Wetlands as Nature-based Solutions to water security and preventing disputes

As World Water Day approaches on 22 March 2024, the global community once again turns its attention to the indispensable role of water in fostering peace and prosperity worldwide. This year’s theme, “Water for Peace,” underscores the urgent need to address water-related challenges as a means to promote stability and cooperation among nations.



Water scarcity, pollution, and unequal access to water resources have long been catalysts for tensions and conflicts between communities and nations. With over 3 billion people relying on water systems that traverses national boundaries, effective management and equitable distribution of this vital resource are paramount to fostering cooperation and preventing disputes. Regrettably, out of 153 countries sharing rivers, lakes, and aquifers with neighbouring states, only 24 report having comprehensive cooperation agreements for managing shared water bodies.


© Image by Ursula/Pixabay


As the impacts of climate change increase and the global population continues to grow, the need to protect and conserve water resources becomes more urgent. By prioritising and undertaking collective efforts to uphold the human right to water and sanitation, water can be a unifying force that drives sustainable development and promotes peaceful coexistence.


A Dried out lake. Image by © Thorsten Frenzel / Pixabay


Central to these efforts is the often overlooked but invaluable role of wetlands in protecting freshwater resources and improving water quality. Wetlands are natural sponges that absorb water and store it during droughts. Due to their rich vegetation, wetlands also act as natural filtration systems, purifying the water of pollutants and ensuring it is suitable for human consumption and agricultural use. In addition, wetlands replenish groundwater supplies and regulate water flows, contributing to the aquatic ecosystems’ overall health and stability.


A wetland. © A.Satta


When wetlands are protected and effectively managed, they can effectively solve water problems and provide numerous benefits extending far beyond their surroundings. Their ability to mitigate floods, droughts and erosion helps protect communities from the devastating consequences of extreme weather events, thereby increasing resilience and reducing vulnerability.

Crucially, wetland protection and restoration provide a pathway to water security and peace worldwide. By recognizing the intrinsic value of these ecosystems and integrating them into water management strategies, countries can foster cooperation, promote sustainable development and resolve conflicts over shared water resources.