strategy

Protecting aquatic ecosystems

Context:
Terrestrial ecosystems are all water dependent, although water provides different functions - if not as habitat, then as a matrix, nutrient carrier and cooler. The river flow needed for healthy riverine ecosystems is often known and referred to as "environmental flow". The water needs of most other ecosystems is less well known. Seen from a global perspective, the terrestrial ecosystems in the temperate and tropical zones represent massive consumptive water use, representing almost 90 percent of the whole evapotranspiration (or "green water" flow) from the continents. Seen from a catchment perspective, protection of ecosystem water needs basically demands a sharing of the precipitation over the catchment between humans and ecosystems. At the smaller scale, management of ecosystem water needs tends to be "place-based" and linked to endemic species, biodiversity etc.

This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.

Facilitated by:
Financing water research
Training in water management
Monitoring use of agrochemicals
Applying polluter-pays principle
Identifying rare aquatic species
Ensuring integrity of water wells
Monitoring water pollution sources
Controlling noxious aquatic species
Setting standards for water quality
Establishing water monitoring networks
Rehabilitating important catchment areas
Using treated waste water for agriculture
Expanding laws to control spills in water
Developing biotechnology for waste treatment
Controlling water quality for inland fisheries
Strengthening national water research networks
Expanding education on water quality protection
Recycling municipal waste water and solid waste
Increasing integrated management of water resources
Using risk assessment techniques for decision-making
Establishing protected areas in groundwater recharge
Preventing pollution of aquifers by toxic substances
Avoiding diffuse pollution of agricultural chemicals
Using traditional methods for water pollution control
Developing biotechnology for production of fertilizers
Using precautionary approach to minimize water pollution
Using best practicable technology for managing landfills
Expanding North-South twinning of water research centres
Increasing cooperative research projects on water quality
Improving ability to identify potential water supply sources
Using agricultural practices that do not degrade groundwater
Mitigating salt water intrusion into aquifers on small islands
Strengthening local authority capabilities on water protection
Rehabilitating agricultural lands for agricultural productivity
Improving national capabilities for the protection of water quality
Monitoring water quality threatened by toxic materials storage sites
Improving land use practices to prevent land degradation and erosion
Strengthening legal requirements for environmental impact assessments
Preparing national plans for water resource protection and conservation
Improving laws to control long range atmospheric transport of pollutants
Strengthening laws on pollution monitoring of national and transboundary waters
Requiring environmental assessment of development projects likely to affect water quality
Controlling industrial effluents with precautionary measures based on life-cycle analysis
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 6: Clean Water and SanitationGOAL 15: Life on Land