Water and Wetlands: An Economic Perspective
Submitted by: Monalisa Detha
B.A. (Pass course)
2. The value of water and wetlands
3. Cost effectiveness of natural infrastructure
4. Status and trends of water bodies and wetlands
5. Economic benefits of restoration of degraded wetlands
6. Ways to improve water resource management
The “nexus” between water, food and energy is one of the most fundamental relationships and challenges for society. The importance of this nexus was re-emphasised at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012. The outcome document adopted at Rio+20 “The Future We Want” noted:
“We recognize the key role that ecosystems play in maintaining water quantity and quality and support actions within respective national boundaries to protect and sustainably manage these ecosystems”
UNCSD (2012, para. 122). Wetlands are a fundamental part of local and global water cycles and are at the heart of this nexus. We also expect wetlands to be key to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the future Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Wetlands are essential in providing water-related ecosystem services, such as clean water for drinking, water for agriculture, cooling water for the energy sector and regulating water quantity (e.g. flood regulation). In conjunction with their role in erosion control and sediment transport, wetlands also contribute to land formation and therefore resilience to storms. Moreover, they provide a wide range of services that are dependent on water, such as agricultural production, fisheries and tourism. Notwithstanding the high value of the ecosystem services that wetlands provide to humankind, wetlands continue to be degraded or lost due to the effects of intensive agricultural production, irrigation, water extraction for domestic and industrial use, urbanisation, infrastructure and industrial development and pollution. In many cases, policies and decisions do not take into account these interconnections and interdependencies sufficiently. However, the full value of water and wetlands needs to be recognised and integrated into decision making in order to meet our future social, economic and environmental needs. Using the maintenance and enhancement of the benefits of water and wetlands is, therefore, a key element in a transition to a green economy.
Wetlands: A definition
Wetlands are areas where the water table is at or near the surface level, or the land is covered by shallow water. The Ramsar Convention defines wetlands as:
“areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres”
“may incorporate riparian and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six metres at low tide lying within the wetlands” The Ramsar Classification of Wetland Types includes 42 types of wetlands, which belong to one of the three broad categories: • Inland wetlands;
• Marine/coastal wetlands;
• Human-made wetlands.
Human-made wetlands covered by the Ramsar Convention include aquaculture, farm ponds, and permanently or temporarily inundated agricultural land - such as rice paddies, salt pans, reservoirs, gravel pits, sewage farms and canals. There are a range of other wetland classifications used for different purposes, based on hydrogeomorphology and/or vegetation characteristics, such as : • Marine (coastal wetlands, including coastal lagoons, rocky shores and coral reefs); • Estuarine (including deltas, tidal marshes, and mangrove swamps); •...
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