On 2 February 2021, UNU-IAS, Wetlands International Japan (WIJ), and the Global Environment Outreach Centre (GEOC) co-organised an online symposium to commemorate World Wetlands Day 2021. The symposium addressed challenges and solutions to the sustainable management of water resources and ways to reconnect our lives and wetlands, along with the global theme of “Wetlands and Water.”
During the opening remarks, Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi (Director, UNU-IAS) stressed the need for a holistic approach to achieving the SDGs in the COVID-19 crisis. She also highlighted UNU-IAS’s commitment to achieving the SDGs by making synergies among research projects and enhancing multi-stakeholder partnerships.
In video remarks, Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary-General of the Convention on Wetlands, appreciated the organisers’ commitment to host the WWD2021 event and commemorated Japan’s efforts to conserve and restore the country’s 52 designated Wetlands of International Importance.
During the presentations, Saroj Chapagain (Research Fellow, UNU-IAS)Saroj Chapagain shared case study outcomes from the UNU-IAS Water for Sustainable Development (WSD) project on the linkages between sectoral economic activities, water consumption, and pollution. By introducing the model to analyse both indirect and direct usage and sectoral linkages of water usage, he highlighted the importance of analysing water resource management in a single framework, by bringing economic and environmental sustainability together.
Yukihiro Shimatani (Kyushu University) shared local case studies in terms of the role of wetlands in disaster risk management, while Yohei Ueda (University of Shiga Prefecture) discussed the community’s history and people’s relationship with Lake Biwa, a registered Ramsar site and the largest freshwater lake in Japan.
In the Q&A session, the speakers highlighted the importance of addressing local issues through the SDGs, taking into account Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction, promoting system thinking in understanding the connection between human and nature, accurately evaluate the impact of the nature-based solutions through research, and promoting a platform to facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships.
The symposium was concluded with remarks from Kazuaki Hoshino (President, WIJ) highlighting the importance of protecting wetlands by re-considering our connections to water and daily lives.