World Water Day: the answer is in the nature

World Water Day: the answer is in the nature

March 20, 2018

World Water Day: the answer is in the nature

March 22, a day dedicated to water, will be an opportunity to cast the limelight on sustainable solutions based on nature and landscape to achieve the goal of safeguarding the precious blue gold.

If all the water in the world were 1 liter, the quantity actually available to us would be half a coffee spoonful. This statement emphasizes how valuable water is, albeit in a world which boasts approximately 1.4 billion km3 of it. Every day, the mass media disseminate news of floods, drought or environmental and social disasters linked to water and poor management of it, describing a scenario in which a question naturally springs to mind: how can we reduce these extreme events linked to water and the pollution of the already scarce water resources available? According to the promoters of World Water Day 2018, the answer is in the nature. By exploring the potential of nature and implementing solutions based specifically on nature, according to experts, it would be possible to take effective action to solve some of the water challenges of this millennium, while fully observing sustainability, towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations for 2030. 

It is already in short supply for many

What clearly emerges from the many studies on the topic, is that the planet is already suffering from thirst or it is nonetheless in great difficulty due to excess water or a shortage of it. Over 2 billion people have no access to drinking water services, and by 2050 the global demand for water could be 30% higher than it is today. What's more, 1.9 billion people live in areas potentially at risk of water shortages, a figure which could climb to 3 billion by 2050. Man and his activities are among the principal causes, both direct and indirect, for this rather dire situation: just think that between 1900 and the present day, 64-71% of marshland has been reclaimed due specifically to human activity. We mustn't also forget about climate change, which contributes to the desertification of many areas and extreme atmospheric events, which devastate others. 


Sustainable conduct 

Almost all of the water footprint is used for farming and food production. The good news is that this measurement, which represents an indicator of fresh water consumption, can be modified by acting at multiple levels, including at individual citizen level: by implementing sustainable diets and conduct, we can in fact reduce our impact on water consumption

The quantity of water required to produce the food we put on our tables is sometimes much larger than we might think. 2,312 liters of water are required to put a portion of meat on our plate, and 477 liters are used to produce a 150-gram portion of cheese, 130 liters for a 100-gram sandwich and 50 liters for one tomato. These figures translate into a saving of 2,000 liters a day per person if we choose a vegetable-based diet: a Mediterranean menu "costs" 2,800 liters of water, while a Western diet costs a whopping 4,700 liters. 

Yet to safeguard water, we need to put in place good practices also at national level, like Ethiopia, Australia and Colombia are doing, ranked at the top for their outstanding water management, according to the Food Sustainability Index, created by BCFN in partnership with the Economist's Intelligence Unit.

And help from nature

As illustrated on the pages of the official website of World Water Day, pursuing the most suitable solution for each situation in nature is not an Utopian dream, but in many cases it is already a reality, and it also constitutes a sustainable strategy which, at the end of the day, is also cost-effective, to restore a lost balance to the water cycle, to mitigate the effects of climate change and improve human health. There is no shortage of ideas. Swampy soil and marshland can be used as natural water reserves, conservation agriculture can help reduce water pollution derived from cultivating soil and a large contribution stems from the “green infrastructure” in other words natural or semi-natural systems capable of leading to benefits similar to if not better than those of man-built “gray infrastructure”. This will be one of the topics up for discussion during World Water Day taking place concurrently with another major event for the water sector, the World Water Forum scheduled to take place from March 18 to 23 in Brasilia. 

Labirinto d’Acque (Water Labyrinth)

BCFN will also be taking part in the initiatives organized in Italy to celebrate the day with a conference by Marta Antonelli, Head of the Research Program at BCFN, scheduled to take place as part of the Labirinto d’Acque project, headed by the editor, Franco Maria Ricci together with the University of Parma and Luca Mercalli, Chairman of the Italian Meteorological Society. Over 60 speakers will take turns, from March 21 until 24, speaking at conferences, seminars and workshops on water and environmental sustainability in the Labirinto di Fontanellato, the biggest maze in the world, which was created by Franco Maria Ricci in 1977. “Water is a primary asset and it is the basis of life. This resource today is at risk, owing to the multiple pressures from various sectors, from poor management and from the impact of climate change. We use much more water than we see. Every day, we each need several thousands of liters of water to eat” explains Marta Antonelli. “This is why it is important to bring to the light how, with our diet, we could contribute towards reducing the human water footprint and contribute towards a more sustainable use of water resources”.


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