EDUCATION & OUTREACH
We raise the profile of freshwater biodiversity worldwide through education and public engagement.
Two thirds of the world's inland wetlands have disappeared or been severely degraded (Davidson 2014); the rate of decline in freshwater species is twice that of either marine or terrestrial ecosystems (WWF 2016); and 1 in 3 freshwater species are threatened with extinction (IUCN 2017).
Yet, levels of awareness of the biodiversity crisis in freshwater ecosystems remain pitifully low, despite decades of efforts to call attention to the problem.
In 1997, Richter et al. referred to the threats to freshwater biodiversity as the “quiet crisis .... taking place beneath the surface of the world’s rivers and lakes”. And the situation has remained largely unchanged (Dudgeon, 2010).
The current lack-of-concern for freshwater life demands new large-scale initiatives that bring freshwater biodiversity to the forefront of political, industrial, and social agendas.
Good initiatives such as Ramsar's "World Wetland Day", the “International Day of Action for Rivers”, and "World Fish Migration Day", provide a strategy to highlight important freshwater issues, but such initiatives are inevitably limited by their one-day-a-year implementation.
The Alliance will support the formation of much-needed and highly targeted new awareness-raising activities worldwide. We will work to facilitate the development and implementation of creative, powerful media campaigns that demand action for freshwater conservation.
Many policies for the sustainable management and conservation of freshwater ecosystems already exist, but all too often remain partially, or not at all, implemented. New large scale and professional awareness campaigns are a critical prerequisite to raise the importance of freshwater ecosystems on the political, industrial and social agendas.
Levels of awareness of the biodiversity crisis in freshwater ecosystems remain pitifully low.
What we're doing to make a difference
Spreading awareness of biodiversity
The Alliance will tackle the "awareness-challenge" by ensuring that the results of research and exploration on freshwater biodiversity and conservation action are disseminated via scientific publications and public education programmes, including through schools and colleges, promotion of the work of conservation NGOs focused on freshwater systems, and public outreach via news and media.
Documenting freshwater systems
Documentary films are a powerful tool to both raise awareness of important freshwater conservation issues and to inspire people to take action. We want to introduce the freshwater world to the public through a series of high-profile documentary projects that feature exploration and discovery in some of the world’s most dramatic yet poorly known regions.
Launching new communications
Large-scale, professional awareness campaigns are a critical prerequisite to raise the importance of freshwater ecosystems on political, industrial and social agendas. The Alliance will work with existing and new partners to raise the profile of the importance and value of freshwater and its biodiversity using traditional and novel multi-media communication techniques.
Progress we've made:
- Davidson N.C. 2014. How much wetland has the world lost? Long-term and recent trends in global wetland area. Marine and Freshwater Research 65, 934-941.
- Dudgeon, D. 2010. Prospects for sustaining freshwater biodiversity in the 21st century: Linking ecosystem structure and function. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 2, 422- 430.
- IUCN 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-1. Downloaded on 06 July 2017.
Richter et al. 1997. Threats to imperilled freshwater fauna. Conservation Biology, 11, 1081-1093.
- WWF. 2016. Living Planet Report 2016. Risk and resilience in a new era. WWF International, Gland, Switzerland.