Another Drop 2017
The United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) is pleased to invite you to its next free, public lecture!
From the Age of Carbon to the Age of Water - The Role of Wetlands
We are currently living in the age of carbon. Yes, carbon provides the infrastructure of living creatures, the building blocks of life. Our problem is that our economies are currently designed around carbon, from the fossil fuels that power transport and agriculture, to the ubiquitous plastics and chemicals, many of which are also derived from oil. We are now starting to see the consequences of carbon emissions, leading to climate change. In 2015, at the climate change summit in Paris, almost all countries agreed to take steps to decarbonise their economies and reduce emissions.
Water is the sustaining flow that supports life. But our understanding of the vital role of water is still in its infancy, and the agreements, laws and policies governing water are equally weak. We need to realise that at the same time as carbon emissions are warming the planet, the global water cycle and local water cycles are changing and speeding up. The land masses are losing water, and wetlands are being lost and degraded, while atmospheric moisture and sea levels are rising. We need to be much more aware of where the water is currently located and stored, where it is moving to, and where it needs to be.
We need to safeguard the water that sustains our economies, in terms of drinking water supply, irrigation for agriculture, water for industrial processes and energy generation. And we also need to safeguard the water that sustains nature, its glorious biodiversity, and its complex functions and processes which are essential for life on this planet. Wetlands provide the vital link, wherever the water meets the land. In many places, wetlands are at risk either from human decisions or from climate change. Water-related disasters, such as droughts, floods, and coastal storm surges, are becoming increasingly frequent and severe. However, I will show examples of how wetlands can help to reduce disaster risks. More research will help us understand all the multiple services that wetlands provide, and a better understanding of global and local water cycles will lead to better water management. It’s time to move away from the age of carbon, towards the age of water.