On 29th January 2024 we conducted The EAFOR Webinar Series on "Harmonising Wetland Management: Sustaining Ecological and Livelihood Management for a Resilient Future of Southeast Asia". The webinar provided a platform for experts and scholars to delve into critical issues surrounding wetland ecosystems in the region. In collaboration with the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) and The Southern Institute of Water Resources Research (SIWRR) Vietnam, the inaugural series addressed the theme of "The Urgency of Waste Management, Ecological Challenges, and Sustainable Infrastructure in Wetlands."
Dr. Elisabeth Rianawati, Director of the Resilience Development Initiative, initiated the discourse by shedding light on the urgency of wetland and waste management in Southeast Asia. Wetlands, transitional zones between land and the ocean, offer crucial ecosystem services such as acting as carbon sinks, housing 56% of global tropical biodiversity, and supporting local livelihoods.
Challenges and Solutions:
Despite their ecological significance, Southeast Asian wetlands face imminent degradation due to waste management issues, particularly solid waste and plastic pollution. Dr. Elisabeth emphasized the need for capacity-building, waste management planning, sustainable household waste campaigns, and increased garbage cleaning activities to address these challenges.
Infrastructure and Climate Resilience:
Dr. Lam Vu Than Noi, Deputy Head of the International Cooperation Department at SIWRR Vietnam, focused on sustainable infrastructure in wetland management in the Lower Mekong Basin. The Mekong Delta, vulnerable to climate change, and experiences rising seas, unpredictable rainfall, and extreme weather, jeopardizing agriculture, livelihoods, and biodiversity. Dr. Lam proposed key solutions, including irrigation systems, reservoirs, and embankments, stressing the importance of collaboration between governments, NGOs, and local communities for resilient infrastructure.
Community-Based Mangrove Conservation:
Liezl Grefalda, Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Forestry and Forest Governance, UPLB, presented on "Community-based Mangrove Conservation, Promoting Climate Resilience in Quezon, The Philippines." Ms. Liezl highlighted the vital role of mangroves in climate change adaptation, deforestation prevention, and enhancing local resilience. She emphasized the success of community-based forest management in reversing mangrove decline and promoting sustainable practices.
Dr. Sena, a Lecturer at the Faculty of Forestry, Gadjah Mada University, underscored the importance of intergovernmental policies for Mekong River Basin Management and advocated for collaborative approaches integrating waste management and mangrove conservation to provide income for local communities. Dr. Ekoningtyas, Executive Director of Alam Sehat Lestari, emphasized behavioral changes, protection of social and cultural aspects, and effective communication as essential components in waste management and mangrove conservation efforts.
The EAFOR Webinar Series provided valuable insights into the challenges and solutions for harmonizing wetland management in Southeast Asia. The presentations and discussions underscored the need for collaborative efforts, sustainable infrastructure, and community-based approaches to ensure the ecological resilience and livelihood sustainability of wetland ecosystems in the region. The attached presentation materials offer additional resources for researchers and organizations interested in further exploration of waste management, disaster risk reduction, and wetland conservation initiatives.