Freshwater ecosystems

Objectives

Our programme aims to enhance the significance of sharing experiences, insights, and good practices for the freshwater ecosystem conservation and management in south and south-east Asia.

Through the seminar we will bring together stakeholders from different domains to highlight and exchange the universally effective practices and arrangement for freshwater ecosystem services conservation and management.

Furthermore, the event aims to take a deeper look into the underlying conditions for those practices to work, shedding the light on how to implement them at the local scale in the target countries (India, Thailand, and Vietnam).

The programme activities consist of 3 international seminars and 3 training workshops in 3 countries, hosted by each country, India, Thailand, and Vietnam. The specific objectives of the events are:

  • To establish a new collaborative network between three target countries: India, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  • To share lessons on good practices (success stories) and feasible courses of action in freshwater ecosystems conservation and management for sustainable consumption, disaster risk reduction, and climate change adaptation.
  • To document meaningful knowledge, expertise and experiences from local communities related to ecosystem-based approaches.
  • To identify entry points in filling the gaps in mainstream biodiversity and freshwater ecosystem services into development policies.
  • To communicate the importance of ecosystem services and biodiversity at multiple levels (local, sub-national and cross-national) for the full enjoyment of human rights.

Outcomes

  1. Improved awareness and understanding of key freshwater ecosystem services in target groups, including those working in the policy and decision making domains.
  2. Promote roles of marginalized communities and other vulnerable groups in conserving and benefiting from freshwater ecosystems services.

Register to join our programme

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Programme activities

1

Thailand

Country: Thailand

Date: 26 November 2021

Time: 14:00 – 17:00 (GMT+7, Thailand, Vietnam) / 08:00 CET

Mode: Online Seminar via Zoom/Microsoft Teams

Theme: Community-based management of wetland in Lower Songkram River Basin

Background

The Songkhram River Basin is one of the most productive in terms of fisheries in the Thailand portion of the Mekong River Basin. Approximately 39% of the basin area is used to cultivate rice, and the remainder is under upland field crops, with only patches of wetland forests.

The wetland habitats in the Lower Songkhram River Basin (LSRB) are intricately linked to the natural hydrological cycle of the Mekong Basin and is susceptible to significant seasonal variations in the floods cycle. The seasonal flood cycle is crucial for the diverse wetland habitats, flora and fauna, and the livelihoods of rural people, especially the most marginalized groups in the area who depend on the wetlands for farming, fisheries, and wetland-products.

These indigenous communities are engaged in a mix of wetland dependent activities such as capture fisheries, fish processing, harvesting wetland products, agriculture and livestock raising. In 2020, the LSRB was classified as an International Ramsar Wetlands site due to its rich biodiversity and livelihood opportunities.

However, the natural hydrological cycle of the Songkhram River has been altered in recent decades because of rapid commercialization of farming, pollution, over-exploitation of wetlands resources, expanding human settlements, and the construction of weirs.

Consequently, the areas along the river's channel have become more vulnerable to water-related disasters, with flooding being one of the main risks. The main barrier in the area is a lack of knowledge and evidence-based tools to help decisionmakers in managing and conserving the wetlands.

Mainstreaming ecosystem services and ecosystem-based adaptations (EbA) into policies and practices through Sustainable fisheries, provision for sustainable livelihoods options, and flood risk reduction as well as integrated water and wetland resource management remain potential possibilities.

Speakers

  1. Mr. Yanyong Sricharoen (NGO), WWF Thailand
  2. Mr. Suriya Ko Tha Me (CSO), Teacher at Pak Yam Village, Song kram River Basin
  3. Mr. Samanchai Su Van Na Ahum Phai (Government), Head of Conservation group of Pak Yam Village, Song Kram River Basin
  4. Dr. Mokbul Ahmad (Academic), Faculty of Development Planning Management and Innovation, AIT
  5. Ms Kusum Athukorala, Women For Women (WFW)
  6. Ms. Ridhi Saluja, Research Fellow-Wetlands Ecosystem Management, SEI

Moderators

Dr. Ho Huu Loc, Water Engineering and Management (AIT) and Dr. Mokbul M. Ahmad (AIT)

2

Vietnam

Country: Vietnam

Date: 27 November 2021

Time: 08:30 – 11:00 (GMT+7, Vietnam, Thailand)

Mode: Please click on this Zoom link to join the session.

Theme: Promoting Ecological Shrimp Farming Systems (ESF) as a promising Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Salinity prone Deltas

Background

Salinity intrusion is one of the most important environmental risks that challenge the sustainable development goals of the Vietnamese Mekong Delta (VMD).

Taking advantage of the abundant water and sediment resources of the Great Mekong River, VMD has played a pivotal role in helping the country get rid of the food shortage in the late 50s but also become one of the world’s largest rice bowls, contributing to safeguard the global food security.

However, the rice production of the VMD has been critically challenged by the ever-intensifying intrusion of saline water due to sea level rise and land subsidence, putting the lives of rice farmers in jeopardize. Ecological Shrimp Farming Systems (EFS), first introduced in the late 2000s in Ca Mau province, have emerged as one viable adaptation measure to help rice farmers sustainably transform their livelihoods.

More specifically, EFS has enabled the farmers to utilize the saline water to farm suitable strains of shrimps, such as the white legged shrimps (Litopenaeus vanname) to sustain the income while adapting to the new environmental challenge of salinity intrusion.Also, EFS does not require large financial investments for being an ecological farming model, thus very suitable to the vulnerable groups of the VMD, including the poor and the underrepresented.

Economic improvement aside, the EFS has also provided an excellent opportunity to support transformative changes to the old-fashioned, usually single-male oriented decision-making models related to livelihood options of the VMD farmers’ households. More specifically, EFS is a new livelihood model, hence provide equal learning opportunities to every member, thus can leverage the roles of the underrepresented groups, paving the way to a more inclusive decision-making model.

Thereupon, the EFS can also provide unparallel opportunities to streamline the human-rights conversations to the local governments related equal distributions of access to resources for the marginalized groups via supporting them to transform their livelihoods against the new environmental challenge.

The prerequisite to facilitate such goals, however, is a sustainable corporative model between stakeholders to support with training and sharing of farming experience, market insights, and preparing for periodical socks from the market and environments, each of which, has not been sufficiently documented in published literature.

Therefore, the seminar event in Vietnam will help collate the relevant information related to the experience as well as the challenges of the EFS by bringing together representatives from different domains to highlight and exchange the universally effective practices and arrangement for EFS as a promising ecosystem-based adaptations for the salinity prone deltas of the world.

Speakers

  1. Mr. Gian Tang Phuong (NGO), IUCN Vietnam
  2. Mr. Nguyen Van Khanh (CSO), Dong Thanh commune, An Minh district, Kien Giang province, VN
  3. Mr. Nguyen Van Truong (Government), People's Committee of Dong Thanh
  4. Dr. Nguyen Huu Yen Nhi (Academic), An Giang University
  5. Dr. Pham Huynh Thanh Van (Academic), An Giang University

Moderators

Mr Pham Duy Tien (AGU) and Dr. Tu Anh Hoang (CCIHP)

3

India

Date: 1 December 2021

Time: 14:00 – 16:45 (GMT+5.30, India) / 15:30 (Thailand, Vietnam) / 9:30 CET

Zoom: Please click on this Zoom link to join the session

Theme: Freshwater Ecosystem Conservation and Management through Stakeholders Engagement: Challenges and Opportunities

Background

About 40% of Maharashtra State falls under India’s drought-prone areas, with an average annual rainfall of less than 700 mm. Most of the rural population in these areas depends on agriculture and allied activities as their source of livelihood.

Agriculture in these areas depends on the scanty and erratic nature of rainfall and experience frequent droughts. The areas equipped for irrigation exploit surface and groundwater for irrigation purposes. The prolonged or consecutive droughts (more than one or two years) could significantly reduce water availability not only for agriculture but also for domestic and other purposes.

The immediate impact is the loss of livelihood of the agricultural-dependent population, which triggers the vicious cycle of natural resources exploitation at the local level, such as groundwater exploitation, deforestation, and sand mining, resulting in various socio-economic issues and environmental degradation.

The rural population in these areas is experiencing critical challenges caused by the unstainable use and management of freshwater ecosystems, which is highly likely to worsen due to climate change. It necessitates the transition of local communities from local resources exploitation to conservation and sustainable management.

Several institutes, including government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), focus on soil and water conservation and management at the local level through stakeholders engagement and motivating stakeholders. However, the inclusion of women and marginalized communities in decision-making remains a challenge.

In this background, while moving from the traditional watershed management approach (freshwater ecosystem conservation and management) towards Ecosystem-based Adaptation, the inclusion of underrepresented stakeholders in decision making is essential.

This online seminar aims to revisit the existing freshwater ecosystem conservation and management in India (mainly in the Drought Prone Maharashtra context), articulate the success stories and lessons learned. The seminar would also identify challenges and opportunities of womens’ and marginalized communities while participating in local level freshwater ecosystem conservation and management decisions and planning.

The panel conversation is expected to be helpful in the identification of status, needs, and potential strategies for mainstreaming freshwater ecosystem conservation and management and adopting a more comprehensive Ecosystem-based Adaptation approach to combat extreme hydromet events, including droughts in the region, ensuring sustainable livelihoods.

Based on the recommendations of the expert panel and audiences, the seminar would stimulate the discussion about the status, needs, and potential strategies such as freshwater ecosystem conservation and management (Co-Design, Co-Produce, and Co-Conserve/Co-Manage with stakeholders active involvement over time).

Speakers

  1. Dr. Marcella D’Souza, Director, Watershed Organization Trust (WOTR), India
  2. Dr. NC Narayanan, Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
  3. Ms. Nanda Kale, Community representative sharing her experiences from field
  4. Dr. Haripriya Gundimeda, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India
  5. Dr. Bijon Kumer Mitra, Deputy Director, Integrated Sustainability Centre, Adaptation & Water, IGES Japan

Moderator

Dr. Parmeshwar Udmale, Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, India

4

India

Date: 20-21 December 2021

Time: 9:30 - 17:30

Venue: Darewadi in Sangamner sub-district of Ahmednagar, Maharashtra

Participants: Via Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB)

Theme: Freshwater Ecosystem Conservation and Management through Stakeholders Engagement: Challenges and Opportunities in Drought Prone Areas

Objectives

  • Interact with an established network of stakeholders actively working in the field with freshwater ecosystem conservation and management.
  • Share lessons on good practices (success stories) and feasible courses of action in freshwater ecosystem. conservation and management, and document meaningful knowledge, expertise, and experiences from local communities.
  • Identify entry points in filling the gaps in mainstream biodiversity and freshwater ecosystem services into development policies and promote EbA.
  • Communicate the importance of ecosystem services and biodiversity at the local and subnational level.
  • Explore opportunities to improve the decision-making processes to be gender and inclusive for the underrepresented stakeholders.

5

Vietnam

Date: 28 December 2021

Time: 9:30 - 17:30

Participants: Via An Giang University (AGU)

Theme: Promoting Ecological Shrimp Farming Systems (ESF) as a promising Ecosystem-based Adaptations in Salinity prone Deltas

Objectives

  • Disseminate the information received from the seminar to the local community.
  • Integrate and learn from local and indigenous knowledge of different stakeholder groups about their experience with the rice-shrimp farming mode.
  • Understand still persisting challenges and promote the role of women as key actors in the rice-shrimp farming mode in Mekong Delta.
  • Promote good practices and insights on freshwater ecosystems conservation and management for equitable and sustainable utilization, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
  • Bridge the gap between different groups in the community and between community and government.

Cover photo by our storyteller Mohsin Ul Hakim.

Partners

Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)

Swedish Government (SIDA)

Asian Institute of Technology (AIT)

WWF Thailand

An Giang University (AGU)

CCIHP

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