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World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is about focusing attention on the importance of water. This year’s theme – Nature for Water – explores how we can use nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century.

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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.

Nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of our water challenges. We need to do so much more with ‘green’ infrastructure1 and harmonize it with ‘grey’ infrastructure2 wherever possible. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands will rebalance the water cycle and improve human health and livelihoods.

1 Green infrastructure is the emerging trend for systems such as Bio-filtration, ponds, wetlands, rain gardens and other natural land and plant based ecological treatment systems and processes.

2 Grey Infrastructure: conventional piped drainage and water treatment systems (ie. pipes, tanks, conventional treatment systems including energy-intensive water treatment systems and processes such as membranes and reverse osmosis)