National Solutions as National Policy: Code Red Water

This March, Biodiversity for a Livable Climate continues its series of mini-conferences exploring how we can leverage nature’s solutions to shape policy on climate action and resilience. Our fourth installment features global perspectives on the challenges and opportunities to restoring water cycles.

View the recording below, and access the chat and related resources, including presentation slides, here. If you have feedback on the event, please share it here.

Thousands of projects on six continents are endeavoring to cool our overheated planet and restore biodiversity loss by harnessing the power of photosynthesis, carbon sequestration and regeneration of degraded landscapes. Most of these efforts are not by governments or corporations, but by coalitions of researchers, farmers, fishermen, forest-dwellers, and village cooperatives. What would happen if this “Blessed Unrest” working to improve soils and fight climate warming were integrated into government policy on agriculture, fishing, water, and forests?

We were so pleased to welcome Atossa Soltani and Michal Kravčík to discuss the need for timely interventions in our water management that can support functioning water cycles to meet the needs of living systems and cool the planet.

Atossa Soltani is the director of global strategy for the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative, an alliance of 30 indigenous nations in Ecuador and Peru working to permanently protect 86 million acres of rainforests in one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. She is also the founder and board president of Amazon Watch and served as the organization’s first executive director for 18 years. 

In response to the Amazon fires in 2019, Atossa helped co-found Artists for Amazonia to catalyze global action for the Amazon. In recognition for her life’s work as rainforests and indigenous rights campaigner, Atossa was named the Hillary Institute’s 2013 Global Laureate for Climate Leadership.  Atossa is also a member and contributing author to the Science Panel for the Amazon.

Michal Kravčík is an acclaimed Slovak water scientist, Goldman environmental award recipient, ASHOKA fellow, and co-author of A New Water Paradigm: Water for the Recovery of the Climate, which emphasizes hydrologic cycles in addressing climate change and resilience. He is a recent founder of the Water Holistic Company, Ltd., and chairman of Slovakia’s NGO People and Water awarded the Democracy and Civil Society Development Prize.

His Blue Alternative projects saved several villages destined for dam construction evacuation, demonstrating that ecosystems can produce water several times more efficiently than dams at 20% cost. In response to the historic 2010 floods in Slovakia, he spearheaded a massive flood and drought prevention efforts to revitalize 488 townships, rehydrating their watersheds. Kravčík coordinated the Green Restoration Program policy for the Košice Region of Slovakia, approved by the regional parliament in 2021. Kravčík’s work is recognized internationally through grants and fellowships. He has attracted media and academy interest in the USA, Japan, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Canada, UK, Sweden, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kazakhstan, Estonia, France, Hungary, Greece, Cyprus, South Korea, India, Iran, Australia, and Poland. 

As he points out, integrated watershed, forest, and wetland restoration will benefit both industry and agriculture, all urban and rural regions, global North and South.Even if we reverse greenhouse gas emissions, he notes, this will not stop climate change unless we change how we manage water. In addition to his work implementing better water management in regions around the world, he has authored a Global Action Plan for the Restoration of Natural Water Cycles and ClimateHe continues to engage scientists and policymakers to adopt these strategies. 

To view earlier installments in our Nature’s Solutions as National Policy series, check out our conference page.