World Water Day 2018: The Answer Is In NatureMar 22, 2018
Celebrations for this year’s World Water Day included a virtual tour of the beautiful scenery of Galicica, apple-tasting, a pop quiz about Prespa, and a screening of the award-winning documentary Lake of Apples.
More than 100 people attended a novel ‘tweet-up’ event in Skopje to raise public awareness about the importance of water and the value of adopting nature-based solutions to solve the challenges surrounding water.
The global theme of this year’s World Water Day, ‘Nature for Water’, focused on exploring ways of working with nature to overcome the water challenges of the 21st century.
Organized by the United Nations Development Programme with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands, the event titled “#ILovePrespa” screened the award-winning “Lake of Apples” documentary to showcase successful examples of nature-based solutions that can be replicated country-wide.
The Lake Prespa Restoration Programme has achieved remarkable results since it began in 2002:
• over 80% of local farmers have adopted agro-ecological practices;
• the use of water for irrigation has fallen by nearly 60%;
• the use of pesticides is down by 30%;
• water quality has measurably improved; and
• indigenous fish species have recovered.
The main aim of this 15-year programme funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and implemented by UNDP has been to protect biodiversity while at the same time ensuring that the region’s farmers can earn a decent living. The programme has targeted the region’s main environmental challenges: building sewage treatment and wastewater collection facilities; promoting sustainable agricultural techniques; making irrigation systems more efficient; replanting forests to combat erosion; and improving the protection of at-risk habitats.
Speaking at the event, UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton emphasised the importance of sustainable, nature-based solutions: “Prespa shows us that nature-based solutions have the potential to solve many of our water challenges. We need to apply ‘green’ infrastructure wherever possible. Planting new forests, reconnecting rivers to floodplains, and restoring wetlands all help to rebalance the water cycle and improve human health while protecting livelihoods.”
"Working with nature, rather than against it, paves the way towards a more resource efficient, competitive and greener economy. By improving the environment while benefiting local economic development, the Swiss-supported project in Prespa is a showcase for the effectiveness of nature-based solutions. We look forward to extending the application of this innovative approach in the framework of our new project to increase the resilience of the Polog region against floods," said Swiss Ambassador Sybille Suter Tejada.
Dutch Ambassador Wouter Plomp spoke at the event of the great significance of water and the need to protect this precious resource: “Water is in the Dutch DNA – it’s a key element of our history, our economy and our culture. And it has taught us a very important lesson: you have to be friends with water, and you have to take good care of it. Macedonia is lucky to have amazing lakes and rivers and I am very happy to celebrate Water Day and the efforts of all of you to protect and promote these natural treasures.”