutions with indigenous people, local communities and other stakeholders. 

The Challenge builds on the Global Biodiversity Framework agreed in Montreal in December 2022, which included the restoration of 30 per cent of the world’s degraded inland waters. It will also contribute to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration – a drive to revive our planet, which is co-led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  

The focus is on providing the evidence needed at country level to effectively design and implement restoration measures, identify priority areas for restoration, update relevant national strategies and plans, and mobilise resources and set up financial mechanisms to implement the targets. 

Championed by the coalition of countries, the Freshwater Challenge is supported by the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The Nature Conservancy, Wetlands International and AB InBev. 


Read more on the UNEP website

News Comments

Add a comment


Name is required!

Enter valid name

Valid email is required!

Enter valid email address

Comment is required!

Google Captcha Is Required!

You have reached the limit for comments!

* These fields are required.

Be the First to Comment