Wetlands as Nature-based Solutions for Climate Change: World Wetlands Day Webinar Series

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On the occasion of World Wetlands Day, the Forest Department, Government of Haryana, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Wetlands International South Asia are holding a series of five webinars on seminal topics related to wetlands conservation in the state as well as the national level. The second webinar of the series, titled – Wetlands as Nature-based Solutions (NbS) for Climate Change was held on January 27, 2022.

Dr Vivek Saxena (Managing Director, Haryana Forest Development Corporation) made the opening remarks for the webinar, highlighting the theme of the World Wetlands Day – ‘Wetlands action for people and nature’. He also drew reference to the recently launched IUCN Global Standards on NbS, which could serve a robust basis for designing wetlands-mediated solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as for monitoring progress towards the same. He also highlighted the efforts of Haryana government in water conservation.

Ms Anchal Arya, Lifestyle Columnist and Trainer with United States Embassy anchored the event, attended by over 100 participants from all over India. The event began with showcasing of a song on climate change – ‘Prithvi Manthan’ by noted singer and filmmaker, Mrs Susmita Das.

Mr Siddhanta Das (Chairperson, Odisha Real Estate Regulatory Authority and Former Director General (Forests) and Special Secretary, Government of India and Ex-member, National Green Tribunal) in his opening remarks highlighted the spectrum of biological diversity that wetlands, especially Ramsar Sites contain, which also forms the very basis for their ability to mitigate as well as adapt to adverse impacts of climate change. He called for ensuring better integration of wetlands in climate change policies and programmes, especially state-level climate action plans.

Dr J.R. Bhatt (Advisor, MoEFCC) mentioned that addressing the threats of climate change required amending lifestyles, something which Indian culture has imbibed over the ages. He stated that the developed world has been unable to deliver on pathways for making lifestyles that were less carbon-intensive.

Mr Ravindra Singh (Director, Indo-German Biodiversity Programme) highlighted the need for investing into the conservation of select wetlands such as mangroves and sea-grasses for addressing climate change impacts. Dr Dhananjay Mohan (Director, Wildlife Institute of India) emphasized that wetlands need not be seen in isolation in the landscape, but their value in the entire landscape, as an ecological network, be made the basis of conservation programming.

Mr Raquibul Amin (Country Representative-IUCN Bangladesh) stressed the need for sharing lessons and best practices for enabling the conservation of wetlands. He cited the case of Chilika, wherein the international community had shown great interest in learning from governance and management arrangements. Mr Siddharth Nair (Programme Officer, UNDP-India) showcased the efforts of UNDP in conservation of high-altitude wetlands. He highlighted the role of these wetlands in buffering the hydrological extreme events, as well as acting as carbon stores.