New agenda aims to advance biodiversity research and environmental policy
Ms Jähnig said: “The agenda is intended to provide the impetus for a stronger global commitment to research and conservation of freshwater biodiversity; however, concrete actions must always be developed at local, regional and national levels”.
The authors of the Agenda identified 15 priority needs and grouped these into five major areas: data infrastructure, monitoring, ecology, management, and social ecology, against which international freshwater biodiversity research should be developed in a targeted manner. The authors also identified three major challenges – knowledge gaps, miscommunication, and inadequate policies – that need to be overcome.
Close knowledge gaps, communicate better and show political courage
Alain Maasri said: “It‘s not about pointing fingers at policy makers or other stakeholders. It is up to all of us – including us researchers – to set priorities and work better together”.
There are major gaps in knowledge and there is unequal access to information, for example about the interactions between organisms and the environment. Monitoring could also be improved with the help of automated image and video analysis, artificial intelligence, remote sensing technologies and the engagement of citizen scientists. Other disciplines and non-freshwater specialists should also be involved.
Communication difficulties exist in coordinating existing monitoring programs, in linking them across sites, and in mobilising and making existing data available. These must be accompanied by digitization of data from regional and national monitoring agencies, museum collections and research institutions.
The authors hope for more political support in the case of conflicting goals between ecological, economic and social interests through the involvement of local communities and experts. This also implies the inclusion of traditional and indigenous ecological knowledge.
In summary, Ms Jähnig said: “Above all, lakes, rivers, ponds and wetlands should be explicitly recognised as important habitats and ecosystems in their own right by policymakers and funding organisations, and in management and restoration programs”.