UN-Water World Water Development Report (WWDR 2018), titled Nature-based solutions for water, 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 water quality.


It recognizes water not as an isolated element, but as an integral part of a complex natural process that involves evaporation, precipitation and the absorption of water through the soil.


The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines NbS as “actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, thereby providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits”.


Nature based solutions (NbS):


  • Nature-based solutions are closely aligned with traditional and local knowledge including those held by indigenous and tribal peoples in the context of water variability and change.
  • Constructed wetlands for wastewater treatment can also be a cost-effective, nature-based solution that provides effluent of adequate quality for several non-potable uses (irrigation) and additional benefits that include energy production.
  • Watershed management is another nature-based solution that is seen not only as a complement to built infrastructure but also one that could also spur local economic development, job creation, biodiversity protection and climate resilience.
  • NBS that involve eco-sanitation approaches, such as dry toilets, also offer promise to practically eliminate water use requirements in many situations.
  • NBS central to sustaining livelihoods in dryland areas and combating desertification through rehabilitating land productivity.


These solutions should be part of a global, participative and integrated approach of water management; especially, in the context of climate change. They can be combined to institutional and technical solutions, to respond to the specific needs and constraints of various ecosystems. Adopting them will not only improve water management but also achieve water security.


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