The participants of a side event on ‘Water, Wetlands and Aichi Targets, organized by Wetlands International – South Asia concluded that the success of achieving Aichi targets 2011-2020 was critically dependant on effective integration of wetlands within water management to achieve biodiversity and ecosystem services outcomes. The session was attended by over 40 national delegates, development banks, representatives of non-governmental organizations and media.
Introducing the session, Mr. Sudhir Pande (Wetlands International – South Asia) mentioned that the water and wetland management sectors had distinctly failed to capitalize on opportunities for creating co-benefits as wetlands continued to be lost and degraded, with fragmentation of hydrological regimes as one of the key degradation drivers.
Dr. Ritesh Kumar (Wetlands International – South Asia) highlighted the connections between wetlands, water management and Aichi targets. He stressed the need for water sector to consider wetlands not merely from the perspective of water allocation but as a means to deliver the objectives of water , food and energy security more efficiently and with significant co-benefits.
Prof. Nick Davidson (Ramsar Convention)
introduced the TEEB – Water and Wetlands Report. His presentation included several case studies and examples wherein wetland management served to be a cost effective way of delivering water management objectives, and also increasing costs of inaction as wetlands continued to be lost at an unprecedented rate.
Dr. Ajit Pattnaik(Chilika Development Authority)presented the case of Lake Chilika wherein by addressing restoration of hydrological regimes within management strategies, it had been possible to rejuvenate biodiversity as well as secure livelihoods of communities through sustainable use of resource base.
The presentations were followed by a panel discussion on the practical mechanisms for ensuring better and effective integration of wetland and water management objectives.
Dr. AsadRahmani (Bombay Natural History Society) stated that the society needs to stop considering wetlands as wastelands, which could be ensured by creating awareness amongst policy and decision makers on the rich gamut of ecosystem services provided by these ecosystems.
Dr. P. R. Sinha (Director, Wildlife Institute of India) urged the need for implementing effective regulatory frameworks for protecting wetlands from developmental impacts.
Mr. AnupamJoshi (World Bank, New Delhi) highlighted capacity gaps, both in terms of skilled technical personnel as well as investment, in ensuring integrated wetlands management
Prof. E. J. James (Member, National Wetland Regulatory Authority, Government of India ) cited several evidence base from India wherein disastrous consequences have emerged through water management decisions which had failed to take into account the impacts on wetlands. He urged for better information and knowledge base to connect the two sectors.
Mr. David Coates (Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity) reaffirmed that water and wetland management were indeed central to achieving the goals as set out in Aichi targets. He highlighted the work being taken up within the CBD for promoting water cycle as a conceptual framework for increasing focus on water while identifying pathways for achieving biodiversity conservation and sustained ecosystem services.
Dr. J. R. Bhatt (Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India) urged the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity to map out synergies between wise use and ecosystem principles for integrated management of wetlands.