Experts at a webinar have stressed the need for nature-based solution to address water challenges in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) River Basin.
They said nature-based solution can help address water management challenges in the GBM river basin.
IUCN hosted the webinar on 'Nature-based Solutions and its application in the river basin management' yesterday, an IUCN press release said on Thursday, reports BSS.
More than 90 participants from the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), academic institutions and young water professionals from across the world participated in the webinar.
Nature-based Solutions (or NbS) is defined as actions that protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural and modified ecosystems to address societal challenges, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits.
Raphael Glemet, Senior Programme Officer, Water and Wetlands of IUCN Asia, presented the IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions, launched on 23 July 2020.
He said the Nature-based Solution can help address water management challenges in the GBM Basin and it is the foundation for archiving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Gitika Goswami, Senior Programme Director, Policy Research from Development Alternatives, Delhi, shared the case of participatory watershed management in ensuring improved water availability for agriculture in the arid regions in the Betwa River basin in India.
"Working closely with the local communities and forest departments, micro-watersheds were mapped and restored resulting in the enhancement of agro-biodiversity and year-round water availability for farming.
More than 1,200 farmers were mobilized and they reported 30 percent enhancement in the average yearly income," he said.
Soumya Dutta, Co-Convener of South Asian People's Action on Climate Crisis and Trustee of MAUSAM, shared his experiences from the implementation of NbS in landslide hazard zones and river islands in the Teesta River Basin.
He emphasized sharing of technical information on specific NbS interventions with the communities in getting their long-term support and ownership.
He shared his experience on the use of Vetiver plantation, a deep rooting indigenous grass variety, for the control of river bank erosion.
Dr Mokhlesur Rahman, Executive Director of Center for NaturalResource Studies (CNRS) Bangladesh, shared the case of the Hail Haor, a huge wetland area extending over 13.000 ha, located in the north eastern Bangladesh, in the Meghna River Basin.
To address the ecological degradation in Hail Haor, and improve the livelihoods of local fishermen, CNRS initiated a number of interventions in partnership with local government.
"Institutional process was developed to ensure community engagement in the decision making process. Through the restoration of forest and wetlands, reintroduction of locally extinct fish species and creation of Wetland sanctuary local ecosystem services were restored," he said.
However, he highlighted that community based water resource management is a time consuming process and needs continued handholding, and therefore policy and local government support is critical sustainability factor.
Dr Prem Narayan Kandel, Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment, Province 2 of Janakpur, Nepal, shared his work on bioengineering in Himalayas and the mainstreaming of NbS in the government policies in Nepal.
He said bioengineering approaches are critical in reducing land slide and flood disaster risk in the Himalayas and have been included in the national and local government policies of Nepal, such as Nepal Road Safety Policy.
On the question of implementation of policy, he emphasized that both the national and local governments need include it in their annual plan, develop a programme work and ensure budget provision for its implementation.
This was the second in the Webinar Series: Strengthening Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) engagement in water governance in the GBM basin.
Speakers provided insights on how Nature-based Solutions are used in river basin management. The first webinar was focused on Nexus planning for water, food, energy, and environment security and the third webinar will focus on hydro-diplomacy as a tool for cooperative water governance happening on 5 August 2020.
The webinar series is part of the BRIDGE GBM project, facilitated by IUCN, and funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) through the Oxfam Transboundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA) programme, aims to build the water governance capacity of a network of CSOs in the GBM River Basin. Its focus is to strengthen CSO engagement in transboundary water management issues.
The Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) River Basins is prone to natural disasters, such as droughts and floods. Within first few weeks of the monsoon in 2020, hundreds have died and many more displaced due to flooding.
In Nepal, landslides have killed more than 120 people in first six months of 2020, and still counting. These challenges have put imperative for governments and other actors to implement solutions to mitigate impacts of natural disasters.
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