Inland Waters Biodiversity - Current Activities

The year 2010 marked the in-depth review of the programme of work, considered initially at SBSTTA-14. COP-10 subsequently recognized water as the primary global natural resource challenge and a key natural resource link between the various Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). COP-10 also noted that water is the key mechanism through which the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, and people, are felt and therefore the key link between biodiversity, climate change and desertification. Water provisioning, regulation and purification are critically important services provided by ecosystems, underpinned by biodiversity, and essential to sustainable development. These are essential for the continued functioning of terrestrial, inland and coastal ecosystems and the existence of biodiversity within these.

Notably, it is not just inland water ecosystems (wetlands) that play a role, but the water cycle is also sustained by terrestrial ecosystems; for example, forests play a key role in water supply. SBSTTA determined that these linkages provided a clear scientific and technical basis to strengthen attention to water across all relevant interests and programmes of work of the Convention. COP-10 responded by incorporating water more explicitly in the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011-2020) and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets, noting in particular the paramount importance of water with regards to target 14.

Decision X/XXVIII on inland waters was also significant for recognizing the role of biodiversity and ecosystems in providing services that reduce risks and vulnerability to the impact of some natural disasters, in particular water-related impacts such as flooding and drought. This more explicit recognition of the role of biodiversity in water provisioning, regulation and purification, and hence sustaining water resources, provides a key opportunity to make the Convention more directly relevant to a broader range of stakeholders, including political, public, economic, development and urban interests. Better management of ecosystems has a lot to offer in terms of increased water security for both ecosystems and people. The emphasis of the COP-10 decision therefore centres on how biodiversity can contribute to achieving sustainable development in this primary natural resources challenge area.