Statement by Christopher Briggs for World Water Day 2014
We join with UN Water in celebrating World Water Day with its focus on water and energy. At the Ramsar Convention we have just celebrated our World Wetlands Day looking at wetlands and agriculture so our themes have much common ground. Wetlands – lakes, rivers, marshes, ponds etc – are the world’s water producers, and transporters, storing and moving it for multiple uses such as agriculture, energy production, for use in our homes and so on. The broad range of services from wetlands supports us all in one way or another.
On the other hand, if we allow intensive or uncontrolled use of wetlands and water, we will have more challenges. The health and indeed the very survival of wetlands can be at risk from energy production with dams and intermittent water flows sometimes depriving wetlands of their natural flora, fauna and life cycles. Biofuels can be a challenge to wetland health through excessive use of water or through the draining of wetlands for biofuel production. The cultivation of various biofuel crops has increased rapidly since 2000, a worrying example being the escalating production of palm oil resulting in the massive loss of peatlands in southeast Asia.
How to find the right balance? Joined up thinking that recognizes the position of wetlands in the middle of the water-energy-food nexus where wetlands affect and are affected by energy, water and food policies. There are many great examples of steps taken along the road to sustainability in the materials produced for World Water Day and from our World Wetlands Day so we know we can manage our water and wetlands to sustain our planet, we just need to do it on a global scale!
Happy World Water Day!
Christopher Briggs, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands