IUCN Launches Alliance for Freshwater
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The Alliance is an interdisciplinary network of scientists, conservation professionals, educators, policy experts, creative practitioners, and citizens working to improve the conservation and sustainable use of freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity.

The Alliance published a paper titled, ‘A Global Call to Unite Efforts for Freshwater Biodiversity Science and Conservation,’ as a manifesto for positive action for freshwater biodiversity conservation and policy.

The paper outlines five key areas of work to be undertaken by the Alliance to raise the public and political profile of freshwater issues: research, data, conservation, education and outreach, and policy.

6 September 2018: The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has launched a global network aimed at halting and reversing the ongoing freshwater biodiversity loss crisis. Its core focus is to develop a global community of practice for freshwater biodiversity conservation in order to foster collaborations for the design and implementation of large‐scale conservation actions.

The ‘Alliance for Freshwater Life’ was launched by the IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit during the World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. The initiative is an interdisciplinary network of scientists, conservation professionals, educators, policy experts, creative practitioners, and citizens working to improve the conservation and sustainable use of freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity.

The Alliance published a paper titled, ‘A Global Call to Unite Efforts for Freshwater Biodiversity Science and Conservation,’ as a manifesto for positive action for freshwater biodiversity conservation and policy. The paper outlines the Alliance’s vision of a global collaboration between national and international organizations as well as individuals.

The publication notes that freshwater vertebrate populations have declined by more than 80% over the past 50 years, a rate of decline twice that recorded for either marine or terrestrial systems. According to the article, approximately one third of the 28,000 freshwater species assessed for the IUCN Red List are threatened with extinction, while an estimated three quarters of the world’s inland natural wetlands were lost during the 20th century.

The sacrifice of freshwater life as “collateral damage” in global development can result in the destruction of the very ecosystems required to support the development objectives.

The paper highlights that the SDGs include targets: to protect and restore water‐related ecosystems (Target 6.1); to ensure the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems, and their services (Target 15.1); and to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity, and protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species (Target 15.5). The targets are for delivery in 2030 (6.1) and, “alarmingly,” as early as 2020 (15.1 and 15.5).

The authors identify two key drivers of the ongoing crisis of freshwater biodiversity loss: the significant growth in global demand for water resources over the last century, which led to widespread freshwater habitat loss and degradation, water pollution, and over-abstractions; and the fact that existing environmental policies do not adequately protect freshwater biodiversity and ecosystems.

Noting that global demands for drinking water, hydropower, and agriculture will increase significantly in coming decades, the publication cautions that the “human valuation and usefulness” of freshwaters are often foregrounded in environmental policy, at the detriment of non-human life. The authors explain that this often leads to the sacrifice of freshwater life as “collateral damage” in global development, which can result in the destruction of the very ecosystems required to support the development objectives.

The paper outlines five key areas of work to be undertaken by the Alliance to raise the public and political profile of freshwater issues: research, data, conservation, education and outreach, and policy. Where policies are already in place, the authors note, such as the SDGs or the water‐related Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the Alliance will help to make available the relevant scientific knowledge and highlight the importance of functioning freshwater ecosystems for fulfilling other related SDGs, such as poverty alleviation (SDG 1). [IUCN Press Release] [Alliance for Freshwater Website] [A Global Call to Unite Efforts for Freshwater Biodiversity Science and Conservation]


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