Welcome to the April edition of the Best Practices Monthly Features. In this edition, we present practical solutions for urban river rehabilitation contained in a recently launched joint publication of UN-Habitat and Tongji University: Making Cities more Sustainable through Rehabilitating Polluted Urban Rivers - Lessons from China and Developing Countries. The recommendations and key messages in this publication offer measures and pathways to pursue the rehabilitation of heavily polluted urban rivers in developing countries.
It is estimated that more than half of the world’s five hundred biggest rivers are seriously polluted. The United Nations World Water Development Report for 2017 reports figures to show that, on average, high-income countries treat about 70 percent of the municipal and industrial wastewater they generate. That ratio drops to 38% in upper middle-income countries and to 28% in lower middle-income countries. In low-income countries, only 8% undergoes treatment of any kind.
In the New Urban Agenda, adopted at the third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador in 2016, Member States committed to promote the conservation and sustainable use of water by rehabilitating water resources within the urban, peri-urban, and rural areas and reducing and treating wastewater. The Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the New Urban Agenda reaffirm the commitment of world leaders to find sustainable solutions to restore the health of rivers and other water bodies. Increasing wastewater collection and treatment to restore the health of heavily polluted urban rivers is, therefore, an urgent global priority.
CASE STUDY - SUZHOU CREEK, CHINA
The rehabilitation project of the Suzhou Creek has proved that better management of drainage systems is key to controlling pollution discharged into rivers, both in dry and wet weather. These examples also illustrate how UN-Habitat is actively engaged in supporting governments and diverse stakeholders to improve wastewater management and public open spaces in the urban environment.