Healthy wetlands - healthy people
Wetlands are important ecosystems with high biodiversity values and ecological and economic benefits. They are one of the most undervalued ecosystems and few people realize the range of products derived from freshwater habitats like wetlands: food, water supply, water purification, regulation of water flows, coast protection, carbon storage, regulation of sediments, biodiversity, pollination, tourism, recreation and cultural services.
Economic valuations of some wetland areas reveal that their overall contribution to the national economy can be estimated as being hundreds of millions of US dollars per year. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment gave wetlands a value of US$15 trillion in 1997.
The degradation and loss of wetlands is more rapid than rates for other ecosystems. Similarly, the status of both freshwater and, to a lesser extent, coastal species is deteriorating faster than that of species in other ecosystems. Promoting sustainable management of wetlands is important to halt the loss of biodiversity and for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
“The Norwegian Water and Wetlands Initiative”
On 8 April 2011 Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented a Government White Paper on “Towards greener development: On a coherent environmental and development policy”. In the White paper, the Government highlighted its deep concern about the loss and deterioration of wetlands such as lakes, marshes and rivers and suggested to dedicate more efforts to maintain and restore wetlands, for their environmental values and well for the services they provide to people.
As a result, The Norwegian Ministry of the Environment launched its “Water and Wetlands Initiative”. The overall goal of the initiative is to ensure maintenance and enhancement of wetland biodiversity and environmental goods and services for improved local livelihoods. The project objectives are to strengthen national and local capacity in ecosystem management and sustainable use of wetland biodiversity in developing countries. The project aims to achieve these objectives through promoting awareness of the values of wetlands and supporting the Ramsar-conventions in its work.
Project will work in close contact with government agencies in the field and relevant international organizations.
• Support a special report that will make visible the economic values of wetlands as a follow up of the The Economics of Ecosystems and Economics (TEEB). The special report, “TEEB for water and Wetlands” report will be launched at Rio + 20.
• Supporting the Ramsar Convention in financing suitable activities in the neediest areas of wetlands conservation and wise use in the EECCA-region. This contribution is also particularly helpful in promoting the Convention in the region.
• Promoting the sustainable use of wetlands through the Pan European Biodiversity and Landscape Diversity Strategy.
• Supporting the establishment of an expert group on maintaining the ability of biodiversity to continue to support the water cycle. The expert group will identify key policy-relevant messages for decision makers.
Norwegian EEA grants
Mangrove forest in Mozambique.(Trine Hay Setsaas)