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Global development strategies miss out wetlands


This is the conclusion drawn by Wetlands International after an international workshop in South Africa. The organisation presented today an agenda for poverty reduction.

Wetlands International proposes an agenda for addressing poverty-environment issues in wetlands in which governments, NGOs and private sector collaborate to ensure the livelihood security of people living in or near wetlands, which include the majority of the poor world wide. The actions called for new partnerships to:

1) Recognise the important role of healthy wetlands in poverty reduction
2) Strengthen collaboration between the conservation and development sectors
3) Mainstream the interrelationship between wetlands and livelihoods into international and national policies, plans and strategies
4) Empower socially and economically excluded stakeholders to share in planning and decision making that impact their wetlands
5) Build capacity to implement a more integrated approach to wetland and water management and poverty reduction
6) Improve access to funding for the poor through small-scale schemes that support alternative livelihoods as incentives that enable wetlands to be managed sustainably

Wetland degradation is leading to poverty
Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems on earth and benefit people by providing income, food security, health and nutrition, water storage and purification, and flood and drought mitigation. Yet, wetlands are decreasing and degrading more rapidly than any other ecosystem on earth, plunging millions of vulnerable people into poverty and making those already poor destitute. In many areas, local people are loosing their livelihoods when their fishery areas deteriorate, fertile and wet agricultural areas and grazing grounds disappear. This trend must be reversed.

Ignored by global development programmes
Despite these facts, wetland conservation and management are not on the agenda for meeting the UN Millennium Goals on poverty, hunger and environmental sustainability. Goal 7 which deals with environmental sustainability, reduces the topic to ‘access to safe drinking water’ and doesn’t mention nature’s water storage and supply centres: wetlands. 

Major investments in the development policies are coming from the “G8”.  In 2005, these countries promised 50 billion dollar on aid and an additional 55 billion debt relief; especially for Africa. The implementation of the G8 Africa Action Plan has a specific water chapter, naming investments of the G8 in hydroelectric power, sanitation, access to drinking water, irrigation. The plan is, however, ignoring the key role of wetlands in providing livelihoods and managing water.  Wetlands International predicts increasing poverty due to decreasing availability and access to wetland resources unless development policies drastically change.

Further information, contact: Phone.  +31-(0)-6 5060 1917  Phone.  +31-(0)-6 28725883 Phone:  +31-(0)-6 29586096

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