WWF hosts special session at World Water Congress in Beijing

Posted on 15 September 2023

High level session on water stewardship showcased innovative tools and solutions
WWF hosted a special session at the 18th World Water Congress in Bejijng, which focused on the available tools and multi-stakeholder practices for water stewardship in the context of climate change. Experts from various perspectives presented and discussed the concepts, tools, and practices of water stewardship. The aim was to enlighten stakeholders and foster collective actions to create a better and climate-resilient future for nature.
The world is facing a water crisis. Statistics reveal that billions of people around the world are continuing to suffer from poor access to water, sanitation, and hygiene. Extreme floods and droughts occurring worldwide are devastating lives and livelihoods. Meanwhile, freshwater biodiversity is rapidly declining, and freshwater ecosystems are continually degrading. Over the past 50 years, we have lost 1/3 of our wetlands, and an astonishing 83% of our freshwater species populations over the same period.
“We urgently need to reverse these losses because healthy freshwater ecosystems are central to ensuring water for all, and to tackling the climate and nature crises,“ said Kirsten Schuijt, the Director General of WWF International, in a video message that was broadcast during the event.

"I’m proud to say that WWF has been working in China with the government, partners, companies and communities for over 40 years - including on the Yangtze, where we have supported efforts to ensure a Living Yangtze from source to sea. Our decades of work range from community projects to conservation of the Yangtze finless porpoise, from promoting new river basin planning approaches with GIWP to publishing the Living Yangtze report on the health of the basin with academic partners."

"We have witnessed substantial progress along the Yangtze in recent years - like the Yangtze River Protection Law and last year’s first increase in critically endangered Yangtze finless porpoises. Both of these are inspiring examples of China’s commitment to protecting, restoring and sustainably managing its freshwater ecosystems for the benefit of people and nature,” added Schuijt.
Mr. Li Yuanyuan, Chairman of the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) and Vice President of the General Institute of Water Resources & Hydropower Planning (GIWP) under the Ministry of Water Resources, emphasized, "The collaboration between GIWP and WWF in the field of integrated basin planning and risk management has spanned over fifteen years. The series of publications resulting from this partnership have been published by UNESCO and have had a positive international impact."

"We hope that this World Water Congress can serve as an opportunity for both parties to continue their collaboration in this new era, working hand in hand with the international community to protect critical basins. Additionally, we aspire to share China's valuable practical experiences to collectively address the global challenges posed by climate change and water resource management," added Mr. Li Yuanyuan.
This successful special session featured six keynote presentations and three roundtable discussions, showcasing that water stewardship actions under the theme "Water for All" are a crucial solution to address water risk challenges.

Distinguished speakers from various institutions, including the Institute of Geography at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tsinghua University, the Environmental Science Society of Jiangsu Province, the China National Institute of Standardization, the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area, the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS), Novozymes Group, The Coca-Cola Company, the Shenzhen One Planet Foundation, and the WWF International Network, shared their insights and perspectives during the keynote presentations and roundtable sessions.
The keynote presentations highlighted a range of topics, including river basin projects addressing comprehensive water challenges, actions for water stewardship, the Living Yangtze Report 2022, the Science-based Targets for Water (SBTW) methodology and Taihu pilot, the Industrial Park Water Stewardship Guide 2.0, and the "Journey of Water" in China.

The roundtable discussions explored pathways for multi-stakeholder participation in collective actions for water, using scientific tools and standards as a foundation to clarify basin responsibilities and opportunities. It focused on leveraging industrial parks to collaborate with business partners in creating value related to water. Additionally, it highlighted the role of communication in fostering collaboration with society to engage more people in the action of "Walking with Water" and promoting harmonious coexistence.
During the conference, Lu Lunyan, CEO of WWF China, stated, "WWF is actively promoting Science-based Targets for Nature and Nature-based Solutions worldwide. We aim to facilitate multi-stakeholder engagement guided by science to effectively address the water resource crisis exacerbated by climate change."
The 18th World Water Congress was held in Beijing from the 11th to the 15th of September 2023, with the five-day event themed "Water for All: Harmony between Humans and Nature." It was the first time that China had hosted the World Water Congress.
18th World Water Congress in Beijing
© WWF-China
WWF's Wenwei Ren speaking during the Special session at the World Water Congress in Beijing
© WWF-China