Water related disasters are increasing worldwide. From extreme floods to severe droughts most of us have some experience.
Even if we have not yet personally experienced these disasters, most of us have heard about water shortages, food scarcity and climate related disasters. We know that they are real dilemmas that many people are facing right now and which most families will be affected by, unless the fundamental causes for them are addressed effectively.
“Climate change, environmental degradation, population increase, rapid urbanization and industrialization and increasing poverty make societies more vulnerable to disasters.”
In these present times there seem to be too many new environmental and social crises occurring for us to be able to properly address any one of them.
We succeed in partially addressing one and a new one rapidly arises. These indicate that a fundamental change of attitude is needed. It seems that a major part of this negative feedback loop is the way in which, we consider the environmental systems of Earth. All too often we divide interdependent natural systems up into different categories (e.g. food, water, forest, mountains, wetlands, wildlife, climate etc.) and we relate to them as if they are separate or only distantly related. We often treat an issue such as water security as if we could address it simply by devising better ways of managing, harvesting, cleaning and storing freshwater and reducing waste. However, for freshwater to be available, it is dependent upon many different ecological factors, which impact upon and regulate one another.
Because subjects such as water, food, climate and forests are often limited to the confines of different categories, it is very hard to get cohesive correlation between specialist information in each area.
This makes it much harder and more complicated to really address a situation and really get to the root of the problem. Many present global problems would be far easier to address if the rigid divisions between different categories were broadened to include recognition of the nexus and interdependent ecological dynamics that truly exist. This way we would be able to plan sustainable development strategies much more effectively through supporting interconnected ecosystems in performing their natural functions and benefiting from the wide range of life supporting services that they provide.
Evidence clearly shows that mixed forests not only play a major role in the functioning of both water and carbon cycles, which are the regulators of climate and weather systems globally; they also have a significant impact upon global food security.
“Forests perform vital ecosystem services, including the regulation of the water and carbon cycles and protection of biodiversity, that are essential to sustainable food production and food security and nutrition in the long term.”
Download: FAO, HLPE Report, 2017.pdf
It is time we work with nature to address the common obstacles facing all life on Earth. Through working together and adopting natural solutions, many of the environmental dilemmas that humanity is presently facing, could be effectively resolved. In the case of long-term reliable water management and disaster mitigation, acknowledgement of the essential role of mixed forests and biodiversity and ways of protecting and restoring it is imperative.
The natural world has adapted in so many astounding ways throughout millions of years to address on going obstacles and succeeded against so many almost insurmountable odds. Now we need to help it
In September 2015 the new Sustainable Development paper called ‘Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ was endorsed by world governments. Within it Goal 6 states: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” It was recognised in Target 6.6 of Goal 6 that protecting and restoring water related ecosystems would be necessary for realising this Goal.
“By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes” Download: UN, Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,2015.pdf
In accord with Target 6.6 and as a way of safeguarding the global water cycle and addressing the problems of deforestation, we recently wrote a Report for the UNFCCC on how to use traditional indigenous knowledge practises along with permaculture techniques for climate adaptation.
Recognising that achieving fresh water security is central to national and international security, it should therefore be included as a crucial element within any long-term global defence strategies. This needs to include protecting and restoring the ecosystems, which are essential for rebalancing and maintaining the entire global water cycle.
“Ensuring that ecosystems are protected and conserved is central to achieving water security – both for people and for nature. Ecosystems are vital to sustaining the quantity and quality of water available within a watershed, on which both nature and people rely. Maintaining the integrity of ecosystems is essential for supporting the diverse needs of humans, and for the sustainability of ecosystems, including protecting the water- provisioning services they provide.”