Natural and man-made disasters have increased exponentially over the past few decades and are expected to increase further due to climate related extreme weather and due to the loss of wetlands and forests. This affects in particular the poorest people in the poorest countries. The conservation and restoration of ecosystems such as forests and wetlands plays an essential role in reducing disaster risk such as floods, droughts and storms.
The role of ecosystems needs to be far better recognised and integrated in disaster risk reduction by decision-makers and humanitarian and development organisations that work on this.
Our aim is to demonstrates the role of wetlands in enhancing resilience against disasters through some long-term projects in mountain, arid and coastal areas and by means of advocacy at global, national and local levels.
In mountain areas – such as the Himalayas – climate change is leading to more extreme rainfall and melting of glaciers. As a consequence, hazardous floods can occur downstream. Wetlands reduce peak flooding as marshes and lakes store more water than any other natural features.
Population growth and more demand for water is increasing water shortages. In arid regions, climate change will make droughts and water shortages more extreme. Rising temperatures and declining rainfall may create additional water stress. As a result, food production and water availability may drop. The sponge-like ability of wetlands to retain water when all other areas are dry makes them a vital lifeline in arid regions and in periods of extreme droughts.
In coastal areas, climate change is leading to sea level rise and increased storm intensity. Coastal wetlands such as mangrove forests, marshes and coral reefs can serve as natural buffers and reduce the impacts of waves and storms. Furthermore, they can help adapt to some extent with sea level rise by accumulating silt, preventing erosion and salt water intrusion.
What we do
We believe sustaining and restoring wetlands is a cost-effective strategy for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, with strong benefits for poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation. To promote these ambitions, we aim to:
- Implement field level projects to work with communities on safer environment via wetland restoration.
- Develop and share our practical experience and knowledge on the role that specific wetlands play in mitigating water related extremes.
- Advocate to governments, development organisations and finance institutions to support wetland restoration and conservation.
We work with four Netherlands-based humanitarian, development and environment organisations (CARE Nederland, Cordaid, the Netherlands Red Cross, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre) to strenghten the resilienc of people through strenghtening community resilience, empowering civil society and policy dialogue. View our joint publications:
Video: How to stop sand in Inner Niger Delta
Sobé and other villages in the Mali Inner Niger Delta are threatened by the desert's sand which is coming also in the Debo Lake. Communities are forced to rebuild their homes every two years to avoid burial by sand dunes. To address this scourge, Wetlands International works in a consortium of partners to undertake dune stabilization.