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Beijing holds meeting for solutions to water crisis

By Liu Xiangrui  (China Daily)

08:58, May 22, 2013

An international meeting that gathered leading experts, practitioners, policymakers, and investors from China and abroad to promote natural solutions to the water crisis facing an urbanizing world was held in Beijing on May 16.

Water resources are increasingly jeopardized by climate change, pollution, watershed degradation, and misuse, with 80 percent of the world now facing significant threats to its water security.

Experts believe the challenge is particularly severe in China, where one in seven people lacks access to drinking water that meets national standards.

The 18th Katoomba Meeting: Forests, Water, and People, hosted by Forest Trends, the Katoomba Group, and the Capital Greening Commission of Beijing, had representatives from 40 Chinese and foreign organizations from 20 countries.

Co-hosts of the event were the Beijing Parks and Forestry Department of International Cooperation, the Beijing Forestry Society, and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). Additional event partners included IUCN China, the China Soil and Water Conservation Association, Beijing Forest Carbon Association, China Institute of Green Carbon, and the China Green Carbon Foundation.

In addition to protecting and restoring the natural water infrastructure upon which society depends, investments in watershed service (IWS) programs can achieve returns on social capital, rural development, carbon sequestration, and biodiversity, experts said.

Forest Trends has tracked the steady growth in IWS over recent years, with nature-based solutions to urban water insecurity, like the source water protection programs demonstrated in New York City and Beijing, an important part of this trend.

China has been a leader in the field, accounting for over $7.4 billion in watershed investments in 2011.

The potential for scale in investments in IWS is great, but can only be achieved through innovation in policy, business, and program design.

Katoomba XVIII has brought together actors from all sectors to galvanize learning, share experience, and catalyze innovation for forests, water, and people.

The meeting also included workshops, such as examining how the cross-provincial, compensation-based watershed restoration program for Beijing's water supply has functioned in recent years, as well as exchanges between domestic and international experts.

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