In 2015, the global community launched the 2030 Agenda, with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that should be reached by 2030. Some progress has been made, but for most of the goals, the world is not on track to meet the deadline. Water can help us do better.
Groundwater is the regulator of the entire freshwater cycle, but its invisibility makes it difficult to manage and protect.
Many of the most pressing challenges in the world are about water: too little, too much or too inferior. Such challenges can only be effectively addressed through adequate governance of available water resources.
Water is a growing concern in many parts of the world. Countries can improve their water resilience through transboundary water cooperation over shared waters.
The climate crisis is essentially a water crisis. When we treat it as such, we get new tools to mitigate climate change and adapt to consequences that are unavoidable.
Insufficient supply and inadequate infrastructure leaves millions of people in the world without water.
How to increase the productivity of agriculture around the world through better water management.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has pushed millions of people back into poverty and exposed unacceptable gaps between the rich and the poor. One in three people are still not able to wash their hands with soap and water at home.
Will future wars be fought over water? The answer is probably no, but water scarcity can contribute to conflicts.
Indigenous peoples are the custodians of many of the world’s most fragile and important ecosystems. They also possess invaluable knowledge about sustainability and resilience, so they have a vital role in protecting our environment.
The source-to-sea approach focuses on the strong connection between what happens on land, along waterways, and in the sea.
A growing number of people, societies and companies are discovering the power of resilient landscapes. It is still possible to shift to more sustainable practices that recharge water, restore soil health, sequester carbon, and strengthen biodiversity – but we need to make the transformation now.
More than two billion people in the world lack safely managed drinking water and twice as many lack safely managed sanitation, making WASH one of the most urgent development challenges.
More and more young people offer important contributions to solving the growing water challenges they are inheriting.
Having access to water and sanitation has been recognized as a human right since 2010. But water is also essential to ensuring the fulfilment of many other rights.
Forests and trees are crucial for a healthy global water cycle and freshwater ecosystems. Though as we learn more about how climate change will affect different elements of the hydrological cycle, including water quality, it becomes apparent how forests, trees, and people will also be impacted.
As such the forest-water nexus goes far beyond the role of forests and trees in the hydrological cycle, and should be considered instead within the broader forest–water–climate–people system. From this perspective, it becomes clear that the forest-water nexus is of highest relevance to achieve all the SDGs.
Research and discussion on the forest-water nexus has increased in recent years, and there has been a marked shift towards including the human and climate dimensions of the forest-water nexus alongside the biophysical aspects. This has led to a more holistic understanding of the role that forests and trees play in addressing some of the world’s major challenges, such as food and water security, climate change, and to achieve the SDGs.
Through the ‘Forest-Water Connections to achieve the SDGs: A Call to Action’ session at the XV World Forestry Congress in South Korea, the organisers highlighted advances in research and best practice to stress this point – that the forest and water nexus must be taken into account if we are to achieve the SDGs and successfully adapt to and mitigate climate change. Various examples were highlighted during the session from different ecosystem types, locations within the landscape, and of varying management scales. These showed the need to understand the contextual nature of forest-water interactions, how they translate into services for people and planet, how they are impacted by climate change, and how management guidance needs to be flexible, as what is true for one location in the landscape or a particular ecosystem, may not be true for another.
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