Delft, the Netherlands, 17 Oct 2013

If we are concerned about poverty, we are concerned about wetlands

Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The destruction of natural resources is usually felt most acutely by the poorest in society.

Wetlands Provide Livelihoods

"Many poor people in the world rely directly on wetland provisioning for their livelihoods", says UNESCO-IHE's Professor Ken Irvine of Aquatic Ecosystems"The degradation of wetlands likely leads directly to increased pressures on the poorest in society, and the destruction of natural resources is usually felt most acutely by the poorest in society." Watch more of his statement for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty in the video to the right.

Understanding links between wetlands and poverty alleviation

“Poverty has the highest levels among rural communities in the developing world, where people are more dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods than in urban areas. Wetland ecosystems are recognized as important ecosystems due to their provision of services that contribute to human well-being, and which often life-saving for the poor.

However, these ecosystems are continuously affected by human exploitation, which negatively influences their ecological health on the long-term and affects their ability to provide important services for people.

In order to be able to reduce the level of poverty among rural communities, particularly those are dependent on wetland and ensure sustainability of wetlands; a better understanding is needed on the linkages between wetland ecological health, poverty and poverty alleviation.”

This is quoted from the problem statement of Nikolett Czegledi’s research project report. Nikolett did an internship at UNESCO-IHE, and aimed to create a better understanding on the linkages between wetland ecological integrity (health), poverty and poverty alleviation in developing countries.

She concludes: “This exploratory study illustrated that linking ecosystem services and human well-being are generally well recognized, as well as the role of wetland ecological health to sustain the delivery of services. A healthy wetland, however, is not likely to be able to reduce the level of poverty. Furthermore, the definitions and indicators of poverty, human well-being and wetland ecological health may vary greatly, depending on location, cultural context, and scales, but may also be defined differently within one organization, varying from person to person.”


UNESCO-IHE is involved in the research project ECOLIVE. The overall objective of the project is to develop approaches for conserving papyrus wetlands so that their natural functions are protected while poor rural populations can rely on their livelihoods services.

The project will develop a transdisciplinary analytical framework that facilitates participation of stakeholders in development of sound policies for sustainable livelihoods in papyrus wetland ecosystems. New knowledge in an integrated framework will help to achieve policy goals of poverty reduction and ecosystem conservation.

TEEB for Water and Wetlands

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) for Water and Wetlands builds on approach to generate a better understanding of the ecosystem service values of water and wetlands and encourage improved decision making and business commitment for their conservation, investment and wise use. The primary objective of the report is to help identify major gaps and inconsistencies in current knowledge of the economics of water and wetlands, so as to inform agenda-setting for further work on the economics of water and wetlands.

The TEEB for Water and Wetlands report is available for download

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