How can we ensure water security for all?

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Courtesy of Wetlands International

Wetlands International will be speaking about this issue at the upcoming Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. The Clinton Global Initiative was established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton to convene global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. This year’s Annual Meeting will take place on 26-29 September in New York.

Water scarcity and wetlands

We all depend on water and yet we use it, waste it and degrade it without realising its true value. Globally, 750 million people do not have access to safe drinking water, and demand for water for food and energy production is increasing as populations grow. As water scarcity intensifies over the coming decade, the competition for freshwater will be one of the biggest global challenges we face. At the same time, the risk of devastating floods is increasing and will further intensify due to climate change. A joined up approach between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors is urgently needed.

Wetlands such as peatlands, river floodplains, lakes, deltas and estuaries are natural water infrastructure that store and regulate water supplies, helping to reduce the risk of floods and droughts. Despite the vital role of wetlands more than 64% of the world´s wetlands have been lost since 1900 and many others are heavily degraded. We work worldwide with local communities, governments and the private sector to conserve and recover wetlands as part of the solution to improved water security.

We have put our wetland-based approach into practice in river and lake basins in Kenya, Uganda, Mali, Senegal and India. We bring together the knowledge of key partners to map and assess water risks and the role of wetland ecosystems in the landscape. By empowering local groups to use evidence-based arguments, we influence policies and enable informed choices about land use, water distribution and infrastructure investments. As a result, water-related disasters risks are reduced and sufficient clean water is accessible to downstream communities.

Wetlands International at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting

Our CEO, Jane Madgwick, will be on the panel for a session on water scarcity, “From the Wetlands to the Water Glass”, on Monday 28 September, at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting. During the session she will emphasize the essential role of wetlands for storing and regulating water, as well as calling on businesses, governments and civil society to reinstate wetlands as key, natural infrastructure to improve access to clean water and reduce the risks of floods and droughts.

Wetlands International has been a member of CGI since 2011. A defining feature of CGI is Commitments to Action, which set out a member´s plans to tackle important global issues. Over the last five years, we have made two Commitments to Action: ‘Securing Wetlands Carbon Stores for Climate’ and ‘Restoring Vulnerable Coasts for Economic and Ecosystem Value’.

During the CGI 2015 Annual Meeting there will be an announcement about a further Commitment on water scarcity and disaster risk reduction. We will be posting updates about it here and on Facebook and Twitter.

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