WEF 2020 GLOBAL RISK REPORT: Biodiversity

According to the World Economic Forum's 2020 Global Risk Report: The Forum’s multistakeholder network rate “biodiversity loss” as the second most impactful and third most likely risk for the next decade. The current rate of extinction is tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10 million years—and it is accelerating. Biodiversity loss has critical implications for humanity, from the collapse of food and health systems to the disruption of entire supply chains.

IHE Delft works on research and capacity development projects, and provides teaching and professional development, on a wide range of issues related to biodiversity. For example:



Ken Irvine Professor of Aquatic Ecosystems

How does your work address the problems/the key risks? (in this case biodiversity)

Biodiversity is the foundation of the ecosystem services that humans rely on.  The work of the Aquatic Ecosystems group on wetlands measures the extent of wetlands and how human activities effect wetland extent and their ecology. Wetlands provide range of vital ecosystem services, including direct support of livelihoods,  flood protection and are  extremely effective areas for carbon storage. Their rich biodiversity underpins the services they provide, and the wetland habitat itself a harbour for an array of resident and migratory species. Culturally, when we lose wetlands we lose heritage. The WEF has an opportunity to place the safeguarding of biodiversity as an inherent and necessary part of economics and human well-being. Fine words alone will not do that.

How does this relate to the SDGs?

Wetland and freshwater biodiversity is the most threated of all ecosystems. Wetlands are included within terrestrial ecosystems covered by SDG 15 that calls specifically for the halting of biodiversity loss. SDG 6.6 is to protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including wetlands, rivers, and lakes. For more on the protection of freshwater Life see  www.allianceforfreshwaterlife and twitter @AFL_org. IHE co-authored the attached paper, available as open access.

Also working on this, and developing the research professionals of the future we have awarded recent PhDs on wetlands:

  • Eskinder Zinabu Belachew (2019). Estimating Combined Loads of Diffuse and Point Source pollutants into the Borkena River, Ethiopia. University of Wageningen
  • Maria Gabriela Alvarez Mieles (2019). Ecological Modelling of River-Wetland Systems. A case study for the Abras de Montequilla wetland in Ecuador. (co-promotor, TU Delft)
  • Abias Uwimana (2019) Effects of wetland conversion to farming on water quality and sediment and nutrient retention in a tropical catchment. University of Wageningen


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