IUCN China launches "Mega-Cities and Watersheds" project to promote Nature-based Solutions to deal with water crisis

26 November 2013 | Event

November 26, 2013, Beijing, China: IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, today launched its new project “Mega-cities and their Watersheds: Nature-based Solutions for Sustainable Drinking Water Sources”. The project has been developed in response to increasing problems related to urban water supply in China's rapidly growing urban centers. The launch event in Beijing was attended by more than 60 representatives of relevant government departments, research institutes local and international NGOs. “We have to consider not just the protection of water, but entire watersheds,” said Zhu Chunquan, the Country Representative of IUCN China. "By using natural infrastructure to deal with the water crisis, the project will seek to demonstrate ecological rehabilitation and protection of watersheds to ensure sustainable supplies of drinking water in China's cities." With the rapid development of economy and society, population growth and increasing urbanization, there is more and more pressure on urban water supplies. At the same time, the ecological integrity of sources of safe drinking water continues to be threatened. More than 400 of China’s 660 cities now suffer from permanent water shortages. In Beijing, for example, the Miyun reservoir in the northeast of Beijing supplies 40% of drinking water for the city’s 20 million residents and covers an area of almost 16,000 km2. However, in recent years the reservoir has been threatened by ecosystem degradation and pollution caused by use of chemicals in agriculture and community waste. The volume and quality of Miyun’s water continues to decline, and Beijing now faces a serious water crisis. IUCN’s approach is to implement specific nature-based ecological restoration and non-pollution control measures in priority sub-basins in pilot watersheds, and undertake watershed health assessment and monitoring activities. Over the next few years, IUCN and its partners will analyze 30-50 Chinese mega-cities and their drinking water sources and watersheds. It will also implement pilot projects in the Miyun and Jiaquan watersheds, conducting analysis of ecosystem functions and services, especially for water supply and purification, and developing strategies to guide landscape restoration. The organization will also l undertake watershed health assessment and monitoring, and work with communities to reduce their impacts on the environment. Finally, the project will explore long-term watershed management and financing mechanisms, including integrated watershed management, ecological compensation and payment for ecosystem services. , The lessons learned from the pilot projects in Miyun and Jiaquan project will shared with other mega-cities in China through “The Mega-city and Watershed Partnership (MWP)”. The project is being implemented with the support of China EU environmental sustainable project and in partnership with Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, Global Water Partnership China, Beijing Forestry Society, Guangdong Academy of Forestry, Center for Rural Drinking Water Safety and Ministry of Water Resources.