World Water Day 2018: The answer is in nature

Over the next few decades, water stress will likely increase rapidly across the globe. By 2050, the world’s population will have grown by an estimated 2 billion people and global water demand could be up to 30% higher than today.



World Water Day, on 22 March every year, is about focusing attention on the importance of water.

This year’s theme will be “Nature for Water” , exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century. Nature-based solutions (NBS) have the potential to solve many of our water challenges.




How can we reduce floods, droughts and water pollution? By using the solutions we already find in nature.

The campaign is called ‘The answer is in nature’ and raises awareness of Nature-based solutions. The central message is that NBS, such as planting trees to replenish forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands,  are a sustainable and cost-effective way to help rebalance the water cycle, mitigate the effects of climate change, and improve human health and livelihoods.



Wetlands reduce floods, droughts and water pollution

What’s the first thing you think about when you hear the word ‘‘wetlands’‘? 

The link between wetlands and water is vital. Most of the water we collect and use today comes from wetlands. According to the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP/WCMC), it is estimated that wetlands cover approximately 12.8 billion hectares – roughly 6% of the Earth’s land surface – of which 570 million hectares are freshwater wetlands.

Wetlands are often considered to be nature-based solutions that can provide multiple services of important social, economic and environmental value to human beings, such as flood protection, drought reduction, the maintenance of water quality, and pollution control.


The Roudassa wetland, Algeria. Photo credit: © A. T. Youcefi


Did you know that wetlands are nature’s shock absorbers and that 90% of natural hazards are water-related?

During high runoff and flooding, wetlands, in particular floodplains, slow the flow of water thanks to their vegetation. They have often been referred to as natural sponges that temporarily store part of flood waters in the soil or on the surface. In dry seasons, these “water reservoirs” help replenish groundwater aquifers, delaying the onset of drought and reducing water shortages.

One of the most important services that wetlands provide is their capacity to maintain and improve water quality. When healthy, these “natural sewage systems” filter sediment, nutrients and pollutants from water thanks to their soils and vegetation.

Read more about wetlands services here.


Natural floodplains at Lonjsko Polje Nature Park. Photo: Goran Šafarek


Today, there is an urgent need to focus on wetlands as natural solutions to the global water crisis. They can offer cost-effective solutions over the long term for water provision and water-related disasters. We need to conserve and restore these natural infrastructures if we want to ensure a safe future and sustainable livelihoods for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people, as well as for the whole of humanity.

During its first five years (2016–2020), the MedWet Framework for Action will focus primarily on six areas, including the integration of wetlands in basin-wide integrated water resources management.



More information

Website of World Water Day

Download the ressources of World Water Day

Upload your event on the occasion of World Water Day on the link below:

Watch the MedWet Cartoon: Wetlands Provide Priceless Services.

MWO 2012_Technical report: Mediterranean Wetlands Outlook 2012