The workshop on Wetlands, Water and Livelihoods brought together a range of experience from 30 countries and included representatives from national and regional governments, non-governmental organizations, aid organizations, and research institutions. It follows the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Conference of Parties in November 2005, in which over 150 countries committed to take action on wetlands and poverty reduction according to Resolution 14.
Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems on earth and benefit people by providing income, food security, health and nutrition, water storage and purification, flood and drought mitigation, as well as supporting a range of socio-cultural values. Yet, wetlands are decreasing and degrading more rapidly than any other ecosystem on earth, plunging millions of vulnerable people into poverty and making the existing poor destitute. Both poverty and wetland degradation are increased by inequitable investments in misdirected economic development schemes. This trend must be reversed. The workshop participants identified viable opportunities for reducing poverty through new approaches to wetland management, while sustaining the resource for future generations.
The participants acknowledged that while conservation and poverty reduction must be seen as complementary objectives, tradeoffs may be necessary. Countries need to take into account the full value of wetlands services for people when making development decisions, and use catchment and transboundary approaches for water management.
The workshop participants identified several key areas for action:
Strengthen collaboration between conservation and development organizations and between governments, NGOs and the private sector.
Mainstream the interrelationship between wetlands and livelihoods into international and national policies, plans and strategies. For example, define specific wetland targets and indicators that link MDG 1 on poverty and hunger and MDG 7 on environmental sustainability; implement the environmental action plan of the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD); and scale up lessons from community-based projects to influence policy and planning processes.
Empower socially and economically excluded stakeholders to take active roles in and derive benefits from managing wetland resources. For example, define tenure and water rights; use more transparent and community-based resource development and allocation; and recognize the different needs, access to resources and contributions of women, men and youth.
Develop innovative finance mechanisms. For example, small-scale schemes that support alternative livelihoods as incentives for sustainable wetland management.
Build capacity for a more integrated approach to wetland and water management and poverty reduction. For example, create opportunities for learning outside of formal structures, with an emphasis on district and local levels; build on and apply local and traditional knowledge.
Alex Kaat +31 (0)6 5060 1917
The Wetlands and Poverty Reduction Project and the Wetlands and Livelihoods Working Group of Wetlands International are taking action on these opportunities in Africa, South-East Asia and
Latin America through innovative partnerships. Collaboration with others is welcomed.
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