One of the key goals of sustainable development is to protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of natural ecosystems. Growing population and the resulting demand for clean water are the reason why conflicts, droughts and floods, crop failures, economic decline and a number of other problems occur. According to the UN estimates, consumer demand for water resources will grow annually for 1%, thus aggravating social, economic and environmental problems. In addition to water scarcity, we are now facing a tendency of water quality decline due to its widespread contamination by chemical and biological pollutants. Increasing man-made impact leads to degraded water ecosystems, desertification, increased risk of natural disasters, and reduced forest and wetland areas. Sustainability of natural ecosystems serves as a basis of key processes in the water cycle: evaporation, formation of precipitation and surface flow, accumulation of ground water, and so forth. Up-to-date natural solutions being an effective tool of water resources management are aimed primarily at ecosystem preservation and restoration.
With the aim to discuss water resources matters and draw general attention to the use of natural solutions, the Central Asian Regional Water Network CAR@WAN together with the UNESCO cluster office presented the annual United Nations World Water Development Report dealing with natural solutions to water resources management problems. The presentation was made on the occasion of World Water Day on April 10, 2018 in Almaty (Kazakhstan).
The event was attended by 92 participants. Among those present, there were representatives of national and international organizations, educational and research centres, non-governmental organizations, as well as independent experts and mass media.
Specialists in the field of water resources as well as young people and active citizens showed great interest in the presentation of the United Nations World Water Development Report 2018. The event was also attended by Almaty universities’ students, which indicates an increase in awareness of the current problems of water resources and the desire to address them.
Within the framework of the event, reports were made by representatives of the UNESCO office, the UN Subregional Office for Central Asia, the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, Geography Institute, and Lomonosov Moscow State University. Participants also watched a UN-Water video prepared on the occasion of World Water Day.
Participants of the event acknowledged how important such events are for raising awareness and drawing attention to water issues, especially in the Central Asian region. Most of the existing water resources management tools are outdated and have lost their relevance. It is necessary to search for and generally introduce more modern methods of managing and solving water resources problems. Sadly enough, current practice when humans interfere with natural processes and ecosystem functioning leads to destructive consequences. Most effective and practical water management instruments are those which copy or apply natural processes.
In the course of the discussion, the participants developed a number of recommendations aimed at improving the water resources management system. All comments and opinions were set forward in a detailed report of proceedings to be communicated to all stakeholders.