Forests, water and wetlands are essential for sustainable livelihoods
Water is essential for people, forests, wetlands and all life on earth. Water nourishes our ecosystems causing them to provide us the water, food, medicine, fiber and energy that we depend on for our livelihoods.
On the occasion of the International Day of Forests, we at the Ramsar Convention on wetlands join the international community to celebrate forests and their fundamental role for providing water in the quality and quantity that is essential for livelihoods and fresh water habitats.
Approximately 70% of all water from rivers, lakes and aquifers is used for irrigation while it is estimated that water scarcity affects more than 40 per cent of the global population and is projected to rise in the future. By 2050 global demand for water is projected to increase to 55%. Water is vital for livelihoods making it imperative that we act to sustainably manage ecosystems such as forests and wetlands that contribute to water availability.
Ensuring access to water for all is goal number 6 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 by the international community. The newly launched SDG’s seek to set us on a new path where economic development is not at the expense of the environment.
Preserving, restoring and promoting sustainable use of all ecosystems that take care of water will be critical to achieve goal 6.
Forests reduce risk from erosion, protect watersheds and are a source of drinking water. Wetlands store and ensure our supply of fresh water. Forests depend on groundwater which is replenished and stored in wetlands. Forests directly affect the livelihoods of 20% of the world’s population, while more than a billion people make a living directly from wetlands.
Forests, water and wetlands are linked, mutually dependent and collectively contribute to a healthy people and planet.
It is therefore important to raise awareness and understanding at all levels of the interactions between forests, water & wetlands and develop actions that promote collective sustainable use and management.
International Day of Forests celebrations
Acting Secretary General Ania Grobicki and Senior Advisor for Europe Tobias Salathé attended International Day of Forests celebrations at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. The event was organized by the UNECE Forest Unit and hosted by the government of Finland and the Swiss Confederation. The focus of the meeting was to illustrate the relationship between forests and water and the many benefits and services that forests provide for water management.
Ania Grobicki gave an opening speech stating “Despite the environmental challenges that we see in our work and that we hear about daily on the news, this is indeed an occasion to celebrate because at last, there is policy coherence on the international level creating a balanced and explicit link between environment on one hand, and development on the other – embodied in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that were adopted by all countries last September in New York. Wetlands are mentioned twice, together with forests – the first time under Goal 6, the water goal, and the second time under Goal 15, the biodiversity goal.”
Advisor for Europe Tobias Salathé gave a presentation “Water and Peatland Forests” advocating the benefits of keeping peatland forests wet: reduction of greenhouse emissions, carbon storage, water storage and purification and biodiversity support and conservation.
STRP Chair Royal Gardner attended “Forests and Water” event hosted by the United Nations in New York. The event attracted over 130 participants, of which delegates from 52 Member States were represented at the event. In his remarks Professor Royal Gardner talked about the Ramsar Convention and its work and highlighted mangroves benefits and significance of mangrove restoration.