Coalition of Governments Launches Freshwater Challenge to Restore 300,000km of Rivers and 350 Million Hectares of Wetlands by 2030 – A coalition of six governments has launched the Freshwater Challenge, an initiative to restore degraded rivers, lakes, and wetlands. The Freshwater Challenge is the largest ever restoration initiative and aims to restore 300,000 km of rivers and 350 million hectares of wetlands by 2030. The governments of Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Gabon, Mexico, and Zambia have championed the initiative and call on all governments to commit to clear targets in their updated National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, National Determined Contributions, and National Implementation Plan for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to urgently restore healthy freshwater ecosystems.
The Freshwater Challenge was announced at the UN Water Conference in New York and is a country-driven initiative with an inclusive, collaborative approach to implementation. The governments and their partners will co-create freshwater solutions with indigenous people, local communities, and other stakeholders. The initiative will focus on providing the evidence needed at the country level to effectively design and implement restoration measures, identify priority areas for restoration, update relevant national strategies and plans, and mobilize resources and set up financial mechanisms to implement the targets.
Protecting and Restoring Critical Ecosystems in the Face of Climate Chang
Healthy freshwater ecosystems provide a wealth of benefits to people and nature and are critical to mitigating and adapting to climate change and achieving the SDGs. Yet one-third of the world’s wetlands have been lost over the past 50 years, and rivers and lakes are the most degraded ecosystems in the world. The IPCC’s sixth assessment report released this week outlines the serious impacts of climate change on freshwater ecosystems, highlighting the need to protect and restore them to enhance adaptation and build resilient societies, economies, and ecosystems.
The Freshwater Challenge is in line with the Global Biodiversity Framework agreed in Montreal in December 2022, which included the restoration of 30% of the world’s degraded ‘inland waters,’ and it will contribute to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. The UN Decade is a drive to revive our planet, co-led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
An Inclusive Initiative to Restore Critical Ecosystems Supported by Global Partnerships
The Freshwater Challenge is supported by the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands, WWF, IUCN, The Nature Conservancy, Wetlands International, and ABinBev. Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director, said the Freshwater Challenge is a critical first step in bringing a much-needed focus on freshwater ecosystems. Stuart Orr, Freshwater Lead at WWF International, said the Freshwater Challenge puts the right goals and frameworks in place to benefit not only nature but also people across the world. He added that governments and partners need to commit to this urgently as part of the Water Action Agenda coming out of this UN conference.
The Freshwater Challenge is a commendable commitment by the governments of Colombia, DR Congo, Ecuador, Gabon, Mexico, and Zambia to restore degraded freshwater ecosystems. Freshwater ecosystems provide a wealth of benefits to people and nature, and restoring them is critical to mitigating and adapting to climate change and achieving the SDGs. The initiative is a critical first step in bringing a much-needed focus on freshwater ecosystems and provides an inclusive, collaborative approach to implementation.
Coalition of Governments Launches Freshwater Challenge to Restore 300,000km of Rivers and 350 Million Hectares of Wetlands by 2030