World Water Day is celebrated every year on 22 March, with this year’s theme being ‘Accelerating Change.’ The theme emphasizes the urgent need to take action to solve the water and sanitation crisis. Fortunately, wetlands provide a vital solution to this challenging crisis. These ecosystems play a crucial role in providing and purifying water, making them an effective nature-based solution.
This article discusses the importance of wetlands in providing and purifying water, their role as a source of water, and how they can be protected and restored to address the global water crisis.
Wetlands are the main source of freshwater for many communities around the world. They also play a crucial role in regulating water quality, capturing and retaining pollutants, and recycling nutrients. Unfortunately, wetlands are under threat, and their decline is rapid worldwide. Human needs often compete with the environmental needs of wetlands, leading to increasingly rare and poor-quality water resources.
Despite the vital roles they play, 48% of Mediterranean wetlands have been lost since 1970. To address pollution and cleanup freshwater sources, wetlands must be integrated into development plans and resource management. When healthy, wetlands have a rich natural diversity of plants that can remove sediment, nutrients, and pollutants from water.
To help restore and manage wetlands, a new handbook entitled “Restoring Mediterranean Wetlands: The new policymaker’s playbook for sustainable management and ecosystem restoration by 2030” has been published. The handbook provides guidance to policymakers in developing and implementing wetland restoration initiatives. It contains tools, methodologies, and checklists for planners to ensure they have considered everything that needs to happen before, during, and after any wetland restoration project.
Effective laws and regulations play a crucial role in protecting and restoring wetlands and ensuring sustainable water management. The European Commission’s proposal for a Nature Restoration Law, which aims to restore degraded ecosystems in the European Union, is now being reviewed by the European Parliament and the Council for final approval in July 2023. It is a timely reminder of the importance of legal frameworks in promoting wetland conservation and restoration.
As we celebrate World Water Day, it is essential to recognize the need for strong legal frameworks to safeguard our water resources and ecosystems. By working together to secure support to the adoption, implementation and enforcement of these laws, we can ensure the long-term health and resilience of our wetlands and water systems, securing a sustainable future for generations to come.
Furthermore, policymakers have at their disposal the policy paper entitled “Mediterranean Wetland Restoration: An Urgent Priority”. The paper provides valuable insights into the current status of wetlands in the Mediterranean and the threats they face, and proposes an integrated approach to wetland restoration. It emphasizes the urgent need for coordinated action to restore Mediterranean wetlands and provides tools, methodologies, and checklists for planners. The policy paper is part of the Wetland-based Solutions project, which aims to enhance the conservation of coastal wetlands in the Mediterranean Basin, and it was supported by the MAVA Foundation.
The use of resources like this policy paper can pave the way for a sustainable future through the development and implementation of wetland restoration initiatives by policymakers.
In conclusion, wetlands are a nature solution to the water crisis. Maintaining healthy wetlands secures a reliable water supply for humans, fauna and flora. We must act now to protect and restore wetlands to ensure a sustainable future. Let us all play our part in accelerating change and safeguarding our planet’s most precious resource: water.