On 22 October 2020, Plan Bleu and ETC-UMA co-organised the “Healthy wetlands: Our best natural answer to the biodiversity, water and climate crises: The Mediterranean case” online conference within the framework of the EU Green Week 2020. This open webinar was the first capitalisation event of the Interreg MED Mediterranean Biodiversity Protection Community (MBPC) project led by the European Topic Centreof the University of Malaga, Spain (ETC-UMA), and was attended by the MBPC’s POSBEMED2, TUNE UP and WETNET projects. The webinar gathered international experts and EU policy representatives to highlight the status of wetlands in policy and research, and the pressing need for agreements and actions to protect and sustainably use wetland habitats. It also showcased European projects’ regional efforts to develop tools and solutions to achieve these objectives in Mediterranean wetlands.
According to Dania Abdul Malak, Director of ETC-UMA and co-author of the recently published EC Science to Policy Report (JRC, 2020), “wetlands are the most degraded ecosystem in Europe”. Moreover: Moreover:
- 1. Wetlands are in a very poor condition due to the lack of proper definition and classification
- 2. Knowledge gaps on wetlands still exist
- 3. A coherent EU policy framework for wetlands is lacking and urgently needed
Anne Teller (EU DG Environment) and Florian Claeys (EU DG Clima) argued that wetlands play a central role in multiple EU Green Deal initiatives and in achieving its climate neutrality, biodiversity, zero-pollution, flood protection and circular economy objectives. To this end, an EU definition of wetlands is necessary to foster an integrated policy approach in line with the EU Green Deal and to create win-win situations ranging from the local to EU levels, as highlighted by Tobias Salathé(Senior Advisor to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands).
Indeed, authorities at all levels must make concrete commitments to support the wetlands agenda by developing both local and national management plans, according to François Guerquin, Director of the Plan Bleu. At a broader level, Jean Jalbert(Director, Tour du Valat) pointed out that wetlands are often considered wastelands, whereas they actually provide more services than any other ecosystem on Earth. This simple fact urgently needs to be better communicated to decision-makers in order to address some of the most pressing issues of our time, such as climate change, water provisioning, health, food security and disaster risk reduction.
You can find additional information about this eventhere. The webinar conclusions and main recommendations are available here.
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