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Freshwater Challenge - About the Challenge


The Freshwater Challenge (FWC) is a country-led initiative, launched at the UN Water Conference in New York in March 2023 by the governments of Colombia, DR Congo, Ecuador, Gabon, Mexico and Zambia. It is part of the Water Action Agenda and under the auspices of the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.


It aims to restore 300,000 km of degraded rivers and 350 million hectares of degraded wetlands by 2030 as well as conserve intact freshwater ecosystems.

Governments form the membership and all UN countries are encouraged to join the Challenge.

The Freshwater Challenge was chosen as one of the official Water Outcomes of COP28 in the United Arab Emirates.

Purpose of the Freshwater Challenge

Purpose of the Freshwater Challenge

1. Integrate - Ensure that restoration and conservation of freshwater ecosystems is integrated and properly addressed in the relevant global, regional, and national processes to tackle the climate and nature crisis and achieve sustainable development;

2. Substantiate - Quantify existing global ambitions and account for the contributions of the different stakeholders to restore and conserve freshwater ecosystems by supporting countries to define quantitative, geographically specific, and coherent targets across sectors and connecting targeted interventions from non-state actors with national plans and strategies; and

3. Accelerate - Fast track implementation of freshwater commitments by increasing the overall investment into restoration and conservation of freshwater ecosystems, mobilizing resources through existing funds and initiatives, and leveraging investments. 

Supporting the Freshwater Challenge

Supporting the Freshwater Challenge

The group of Supporting Organisations who have supported it since its inception (WWF, IUCN, UNEP, The Nature Conservancy, Wetlands International, Conservation International, Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and UNCCD) will support the Challenge at the global level. More Supporting Partners (CSOs, private sector, academia, philanthropic organisations, etc.) are encouraged to join national partnerships to support the FWC Government Members.

The institutional arrangements for supporting the Freshwater Challenge at the global level are under development with the leading countries and donors.

The Support Unit will provide four major services to the global Freshwater Challenge community:

(i) Set up and manage a Global Tracker for the collection of contributions to the global goals and national targets, aggregating both State and non-state actor projects, programmes and initiatives that comply with the FWC methodology and reporting progress;

(ii) Develop a methodology for restoration and conservation of freshwater ecosystems (e.g. ecological processes and physical characteristics to be addressed in project activities, inclusive governance, etc.), provide support to monitor the implementation and enhance synergy in development;

(iii) Organise an annual meeting of the Member States, back-to-back to an international meeting to keep track of progress, share experiences, lessons, asks, etc.; and

(iv) Mobilize resources, connecting Members and partners at national level to finance and investment opportunities at global and regional levels.

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