Side event details
Wetlands are valuable water sources that have multiple functions and services. The wetland ecosystems are an integral part of river basins and catchments having their unique hydrological cycle providing water for drinking, space for food production, a medium for water and soil purification, a sink for carbon storage, and habitats for biodiversity among a host of other benefits. Although many conservation efforts have been launched, over the years, in conjunction with global and national policies and guidance documents, countries still struggle to conserve wetlands and degradation continues to occur at a rapid rate, especially in urban and peri-urban environments. It is increasingly clear that multi-pronged efforts are a pre-requisite for successful conservation. This side event aligns with this year’s theme “Wetland actions for people and nature” which specifically calls for community action to protect and use wetlands wisely.
Communities are an integral part of all wetlands. While their actions may contribute to the degradation of wetlands, best practices of communities can also contribute positively to the ecological functions of wetlands, simultaneously conserving biodiversity and enhancing livelihood resilience. These are often small-scale and occur at the local level and rarely get much attention. However, there is a growing body of evidence that these practices can be upscaled and aligned with national policies for greater impact. Cobra Collective, UK and the International Water Management Institute have been documenting these best practices in the form of participatory videos from countries like Guyana, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, and Suriname, where communities themselves identify and share their experiences, knowledge, and best practice. In all of these examples, the governments have shown a keen interest as they see the potential of operationalising citizen science and best practice management activities. Where institutions lack personpower for monitoring and management activities it is seen as a viable option for launching sustainable programs, particularly through community biodiversity, flooding, and pollution monitoring via mobile apps and through the sharing of effective community management approaches that build livelihood and community resilience whilst protecting biodiversity and vital wetland functioning.
The session will showcase community best practices from across countries, in the form of participatory videos, and use this platform to collect similar case studies to develop a compendium of community wetland actions. There will be 2-3 presentations to set the stage for sharing experiences followed by a panel discussion to answer questions on “how community best practices can be made more effective and integrated with government initiatives”?
A Panel Discussion
Panelists: Matthew Simpson (Cobra Collective, UK), James Dalton (IUCN), Manjula Amararatne (Department of Wildlife Conservation), Ritesh Kumar (Wetland International), and Chaturangi Wickramaratne (IWMI)
Moderator: Radheeka Jirasinghe (IWMI)