We proudly present our new 10-year Strategic Intent (2011-2020). While our organisation remains grounded within both the conservation and humanitarian sectors, we are broadening our focus on wetland and climate change issues. Also new is our emphasis on the economic sectors driving wetland loss and the potential to utilize some of these for conservation and restoration.
The new strategy identifies four priority areas. These are:
- human well-being and local livelihoods
- conserving biodiversity
- sustaining the water cycle
- reducing climate change and its impacts
Continue our work on both nature and humanitarian issues
Our focus on humanitarian as well as nature issues provides our organisation with its rather unique position. A good example of this is the partnership with Red Cross, Cordaid, Care and the Red Cross Climate Centre to increase the resilience of local people to disasters, including those caused by a changing climate. In nine project areas in Asia, Africa and Central America, we are conserving and restoring wetlands that have a role in coastal defense and in storing and regulating excess rainwater, so reducing the incidence and intensity of flood and drought hazards.
Focus on climate change mitigation
The explicit focus on climate change is new in our strategy. Building on a strong base of knowledge on the significant carbon emissions due to drainage of wetland peatsoils, we commit ourselves to preventing the emissions of at least 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the coming five years. We will do this by conserving carbon-dense mangrove forests and peatswamps; from Patagonia to Russia. In addition, we advocate for policies that prevent further conversion of these areas.
Greening the economy
While we continue our work on wetland areas specifically, we see the increasing need to work on greening relevant sectors of the economy. For example, while continuing our work on conserving and restoring peatswamp forest areas in Southeast Asia, we also see the urgency of greening the palm oil sector, one of the main drivers for peatswamp loss in Indonesia and Malaysia. Greening various industry sectors is now a clearly recognised area of our overall strategy. On a range of products, we now work on improvement of the industry standards to reduce wetland loss.
From field level to international conventions
Our strategy describes clearly our way of working, as developed in the past years. For the change we aim for, we mobilise knowledge and work at the field level with local partners. We use the know-how developed in the field for national and international agenda-setting and advocacy for better policies.
Different regional focuses
The implementation of our strategy will differ from region to region, according to differences in wetland threats and opportunities. In South Asia, China and Africa we will focus strongly on sustaining wetlands as natural infrastructure in water management in key catchments.
In Southeast Asia, Russia and Argentina, we will work on conserving peatland areas in line with our ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Our ambition of supporting local peoples by maintaining the health of wetlands will be implemented by a wide portfolio of initiatives. Examples are our work on saving and restoring mangrove coasts in Africa, Central America and Asia, our work on Sahelian wetlands, and our work in the Himalayan peat-marshes with Tibetan herdsmen.
We will strengthen our work in the European region and aim to enhance the connectivity of this with other regions, for example through influencing development aid. For example, we will aim to bring our wetland expertise to influence and improve the effectiveness of water management within Europe and to reduce the impacts on wetlands of developments aimed to meet Europe’s biofuel demands.
Conserving wetland biodiversity and bringing forward policy-relevant wetland knowledge, are cross-cutting elements of all our activities.