Launch of the World Water Development Report 2018: Nature-based solutions for Water


The World Water Development Report 2018, titled ‘Nature-based solutions for water’, was launched on 19 March during the 8th World Water Forum, in Brasilia, Brazil.
The 2018 edition of the Report,  demonstrates how nature‐based solutions (NBS) offer a vital means of moving beyond business‐as‐usual to address many of the world’s water challenges while simultaneously delivering additional benefits vital to all aspects of sustainable development.

Joakim Harlin, Vice Chair of UN-Water, Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment and Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO, opened the session with the welcome remarks.

 “We need new solutions in managing water resources so as to meet emerging challenges to water security caused by population growth and climate change. If we do nothing, some five billion people will be living in areas with poor access to water by 2050. This Report proposes solutions that are based on nature to manage water better. This is a major task all of us need to accomplish together, responsibly so as to avoid water related conflicts,” declared the Director-General of UNESCO, in her speech.

The technical presentation by Stefan Uhlenbrook, Coordinator of the World Water Assessment Programme, provided the core of the session through his dissemination of the main findings and recommendations of the World Water Development Report 2018. He drew attention to the ways that adopting nature-based solutions or approaches that mimic or preserve ecosystem processes and functions, can contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To promote uptake of nature-based solutions, Uhlenbrook explained measures for leveraging financing, including through full assessments of the co-benefits of nature-based solutions to biodiversity, the environment, and human health; creating an enabling regulatory and legal environment; improving cross-sectoral collaboration; and improving the knowledge base. He argued that existing grey infrastructure can be best complemented by “green” infrastructure for water recycling, groundwater recharge, and flood protection, but that there is currently a lack of guidance as to how grey and green infrastructure approaches can be integrated.


The event concluded with a panel discussion on “Learning from and working with nature: achieving water security through ecosystem-based solutions”.

The pannelists, Claudia Sadoff, Director General of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Grethel Aquilar of the International Union  for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Gustavo Fonseca of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Taikan Oki, Senior Vice-Rector of the United Nations University (UNU) were moderated by Andrew Hudson, Head of the Water and Ocean Governance Programme of UNDP.

In parallel to the main launch event, many UNESCO Field Offices as well as international partners and organizations, coordinated a large number of regional launching events across the world, to present the Report in different regions of the world.

Map of WWDR 2018 regional launches

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