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UNEP/GRID-Geneva & WWF host UN Water Conference Side Event

Date: Mar. 22 2023

Concrete threat to water security: Sustainable sand mining solutions to build resilience

Watch the recording here

Date: 24 March 2023

Time: 13:30- 14:30 (EST)/ 18:30-19:30 (CET)

Register here to attend in person (by March 22nd)

Register here to watch it online

Sand is fundamental to our societies and economies as it is the primary raw material for concrete, asphalt, and land reclamation. But sand is also essential for healthy rivers, wetlands, deltas and coasts and for biodiversity. However, in many parts of the world, it is being extracted far faster than it can be naturally replenished. And this has major impacts, contributing to sinking and shrinking of deltas, salinization of aquifers, and loss of natural protection against storm surges - posing a growing threat to water supplies, food production, infrastructure and livelihoods.

So mining sand wisely and sustainably will be critical to water security in many areas as well as key to tackling nature loss and climate change, and driving sustainable development. Despite all this, sand mining remains largely ungoverned in many regions of the world.

This side session will focus on last year’s global report by UNEP, Sand and Sustainability: 10 strategic recommendations to avert a crisis as well as taking a close look at the Mekong delta, which is at the forefront of the sand mining challenge. WWF will detail initial results from a groundbreaking IKI-funded project in the delta - including initial results from the first ever, delta wide sand budget as well as research into impacts of sand mining. Critically, these results will all feed into a plan to support revising policies in the delta, which could be replicated elsewhere.

The session will discuss opportunities to adopt relevant policies and standards and promote best practices that are in tune with local sand dependencies and development imperatives. It will also outline how countries and companies can collaborate with UNEP, WWF, and other leaders in the sand mining field to reduce the impact of sand mining and enhance the conservation and wise use of wetlands across the globe - boosting biodiversity, resilience and water security


Introduction to the side event of "Concrete threat to water security and resilience: Scale of sand mining and key threats" - Ligia Noronha, UN Assistant Secretary General, Head of UNEP, NY Office

Opening remarks on the river and coastal erosion situation in the Viet Nam Mekong Delta - Mr. Vu Xuan Thanh, Deputy Director of Viet Nam Dike and Disaster Management Authority, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Viet Nam

Developing a sand budget for the Mekong Delta - Marc Goichot, WWF Asia-Pacific Freshwater Lead, overseeing IKI-funded project in the delta in Viet Nam

Global solutions: Global Sand Observatory and Maine Sand Watch - Pascal Peduzzi, Director, UNEP-GRID/Geneva & co-author of the 2022 Sand and Sustainability report

Call to Action: Launch of WWF and Northwestern University paper with conclusions from seminar series on sand mining – Kate Newman, WWF Lead, Sustainable Infrastructure Initiative

Panel discussion: Moderated by Sonya Hoo, Managing Director & Partner at the Boston Consulting Group - Social Impact, Climate & Sustainability, and Public Sector.  

Speakers to include:

Halinishi Yusuf, Newcastle University

Zachary Sickmann, University of Texas