As our Brand Promise states: Wetlands International is “driven by the knowledge that safeguarding and restoring wetlands is urgent and vital for water security, biodiversity, climate regulation, sustainable development and human health”. We aim to stop the degradation of wetlands and to maximise benefits to people and nature through wetland conservation, restoration and wise use. One implication of our work being “urgent and vital” is that we need to scale up our impact from projects to programmes and from sites to whole landscapes and basins. We also need to better connect our work that has formerly been led under separate programmes e.g. on climate, water, livelihoods and biodiversity. This means being sure to focus in the right places, work at the right scales and with the right partners.
For example, degradation of wetlands intensifies the impact of droughts in water scarce regions and to address this, we often need to influence water allocation decisions at the basin scale as well as enable local communities to manage the wetlands nearby. To take our results to a regional scale, we influence relevant development and climate policies and strategies. As aid and trade investments have a massive impact on wetlands in developing countries, our network of offices increasingly work in concert to achieve this, to bring our local evidence to bear on national and international policy frameworks and standards.
In striving to increase our impact, we find ourselves more and more in a brokering role – convening new alliances to connect the technical knowledge, resources and commitment of different sectoral players to design and implement innovative solutions. In these tough economic times it is also important to be able to quantify the benefits of wetlands to society, including in economic terms. We will therefore in 2014 increase our emphasis on working with ecosystem services in a coherent, credible and communicable way. Advances in information technology and mapping using satellite data are also transforming the way we work. In 2014, we will step up our collaboration with other organisations, to bring together information on the status and values of wetlands in a way that can support policy processes and decision making at various geographic scales. In this way we will help to guide decisions affecting key wetland habitats, such as peatlands, floodplains and mangroves.
Our plans for 2014 include the “what, where and how” of the critical next steps towards achieving our long term ambitions according to five main themes: Coastal Resilience, Community Resilience, Wetlands as natural water infrastructure, Climate-smart landscapes for high carbon wetlands, and Migratory birds, connecting people and nature along flyways. The re-framing of our focus links well to our track record and innovations and communicates more clearly to the different stakeholders that are most relevant to our work. It is entirely consistent with the direction and targets of our Strategic Intent 2011-2020.
Our priorities reflect some significant developments in the external environment. For example our focus on bringing in an ecosystem approach to build coastal and community “resilience” responds to the increased societal emphasis on tackling risks: disaster risk reduction, improving water security and protecting vulnerable coasts. Equally, the dialogue around the “water, food, energy nexus” has opened up opportunities to engage with business on water governance and water sharing principles and practice. We highlight the role of wetlands as both the source and sink of water and promote the business case for investing in wetlands as “natural water infrastructure”.
Wetlands International has a compelling agenda for action and with the support of our partners, members and supporters, we will make some big strides in 2014.