COP23: Call for “Nature-Based Solutions” to Water Challenges

BONN, Germany

A number of representatives of the international water community co-signed a “nature based solution declaration” (full text here) on COP23’s Water Action Day, 10 November “to encourage the use of natural systems in managing healthy water supplies”.

The nature-based solutions are defined as “actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits”.

This declaration, initiated at the International Workshop "Ecological Engineering and Climate Risks" of Paris in September, had previously been presented at the International Summit of the Great Rivers of the World in Rome (23-25 October 2017).

As many as 70 signatory organizations are reported by UNFCCC to have committed in Bonn to:

· Include Nature-based Solutions in our international, regional, national, basin and local long-term strategies and policies on climate change, risk reduction, land planning, soil and water management.

· Make sure that Nature-based Solutions are providing co-benefits for human well-being and development as well as biodiversity.

· Implement tools for the development of sustainable Nature-based Solutions for water management on our territories such as capacity building, knowledge development and sharing, policy support and governance. Put in place mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the projects’ co-benefits and effectiveness. Ensure population and social acceptability, notably by the reinforcement of the involvement and the enhancement of the know-how of the local communities.

· Facilitate adequate public and private financing for Nature-based Solutions for water management.

· Combine Nature-based Solutions to civil engineering where necessary, depending on the local specificities, in order to provide the best protection for biodiversity and water resources and the highest community benefits.

· Raise awareness on the necessity to operationalize research works on nature-based approaches by promoting Nature-based Solutions for water management and this declaration towards our peers.

· Reinforce exchanges and experience sharing on this topic, especially through the existing Alliances on water and climate in the framework of the Marrakesh Partnership for Global Climate Action and through the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Water challenges were recognized by the UNFCCC event as a core thematic area by the annual conference along with Energy, Agriculture, Oceans & Coastal Zones, Human Settlements, Transport, Industry and Forests.

At COP22 in Marrackesh, Morocco the findings of the Water Action Day were subsequently presented to the event’s closing plenary, with three specific recommendations:

· Harmonizing water and climate policies, launching a Water Action Plan for Climate Resilience and implementing the five fingers alliance concept, an interdisciplinary approach that encompasses collaborative solutions in the domains of water, food, energy, health and education

· Extending water access and sanitation services in Africa

· Reinforcing resilient water governance and promoting participatory, inclusive, integrated, and ecological water resources management

An update to the Blue Book on Water and Climate, which was produced by the Moroccan Government as an outcome to a Water and Climate conference held in July 2016 before COP22 in Marrakesh, has been expected to be released during proceedings in Bonn.