The connection between water and human security is already recognised by many global conventions and entities, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank. Nonetheless, it is also important to realise that water and waterbodies do not exist as separate entities. They are part of a landscape’s water system, and their health status depends on the health of the ecosystem they host. Most of the water-related problems could be solved if ecosystems are taken into account. This role of ecosystems, such as wetlands, is still missing from the equation of water and human security. At the 24th Conference of Parties of UNFCCC, we talked about this link.
Why it is so important to take wetlands into account while talking about human security? Because they have a bilateral relation- degraded wetlands can contribute to conflict, for example through forcing people to violent actions due to lack of other livelihood options; and conflict can cause severe degradation of wetlands, for example, using drying up of swamps as a tactic to chase rebels out of their hiding. Therefore, in relevant areas, human security status should be an important consideration for wetland conservation initiatives.
Also, wetlands can form part of the solution to the problem of human security by providing livelihoods and natural resources for the communities that depend on them. If the whole water system is taken into consideration, water infrastructures are built after reviewing both the upstream and downstream interests, and the nature dependent on wetlands is also protected, it can ensure healthy, functioning wetland contributing to human peace and resilience.
In this session at UNFCCC, our CEO Jane Madgwick clearly recounted the story.
While working for restoring and safeguarding wetlands, it is impossible for us to overlook this connection between wetlands and human security. Now this relation between wetlands and human security is becoming even more crucial because of climate change and its impacts on wetlands.