What you need to know about the global resolution on sustainable lake management

Around the world, fresh and salt water lakes are under increasing pressure from a combination of land use changes, pollution from runoff from fertilizers and industrial effluents, and rising temperatures. Many lakes are shrinking, negatively affecting people, livelihoods and the local environment.

In March this year, the United Nations Environment Assembly adopted a resolution on sustainable lake management. This is the very first resolution devoted specifically to lakes. We spoke to Stuart Crane, a United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) expert on freshwater ecosystems, to find out more about the resolution, what it can accomplish and what it means In practice.

Why a resolution specifically on lakes?

Stuart Crane (SC): UNEP recognizes three interrelated global crises requiring urgent understanding, prioritization and action: climate, nature, chemicals and pollution. Lakes play a pivotal role as the impacts of these three interrelated planetary crises are felt directly, and in some cases disproportionately, on bodies of water, which are essential to life, livelihoods and health. people, economies and the planet. The key, however, is that through their protection, restoration, and better management, they can also help us combat these three crises.

The resolution calls on member states to “protect, conserve, restore and ensure the sustainable use of lakes”, but it does not specify any time frame by which the goals or targets must be achieved. What is the value of this resolution?

CS: We already have a target that protects freshwater ecosystems in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: UNEP, in collaboration with the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, acts as the global custodian for countries to monitor and implement this goal in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – goal number 6.6. So this commitment, which every country in the world has made, still stands. And we also have commitments related to fresh water which will be updated in the post-2020 biodiversity objective discussions that are currently taking place.

Through this commitment by States, the Lakes Resolution adds value by accelerating action on a specific and sometimes overlooked type of freshwater ecosystem that requires special attention. Lakes are sources of fresh water of crucial importance for consumption, agriculture and industry. This resolution is a first, sets the agenda for future actions and commitments, and strengthens pathways to sustainable development.

What is UNEP’s role?

CS: UNEP’s role is to help advance the sustainable management of lakes at all levels, in support of SDG 6 water governance, water quality and monitoring, reporting and enforcement work. freshwater ecosystems work that we undertake globally to support all countries. Our role is to facilitate collaboration among Member States and raise awareness of sustainable lake management globally to highlight the important role lakes play in maintaining ecosystem and human well-being.

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