Thursday, 22 March 2018

World Water Day 2018

From the 18th to the 23rd of March, the 8th World Water Forum is taking place in Brazil. World Water Day falls on the 22nd of March and, this year it is the 25th year of it being held and will be enthusiastically celebrated at the forum. World Water Day is coordinated by UN-Water (the UN’s inter-agency collaboration mechanism for all freshwater related issues) in collaboration with governments and partners. It places an important spotlight on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

History of World Water Day
This day was first proposed at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. The United Nations General Assembly responded by designating 22 March 1993 as the first World Water Day.

Why is there a World Water Day?
Because World Water Day is an international observance, it provides an opportunity to learn more about water related issues, be inspired to tell others and take action to make a difference. The engagement campaign is coordinated by one or several of the UN-Water Members with a related mandate.

Water challenges
Source: Unknown
Damaged ecosystems affect the quantity and quality of water available for human consumption. Today, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home; affecting their health, education and livelihoods. There are many local, national, and global water challenges facing our planet. Water demand will increase 55% by 2050 as a result of population growth, economic development and changing consumption patterns as well as growing demand from manufacturing, thermal electricity generation and domestic use. It will continue to grow significantly over the foreseeable future. Environmental damage, coupled with climate change, is driving the water-related crises we observe around the world. The global water cycle is intensifying due to climate change, with wetter regions generally becoming wetter and drier regions becoming even drier. Urbanisation, deforestation, intensification of agriculture add to these challenges. Degraded vegetation, soil, rivers and lakes worsen floods, drought and water pollution. If we neglect the ecosystems, it is harder to provide everyone with the water we need to survive and thrive. Industrial and domestic demand for water will increase much faster than agricultural demand, although agriculture will remain the largest user overall.

2018’s theme
Each year, UN-Water (the entity that coordinates the UN’s work on water and sanitation) sets a theme for World Water Day corresponding to a current or future challenge. 2018’s theme is “Nature for water”. The theme explores how we can use nature to overcome the different water challenges currently facing our planet.

Nature-based solutions
Nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of our water challenges. More has to be done with ‘green’ infrastructure and harmonize it with ‘grey’ infrastructure. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands will rebalance the water cycle and, subsequently, improve human health and livelihoods.

NBS use or mimic natural processes to enhance water availability (e.g., soil moisture retention, groundwater recharge), improve water quality (e.g., natural and constructed wetlands, riparian buffer strips), and reduce risks associated with waterrelated disasters and climate change (e.g., floodplain restoration, green roofs).

Currently, water management remains heavily dominated by traditional, humanbuilt (i.e. ‘grey’) infrastructure and the enormous potential for NBS remains underutilized. NBS include green infrastructure that can substitute, augment, or work in parallel with grey infrastructure in a costeffective manner. The goal is to find the most appropriate blend of green and grey investments to maximize benefits and system efficiency while minimizing costs and tradeoffs.

Importance of Sustainable Development Goal 6
This goal, mainly to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030, includes a target to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase water recycling and safe reuse. Thus, it includes targets on protecting the natural environment and reducing pollution.

The Water Crisis and the OECD Water Governance Principles
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and UN have emphasized the need for dialogue and action on water governance — to focus on changing water behaviours and decisions. Managing and securing access to water for all is not only a question of money, but equally a matter of good governance. The 12 OECD Water Governance Principles provide guidance for governments to design and implement effective, efficient, and inclusive water policies. To date, they have been endorsed by 170+ stakeholder groups or governments.  

World Water Development Report 2018
The World Water Development Report (WWDR 2018) Report was launched at the 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia, Brazil, on March 19 and in conjunction with World Water Day. The report demonstrates how naturebased solutions (NBS) offer a vital means of moving beyond businessasusual to address many of the world’s water challenges while simultaneously delivering additional benefits vital to all aspects of sustainable development. Solutions inspired and supported by nature (“nature-based solutions”) use, or mimic, natural processes to address contemporary water management challenges, improve water security and deliver co-benefits vital to all aspects of sustainable development. The 2018 edition of the World Water Development Report (WWDR 2018) seeks to inform policy and decision-makers, inside and outside the water community, about the potential of nature-based solutions (NBS) to address contemporary water management challenges across all sectors, and particularly regarding water for agriculture, sustainable cities, disaster risk reduction and improving water quality.

The World Water Development Report can be downloaded here:

Here are two videos with regards to World Water Day:

We often take water for granted. Thus, we must always remember that every day should be World Water Day.


Wednesday, 21 March 2018

International Day of Forests 2018


Forests cover one third of the Earth's land mass, performing vital functions around the world. Around 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods, medicines, fuel, food and shelter. Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land. They are also home to more than 80% of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Even though they provide a myriad of priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarmingly fast rate - 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually. Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Today International Day of Forests is celebrated all over the world. It is an annual occurrence and a particularly important environmental day. It not only helps to raise awareness of the importance of forests to people, but also their vital role in poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and food security. Sustainable management of all types of forests are at the heart of unlocking challenges of conflict-affected, developing and developed countries, for the benefit of current and future generations.

2018 Theme: Forests and Sustainable Cities
This year the UN has provided the platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of woodlands and trees, and celebrate the ways in which they sustain and protect us.

Key Messages that they want to convey are:
·         Forests and trees store carbon, which helps mitigate the impacts of climate change in and around urban areas.
·         Trees also improve the local climate, helping to save energy used for heating by 20-50 percent.
·         Strategic placement of trees in urban areas can cool the air by up to 8 degrees Celsius, reducing air conditioning needs by 30 percent.
·         Urban trees are excellent air filters, removing harmful pollutants in the air and fine particulates.
·         Trees reduce noise pollution, as they shield homes from nearby roads and industrial areas.
·         Local populations use the fruits, nuts, leaves and insects found in urban trees to produce food and medicines for use in the home, or as a source of income.
·         Wood fuel sourced from urban trees and planted forests on the outskirts of cities provides renewable energy for cooking and heating, which reduces pressures on natural forests and our reliance on fossil fuels.
·         Forests in and around urban areas help to filter and regulate water, contributing to high-quality freshwater supplies for hundreds of millions of people. Forests also protect watersheds and prevent flooding as they store water in their branches and soil.
·         Well-managed forests and trees in and around cities provide habitats, food and protection for many plants and animals, helping to maintain and increase biodiversity.
·         Forests in cities and surrounding areas generate tourism, create tens of thousands of jobs and encourage city beautification schemes, building dynamic, energetic and prosperous green economies.
·         Urban green spaces, including forests, encourage active and healthy lifestyles, improve mental health, prevent disease, and provide a place for people to socialize.

How you can partake in the day:
·         Watch and share the International Day of Forests video 2018 (please see video below).
·         Take part in the International Day of Forests 2018 photo contest by sharing a photo of that special tree or that special forest in your city.
·         Organize or join events celebrating forests – tree plantings, symposiums, art exhibitions, or a photo competition.
·         Use the #IntlForestDay hashtag on social media.

Read the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations’ report on the state of the world’s forests here:

Why do you think forests matter? Follow the link to find why forests are important:

How much do you really know about forests and cities? Follow the link to the FAO’s quiz to find out:


8th World Water Forum - March 18 to 23, 2018

From the 18th to the 23rd of March, the 8th World Water Forum will be taking place in Brazil, the country with the freshest water in the world. The World Water Council organizes the Forum every three years together with the respective host country and city. In 2014, Brazil’s candidature to host the event was successful and Brasilia was selected as the host-city for the event. It is the first time the event is held in the Southern Hemisphere. It is the world’s largest water-related conference. The World Water Council is an international organization that brings together all those interested in the theme of water. More than 40,000 representatives from governments, NGOs, and companies will be present. The World Water Council’s mission is “to promote awareness, build political commitment, and trigger action on critical water issues at all levels, to facilitate the efficient conservation, protection, development, planning, management, and use of water in all its dimensions on an environmentally sustainable basis for the benefit of all life on Earth”. It was founded in 1996. It is a platform to encourage debates and exchanges of experience and to reach a common strategic vision on water resources and water services management amongst all stakeholders in the water community. This year, the United Nations will launch the new International Decade for Action on Water (2018-2028) and release its annual World Water Report. The emphasis at these forums is "on the need for innovation and investment in the water sector, water science, water technology and water infrastructure, services required to meet our water challenges and cope with crises like drought, flooding, and pollution".


Saturday, 3 March 2018

World Wildlife Day 2018

Today is an important day on the annual environmental calendar: World Wildlife Day. This day is a prominent global wildlife event. On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 3 March, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants.

This year’s theme (“Big cats: predators under threat”) involves precious big cats (they not only include lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars (the four largest wild cats that can roar), but also cheetahs, snow leopards, pumas, clouded leopards, etc.), placing the spotlight on their protection. Lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars are majestic animals, symbolizing power and courage. These cats are widely recognizable, admirable, and charismatic. Big cat species are primarily found in Africa, Asia, and North, Central and South America. Sadly, though, they face various and unprecedented threats (primarily caused by human activities) to their survival in the wild, and globally too. Their populations are rapidly declining due to loss of habitat and prey, conflicts with people, poaching, and illegal trade.

According to CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), “tiger populations plummeted by 95% over the past 100 years and African lion populations dropped by 40% in just 20 years”.

According to the CITES Secretary-General, John E. Scanlon, “over the past century we have been losing big cats, the planet’s most majestic predators, at an alarming rate. World Wildlife Day 2018 gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about their plight and to galvanize support for the many global and national actions that are underway to save these iconic species. Through World Wildlife Day big cats will generate the level of attention they all deserve to be sure they are with us for generations to come”.

Follow the link for facts and statistics about cheetahs, jaguars, pumas, leopards, lions, snow leopards, and tigers:

Show your support for this incredibly important day by hosting your own event with a big cats theme. It will be a roaring (pun intended) success!