By Katharine Cross of IUCN’s Eastern and Southern Africa Office

This is my second World Water Forum. In Istanbul, three years ago I was running around, organizing sessions, looking after speakers and preparing presentations. This time, coming from IUCN’s Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office, I can take things at a slightly different pace. I’m bringing the regional perspective into discussions on various subjects from implementing Integrated Water Resources Management in practice to climate resilience. This has given me the time to step back and look at what the forum is achieving, and where we go next. Sometimes the feeling is that the Forum is just a talk shop, but what an event like this brings is the nudge factor – ideas are exchanged, alliances formed, problems discussed and solutions showcased.

These experiences and ideas are taken back to our respective corners of the globe and integrated into our work on the ground. Different approaches can then be showcased at follow-up events to continue this valuable knowledge exchange. For example, in many of the sessions I have participated in there is recognition of the need to invest in natural infrastructure as a solution to addressing changing water availability from climate and other factors. IUCN is demonstrating this concept on the ground by integrating natural solutions to increase resilience through actions such as catchment protection, reforestation, and strengthening institutions so they can protect water sources and allocate water fairly to the different users, including the environment.

We can’t change the world overnight, but by continuing to present nature’s solution, we can nudge the world towards a future that ensures healthy people and healthy ecosystems.

Read more about Katharine’s work on conserving water resources in Africa.