ISLAMABAD: To celebrate World Water Day (WWD) 2018, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) joined hands with Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), the Eco Science Foundation (ECOSF), Centre for Community & Rural Development and Riphah International University to commemorate the day, the theme of which for this year was Nature for Water. Each year, WWD brings attention to and highlights a specific aspect of water. This year’s theme of Nature for Water provides an important opportunity of exploring nature-based solutions for various water challenges including floods and droughts.A poster competition among university students was also organised. The event was held in PCRWR premises and was well attended by representatives of various institutions and university students. Speaking on the occasion, the chief guest and UNESCO Director Vibeke Jensen described a brief picture of the global water crisis. She remarked that a resolution of the issues faced by the world lies in the preservation of nature which is degraded by enhanced anthropogenic activities.She further elaborated that she was well aware of the government’s efforts on getting the national water policy approved and research and development efforts related with the theme of the year’s WWD. “Water issues and crisis have multiple impacts,” said National Disaster Management Authority Chairman Lieutenant General Omar Mahmood Hayat said. “Under the changing climate, water related disasters are becoming very common affecting every aspect of life.”IUCN Pakistan Country Representative Mahmood Akhtar Cheema traced the declining per capita water availability figures in Pakistan since independence and stated that the declining water quality was a direct result of damage to the ecosystems health. “IUCN Pakistan believes that the solution lies in green infrastructure,” he said. He remarked that ecosystems were transboundary in nature and had a major impact on the occurrence and status of water resources.“It is in this sense that IUCN is actively engaged in concerted efforts on protecting degraded ecosystems with reforestation activities,” he added. Quoting some examples of such efforts, he particularly mentioned the Herculean efforts of IUCN in restoring the coastal ecosystem by planting millions of mangroves with the collaboration of Pakistan Navy and involving local communities, who were the major beneficiaries of the activities. “The efforts are still on-going with more commitments from the Pakistan Navy who have pledged over a million mangrove plants for greening the ecosystem,” ICARDA Country Director Dr Abdul Majid remarked that the importance of water lied in how we use water resources.In order to save nature, water must be conserved in all consumer sectors. A healthy eco-system ensures protected and well managed water resources.Earlier, PCRWR Chairman Dr Muhammad Ashraf, in his welcome speech remarked that nature itself possessed a balance of resources and any imbalance may cause shortage of these resources; the current water crisis is the most critical example.A panel discussion was also held encircling the preservation of “eco-system and water resources”.Federal Flood Commission Chairman Ahmad Kamal, ICIMOD Country Representative Dr Abdul Wahid Jasra, Riphah International University Chancellor Hassan Muhammad Khan and a representative of ECOSF shared their expert opinions around the theme of WWD 2018.Towards the end, awards were distributed to the first three positions among the students who participated in the competition.Published in Daily Times, March 22nd 2018.