Integrating freshwater data into sector-wide decision making to improve the protection and restoration of freshwater ecosystems

GWP and Cap-Net, with the support of UNEP and UNDP, are implementing a pilot project over 2020 – 2022 to help countries protect and restore freshwater ecosystems, with a focus on capacity-development, action planning through multi-stakeholder engagement, and integration of environmental data within relevant decision-making processes.

The natural environment plays an integral role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Freshwater ecosystems - including lakes, rivers, wetlands and groundwater - possess enormous biological, social, educational and economic values.  Recognizing their importance for sustainable development, SDG target 6.6 aims specifically ‘to protect and restore water-related ecosystems’. Unfortunately, freshwater ecosystems are increasingly facing serious pressures driven by human activities, including pollution, over extraction, and flow alteration, and these issues are compounded by climate change.

Decision makers need to utilise all information at their disposal that enable them to better understand the threats to water-related ecosystems and implement appropriate mitigation measures, involving the breadth of stakeholders and institutions concerned with sectors which impact upon those ecosystems.

The pilot project has been launched by GWP and Cap-Net, with the support of UNEP and UNDP, to tackle these challenges by promoting evidence-based decision making and actions that protect and restore water-related ecosystems, thus accelerating progress under SDG 6.6.1. It makes use in particular of the SDG 6.6.1 Freshwater Ecosystems Explorer platform launched in 2020 to support global level monitoring on SDG 6.6.1, which provides up-to-date, high-resolution geospatial data showing freshwater ecosystems change over time.

The project aims to encourage and promote the integration of environmental data within relevant decision-making processes through multi-stakeholder engagement, to improve the protection, management and restoration of freshwater ecosystems.

This will be achieved through the implementation of pilot projects in Argentina, Kazakhstan, and Kenya, through two outputs at country level:

  • Enhancing the awareness of decision-makers and build the technical capacity of key institutional actors to protect and/or restore freshwater ecosystems and/or watersheds
  • An ecosystem-specific cross-sectoral action plan to preserve and/or restore targeted watersheds and/or ecosystems is prepared through a consultative multi-stakeholder process

Read more about the project in the summary project description or download the training manual on freshwater ecosystems to learn more about how to protect and restore freshwater ecosystems and watersheds.