Healthy wetlands 'critical' to sustainable future

Ramsar Convention’s Secretary General Dr Christopher Briggs says it is ‘critical’ that the world’s governments start to restore wetlands to a healthy state to ensure water in the ‘right quantity and quality is available for our future needs’. 

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Republic of South Korea

His statement was delivered ahead of the 7th World Water Forum (WWF), which will take place in Daegu and Gyeongbuk in the Republic of South Korea from 12-17 April 2015. 

With over 35,000 participants from 170 countries expected to attend the event, Dr Briggs’ comments served as a timely reminder of the monumental importance of wetlands management in protected areas and arrived just days after the 2015 Water Development report forecasted that, by 2050, global water demand is likely to increase by 55%.

“Water sustains life and wetlands are the source of water and of sustainable development, but by 2050 global water demand is projected to increase by 55% according to the just-released Water Development Report 2015,” said Dr Briggs, who is also preparing for the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP12) in Punta del Este, from 1-9 June 2015. “To meet this growing demand for water it is critical that we start today to restore wetlands that ensure water is available in the right quantity and quality for our future needs.”

This edition of the WWF, which aims to implement the solutions that were identified during the 6th edition in France in 2012, will focus on galvanising the progress made on global water issues and allow the water community to work towards a more sustainable and secure future for water.

Lee Soontak, Co-Chairman of the International Steering Committee for the WWF, believes the world is finally waking up to the challenges facing water, a point illustrated by the spectacular rise in the number of delegates at this year’s event in Korea. “The World Water Forum had a humble beginning with 500 participants from 63 countries. It has grown into the largest water event in the world with over 35,000 participants,” he said.

“With the growing participation, the 7th Forum will draw practical and concrete solutions to water challenges which once seemed vague and elusive. Given that about one billion people around the world are suffering from water-related challenges, we must address them for the future of all individuals, nations, regions, and the planet as a whole and for the sustainable growth,” he added.

World Water Council (WWC) President Benedito Braga was keen to emphasize that the challenges facing water are not just an issue for developing countries and said a key objective of the WWF is to work out how to make water security the cornerstone of sustainable development. “The WWC has been pursuing this objective since its foundation in 1996. As water-related risks are not confined to a particular region, or to only developed or developing countries, this question concerns every single one of us on the planet,” he said.

“By focusing attention on how to overcome, together, today’s water challenges, the World Water Forum creates a better, more sustainable future for humankind. It informs and inspires collective action based on existing accomplishments, expertise and experience. It supports the formulation of a new global water agenda and catalyses positive change. It generates political will to advance the cause of water. For this year’s Forum, the WWC Council and the Republic of Korea have joined efforts to implement a global framework for water.

“The international community will be making binding commitments for the Post-2015 Development Agenda and concrete recommendations for the CoP21 climate negotiations. The Forum will be ready to illustrate how water challenges transcend all boundaries of development and influence all sectors of activity,” he added.

Four main subjects grouping 16 themes constitute the thematic framework of the 7th Forum;

  • Water Security for All
  • Water for Development and Prosperity
  • Water for Sustainability: Harmonizing Humans and Nature
  • Constructing Feasible Implementation Mechanisms

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Work area: 
Protected Areas
Water
World Heritage
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