Freshwater ecosystems and rainforests are the world’s most biologically diverse terrestrial environments. They play an essential role in sustaining the global
water cycle, the carbon cycle, and nutrient cycles.
Conserving these ecosystems must be at the heart of an integrated approach to water management and sustainable development. Ecosystems provide benefits to society and economies and render multiple services essential for increasing water security. They provide natural freshwater storage, regulate flows, purify water, replenish groundwater, modulate climate, protect soils, and reduce the risks of water-related disasters. They provide water for crops and fisheries, employment, and support navigation, recreation, and tourism.
But ecosystems continue to be degraded and lost as populations grow and the demand for water intensive goods and services increases. This impacts on both water availability and water quality. We need to better understand the role that ecosystem services play in supporting sustainable economic growth and development. We must take into account their real value when assessing trade-offs between food, energy, cities and industry, and nature, especially when water is scarce and the climate is changing.
In partnership with key agencies we will continue to advocate at all levels that natural ecosystems are a vital and integral part of sustainable economic growth
and development. We will support countries to identify and evaluate policy and management options for sustaining ecosystem services (harmonising them with
human needs), and help build capacity to sustainably manage these invaluable resources.