This year’s edition of the annual World Water Development Report was launched by the United Nations in March 2018, it is dedicated to the topic Nature-based Solutions for Water.
Nature-based solutions can play an important role in improving the supply and quality of water and reducing the impact of natural disasters, according to the authors. The study argues that reservoirs, irrigation canals and water treatment plants are not the only water management instruments at our disposal.
The report recognizes water not as an isolated element, but as an integral part of a complex natural process involving evaporation, precipitation and the absorption of water through the soil.
The presence and extent of vegetation cover across grasslands, wetlands and forests influences the water cycle and can be the focus for actions to improve the quantity and quality of available water, while wetlands are playing a disproportionately large role. They directly impact water quality by filtering toxic substances from pesticides, industrial and mining discharges.
It is estimated that agricultural production could be increased by about 20 per cent worldwide if greener water management practices were used. One study cited by the report reviewed agricultural development projects in 57 low-income countries and found that using water more efficiently combined with reduced use of pesticides and improvements in soil cover, increased average crop yields by 79 per cent.
Nevertheless, the use of nature-based solutions remains marginal and almost all investments are still channelled to grey infrastructure projects. Yet, to satisfy the ever-growing demand for water, green infrastructure appears to be a promising solution complementing traditional approaches, say the authors.
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