World Wetlands Day 2021: the unknown potential of wetlands in nature-based solutions
Happy World Wetlands Day! Wetlands are “natural harvesters” of water and, by definition, sites where water abounds at or near the surface of the Earth. Throughout human history, they have played an important role in development and watered many great civilizations — among them the Maya, Inca and Aztec in the Americas, the Khmer in Asia, the Marsh Arabs in Mesopotamia and the civilizations of the Nile and Niger in Africa.
Today, because of their roles in providing water, regulating river flows and improving water quality, wetlands are perceived as a vital component in the toolkit of nature-based solutions. Their natural functions have been reframed as generators of important ecosystem services that contribute, in particular, to climate change mitigation and adaptation. In Colombo, Sri Lanka, wetlands are now explicitly incorporated into the city’s flood defense system, and are recognized as providing many other benefits including contributions to urban and periurban agriculture and recreation…