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Freshwater Challenge Questions


If your query is not covered by these FAQs, please send your question(s) to the Support Unit via The Support Unit will continue to update these FAQs.

Does the Challenge require countries to make new commitments?

The Freshwater Challenge does not require countries to make new commitments outside of the already established processes, but rather to integrate water-related targets and commitments across the processes they are already reporting on. Consistent with Targets 2 and 3 of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the Freshwater Challenge does require each member country to specify national targets for restoring and conserving rivers and wetlands by 2030 and then implementing plans to achieve these targets.

Does joining the Challenge require financial commitments?

No. There are no financial commitments for countries that join the Freshwater Challenge either now or in the future. Financial support can be provided in future but this is on a voluntary basis - no financial support is expected.

How do countries know which rivers and wetlands to restore and conserve?

The final decision on which degraded rivers and wetlands to invest in will always rest with Member States. However, consistent with the GBF Target 1, countries are encouraged to use a participatory approach and will be able to seek guidance and assistance from the Freshwater Challenge Support Unit, which will be backed by freshwater experts from a variety of global organizations, including Conservation International, IUCN, The Nature Conservancy, UNEP, Wetlands International, and WWF.

Does the Challenge only consider restoration and conservation done by governments?

What is most important is that degraded rivers and wetlands are restored and that freshwater ecosystems of particular importance for biodiversity and ecological functions and services are protected - and that each country achieves its overall targets. The Freshwater Challenge does not distinguish between restoration and conservation projects that are implemented by governments, companies or communities. It is up to each Member State to decide which restoration and conservation efforts support progress towards its targets.

Do Nature-based Solutions (NbS) count?

Yes - Nature-based Solutions (NbS) that involve the restoration and/or conservation of freshwater ecosystems are critical tools and could count. Indeed, it is expected that NbS will be a central part of efforts to meet the Freshwater Challenge, particularly NbS for climate adaptation, disaster risk reduction etc.

What about conservation and protection? Does that count?

Yes. Since  the focus of the Freshwater Challenge is on the the recognition and integration of healthy rivers and wetlands as essential resources for enhancing climate resilience, reversing nature loss and driving progress towards SDGs, the Challenge also includes a conservation component. Consistent with the global 30 x 30 target, member states are expected to conserve a representative portion of their freshwater ecosystems of particular importance for biodiversity and ecological functions and services. This is an important tool that can be used to ensure restoration investments are sustained over the long-term and prevent any further degradation of their vital rivers, lakes and wetlands.

How will restoration and protection be paid for?

Along with existing government funds to support restoration (including funds for projects related to water and food security, climate adaptation, disaster risk reduction etc), a key aspect of the Freshwater Challenge - and a central role of the Support Unit - will be to connect countries and restoration projects with funding sources. This includes not only multilateral sources of funding but also the private sector - with companies and financial institutions being encouraged to drastically scale up their investments in restoration.

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