This year’s theme of World Wetlands Day on February 2nd focussed on the role of healthy wetlands and how they help us cope with extreme weather events and disasters. With 90% of disasters being water-related, wetlands as water regulators and buffers, have a key role to play.
Ecoshape member organisation Wetlands International organised awareness raising events in Kenya, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Panama, Brussels and Geneva which featured how sustainable wetlands management can contribute towards more resilient development. It was emphasized that action needs to be taken not only in wetland sites, but across whole landscapes in land and water use planning and agricultural systems.
One of the key conclusions is that many of the disasters are essentially man-made, due to poor development planning and/or poor preparedness and response systems. With rising disaster risks, fundamental change is needed. There is especially a need to consider infrastructure in its’ widest interpretation – the full range from hard to soft – recognizing that different combinations are needed in different situations.