As the Conservation Programme Manager for South Asia, I represented Wetlands International at the 11th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Hyderabad, India that concluded on October 20, 2012. Going from one side event to the other, either presenting or joining discussion panels, this conference in my home country was a very satisfying experience for me. With you, I’d like to share several positive outcomes and actions:
Stronger focus on conserving water and wetlands
At COP 11 the countries agreed to make water and biodiversity a cross-cutting theme. This important step will strengthen collective global action on behalf of wetlands conservation and wise use. Despite underpinning the successful delivery of several Aichi targets, the focus on water and wetlands within the CBD had been rather low to date, and fragmented – this decision puts ecosystems at the forefront of meeting the targets.
Increased funding to protect biodiversity
The world’s governments agreed to increase funding in support of actions to halt the rate of biodiversity loss. Developed countries agreed to double their funding to support efforts in developing countries towards meeting the Aichi targets and Strategic Plan for biodiversity. While the additional $5 billion a year is less than what is needed to protect biodiversity, it is an important step in the right direction.
Consultation draft of TEEB Water and Wetlands released
As a member of the team of experts that prepared the report (along with IEEP, the Ramsar and CBD Secretariats and IUCN) and a member of the core group of the TEEB project, this was a highlight for me. The report presents economic evidences of costs and benefits of ecosystem service values of water and wetlands. Presenting it for the audience, I felt that the message of the rapid loss of wetlands, leading to biodiversity loss and challenges for sustaining well-being, was picked up with interest by the participants as well as the media.
Successful Side event on Water, Wetlands and Aichi Targets
My own organisation, Wetlands International South Asia, hosted a successful side event on the need for stronger action on realising the connections between water, wetlands and biodiversity. The event focused on practical mechanisms thatcould bring closer cooperation between the wetland and water management sectors to achieve the goals set under the Aichi targets. The participants at the well-attended event made a strong case for considering the full range of values of wetlands, particularly the possibilities for integrating these ecosystems as natural infrastructure for various objectives, such as the provisioning of freshwater, buffering of extreme events, etc.
Outcome for wetlands
Now that it’s over, I am heartened going forward that the outcomes of the COP provide renewed opportunities for promoting conservation and the wise use of wetlands through actions related to National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (NBSAPs), Strategic Environmental Assessments, the designation of Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs), and several other tools. For my own work, this means that we can look forward to increased resource availability, especially at national level for undertaking wetland conservation programmes.