Lakes and wetlands are the life support systems of the Earth – and we are working to ensure that they thrive well into the future.
Providing water for everyone
According to the United Nations, the world is heading towards a global water crisis due to climate disruption, lack of sanitation and growing pressure over freshwater resources. Healthy ecosystems, including wetlands, mangroves and lakes, are the most vital part of the global water cycle – storing freshwater, diluting pollutants and providing water for human needs.
The Sustainable Development Goals clearly recognize this as part of Goal 6: to ensure access to water for all, countries have committed under target 6 to protect and restore water-related ecosystems by 2030, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes. But these critical ecosystems are still being lost and degraded at an alarming rate. Over the past 300 years, 87% of the world’s wetlands have been lost. We are late, so every day counts.
Reversing the biodiversity crisis
Biodiversity is declining faster than at any time in human history. According to the 2019 IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) Global Assessment report, around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken.
Lakes and wetlands are biodiversity hotspots, and as such, their conservation is directly related to the health of their surrounding landscapes. But species in freshwater ecosystems are going extinct at a faster rate than terrestrial or marine species.
A critical climate solution
Freshwater ecosystems such as wetlands absorb carbon from the atmosphere and store it underground for hundreds or even thousands of years. According to UNEP, they store more carbon than any other ecosystem, with peatlands alone storing twice as much as all the world’s forests.
Managed and conserved effectively, freshwater ecosystems are an invaluable nature-based solution to the climate crisis – not only for climate mitigation, but also to adapt to a warming planet, by absorbing excess water and helping prevent both floods and droughts.
Providing benefits for everyone
Improving the conservation and management of lakes and wetlands brings health, food and water security benefits. According to Ramsar’s Global Wetland Outlook, 4 billion people globally are reliant on the services provided by these ecosystems.
Through improved management and the adoption of sustainable practices, we can ensure that economic activities such as agriculture, fisheries or tourism do not harm these critical ecosystems – securing all the wildlife that calls them home, and the benefits they provide for human beings.