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    Un blog sobre la gestión integral de agua, saneamiento, residuos sólidos y el ambiente urbano.
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    Sergio CamposSergio Campos
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    Las opiniones expresadas en este blog son las del autor y no necesariamente reflejan las opiniones del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, sus directivas, la Asamblea de Gobernadores o sus países miembros.

    The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank, its Management, its Board of Executive Directors or its member Governments.

    Water and Biodiversity

    Por - 22 de mayo de 2013, 2:19 pm

     by Duncan Gromko*

    CaptureSpending a long weekend in Michigan kayaking, swimming, and fishing made me realize how lucky I am to enjoy the benefits of clean and abundant water. Since this year’s International Day for Biological Diversity has the theme of Water and Biodiversity, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to write about the connection between healthy ecosystems and water supply.

    Here’s why the UN chose to emphasize the link between water and biodiversity:

    “Biodiversity is critical to the maintenance of both the quality and quantity of water supplies and plays a vital but often under-acknowledged role in the water cycle. This changes the water-biodiversity paradigm by requiring us to look at how biodiversity influences water. The equation becomes less about trade-offs and more about converging interests between biodiversity and water. We shift from potential conflict to partnerships and cooperation.”

    Water needs are sometimes pitted against environmental concerns in the development conversation. For instance, a new hydropower dam that will supply electricity might also negatively impact habitat that supports local flora and fauna.

    While those types of tensions still exist, the UN report is focusing on the interdependency between biodiversity, water, and human development. Economic productivity is dependent on functioning ecosystems. The dam in my example above will also rely on consistent supply of water, which can be improved by investing in ecosystem restoration upstream of the dam. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment described these benefits as ecosystem services. Ecosystem services, such as clean and abundant water, are affected by changes to the local environment.

    Latin America and the Caribbean are well endowed with freshwater resources: 30% of the earth’s freshwater resources are found in LAC. These resources have also shaped the region’s economy, contributing to its agricultural productivity and power sources. Roughly 65% of electricity generated in LAC comes from hydropower, more than any other world region. Of course, the Amazon plays a critical role in hydrological cycling for the continent, but lesser-known ecosystems like the Pantanal provide numerous water services: replenishment of water sources, water storage, wastewater purification, control of sedimentation and siltation, and disaster risk reduction.

    What I like most about the UN report is its focus on how “natural infrastructure” can be a cost effective way of protecting and enhancing water services. One famous example of the cost-effectiveness of natural infrastructure comes from the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. New York City water management officials were considering a US $6-8 billion investment in a new water treatment plant. Instead, they found that by paying landowners in the Catskills US $1-1.5 billion to improve land-use practices, they could achieve the same water purification goals. And while natural infrastructure can be cost-competitive with grey infrastructure for water provision, it also supplies a number of co-benefits. Natural ecosystems can provide revenue from tourism, sustainable harvest of renewable resources, cultural benefits, and of course biodiversity conservation. The Latin American Conservation Council (LACC), which includes IDB President Luis Moreno on its board, has made nature-based solutions to water security one of its primary objectives.

    As LAC grows and becomes more urbanized, continued supply of clean water will be crucial to its development. By incorporating the value of ecosystems into decisions, policy-makers can ensure that the region secures its water supply.

    Visit www.iadb.org/biodiversity to learn more about biodiversity and ecosystem services and follow us on twitter:@BIDEcosistemas.

    * Duncan Gromko (@DGromko) is a Biodiversity Analyst for the IDB’s Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Program, focusing on private sector engagement, spatial tools, and monitoring and evaluation of the Program. Before coming to the IDB, he worked at the World Resources Institute on the impacts of palm oil on Indonesian forests.

    2 comentarios

    • […] Biodiversity is critical to the maintenance of both the quality and quantity of water supplies and plays a vital but often under-acknowledged role in the water cycle.  […]

    • […] Water is critical to human well-being. Water is needed for food production, energy production, and business productivity. And yet water availability and quality is challenged by climate change, competing demands, and contamination. Most people do not spend much time thinking about water: how to effectively manage its use among competing demands or how climate change will affect our access to water. This is beginning to change as people across Latin America and the Caribbean face extreme droughts and floods or suffer the consequences of poor wastewater management. This is why the Inter-American Development Bank recently invited leading experts on water resources to participate in a roundtable discussion that took a pragmatic look at the “integrated water resource management” in a region that holds about 30% of the Earth’s available freshwater.  […]

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