The rights of wetlands in the context of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services: biodiversity loss and threats to human well-being

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M. Siobhan Fennessy

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Wetland biodiversity is declining in every region of the world, significantly reducing the provision of benefits that contribute to human well-being. The Americas Regional Assessment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) details the critical relationship between biodiversity, ecosystems, and the ability of nature to provide benefits, while recognizing a diversity of world views and multiple values of nature. The Americas are diverse, hosting 40% of the world’s most biodiverse countries with three times more “biocapacity” per capita than the global average. However, the increasing demand for food, water, and other material goods has increased consumption and intensified land use, continuing a pattern of widespread degradation and destruction of wetlands with regional wetland losses ranging from 20-60% of total wetland area since 1970. The result is the loss of the benefits wetlands provide to food and water supplies, climate regulation, and adaptation to hazardous and extreme events, with a 50% decline in the freshwater supply per person. Overall, there has been a substantial decline in nature’s contribution to people (NCP, a broader term than ecosystem services). Of the 18 NCP evaluated across different wetland types, 66% are in decline, with 30% declining strongly. The intrinsic value of nature is at the heart of the IPBES framework, recognizing the links between biodiversity, nature’s contributions to people, and quality of life, with efforts to incorporate local and indigenous knowledge. The declaration of wetlands rights reflects this, acknowledging the importance of wetlands as a universal heritage.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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