Die Wiederherstellung von Süßwasserökosystemen
Fuchs, Gregory et al. 2023: Die Wiederherstellung von Süßwasserökosystemen. Papier Nr. 8 der Policy Paper Reihe zur UN-Dekade für die Wiederherstellung von Ökosystemen (2021-2030). Bonn and Eschborn: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
Freshwater ecosystems, including rivers, lakes, and wetlands, provide essential ecosystem services such as clean drinking water, food, raw materials, recreation, and energy generation. The degradation of these ecosystems due to human activities such as pollution, water extraction, and habitat destruction is alarming, while climate change further exacerbates these threats. Intact and successfully restored freshwater ecosystems offer cost-effective, nature-based solutions that improve water quality, stabilize the landscape's water balance, provide habitat for numerous species, and contribute to climate change adaptation (e.g., against extreme weather events). In addition, particularly, the restoration of peatlands and the protection of intact wetlands significantly contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it is urgently necessary to intensify efforts to restore freshwater ecosystems.
Based on political developments and scientific findings, this paper analyzes a policy context in which the UN Decades for Ecosystem Restoration and Water play a key role, both supporting SDGs 6 and 14 in particular. However, only insufficient progress has been made with SDG 6, and freshwater ecosystems are underrepresented in the global biodiversity framework. The EU Water Framework Directive and the Ramsar Convention are important instruments, but have so far only been partially successful. The EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 and the planned Nature Restoration Law (NRL) are ambitious in their intention to contribute to ecosystem restoration. The UN Water Decade reached a significant milestone in March 2023 with the second UN Water Conference.
The paper contains policy recommendations, including the integration of measures into NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) and NBSAPs (National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans), the consideration of a binding water treaty and a UN special representative for water. Synergies between freshwater ecosystems and flood protection should be highlighted, and cross-sectoral cooperation promoted. The involvement of stakeholders and the collection and communication of best practices are crucial for the success of restoration efforts. The Ramsar Convention can play a central role in this regard. Moreover, sufficient funding is essential for the restoration of freshwater ecosystems.