The report titled “How Can Water have a Positive Impact on Climate Change?” was launched in December 2015 during the highly successful climate change conference COP21 in Paris, and was the result of a collaborative process between scientists of the Ramsar Convention, the Water Institute by Evian and the Livelihoods Carbon Funds.
It urges and encourages civil society and governments to take even more action to protect natural resources around the world.
To protect wetlands, a crucial challenge to mitigate and adapt to the impact of climate change
Mangroves are increasingly recognized for storing large amounts of carbon below ground in their roots, often for very long periods of time.
Water circulates around the earth and within its atmosphere through the water cycle. Wetlands such as lakes, rivers, ground water aquifers, mangroves and peatlands are an integral part of this natural flow. The latter two types of wetland are especially important for carbon storage: peatlands are estimated to cover only 3% of the total land surface area of the earth, but recent studies suggest they store twice as much carbon as all the forests in the world. In addition, mangroves are increasingly recognized for storing large amounts of carbon below ground in their roots, often for very long periods of time, while also rendering several other services both to mankind and the environment.
“Water forms an essential part of the answer to climate challenge. This is the entire focus of this joint publication, which is a review of knowledge about the essential links between water and climate,” said Véronique Penchienati, President Evian Volvic World. “It investigates in greater depth this uncommon though very real assertion: namely that water forms part of the solution for combating climate change. With this strong conviction Evian is taking measures to protect natural water resources here and elsewhere, for example by entering into a partnership with the Ramsar Convention and by replanting over 130 million trees thanks to an international mangrove restauration program alongside the Livelihoods Carbon Funds.”
Unfortunately, despite the importance of wetlands for water, 64% or more of the world’s wetlands have been destroyed since 1900, mostly due to urban development and agriculture. 65 million hectares of peatlands have been degraded. In addition, the availability of water itself is under threat, as it has been over-used, polluted and diverted, often with terrible effects on people and ecosystems.
The involvement of the civil society, an essential part of the solution to address global change
The report proposes a range of possible actions to help water managers and decision-makers increase resilience in the face of the ongoing changes. These measures include, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation:
- Restoring mangroves as they protect shorelines from erosion, sea-level rise as well as reducing salinization of upstream soils, surface and ground water
- Designing and adopting policies that take into account the active management of the water cycle as a whole
- Water recycling or artificially recharging aquifers to reduce pressure on fresh water resources
- Adopting farming methods that ensure the management and restoration of soil carbon
- Identifying ecosystems with a high potential for carbon sequestration – such as wetlands -and taking steps to ensure they are protected.
“Climate change and its impact on water is a very real and current threat to life. The realization that water also provides a channel to mitigate and adapt to climate change is a reminder to us that nature already offers ready-made solutions. Our role is to preserve, restore and wisely use wetlands that manage water. The report How can water have a positive impact on climate change? is both timely and needed. It provides the scientific evidence to back decisions and actions towards a low carbon future,” said Ania Grobicki, Acting Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
Article issued from Ramsar Secretariat