Wetlands, Health and Sustainable Development: Global Challenges and Opportunities

Colin Finlayson, Philip Weinstein

    Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter


    When ecosystems services fail, human health suffers - and for no ecosystem is this link more direct than for wetlands. One third of the world's population lacks sufficient clean water for drinking, personal hygiene and cooking, and about two million people die annually from waterborne diarrhoeal disease. Even when water is available in abundance, ecosystem disruptions can carry a heavy disease burden: over-irrigation results in standing water in which disease-carrying mosquitoes breed, and water used by industry often allows toxins to enter the human food chain. Altered hydrologies and vegetation structures can lead to hardship, global environmental change, and, most recently, a host of new, 'emerging' infectious disease epidemics. Poor wetland management leads to a deterioration of both wetland ecosystem health and human health. It is only in the last couple of decades that we have come to appreciate the strength of the fundamental relationship between wetland ecosystem health and human health, and therefore the importance of developing environmental management strategies that support the maintenance of both wetland ecosystem health and human health concurrently. However, the concept of what constitutes a healthy wetland is not straightforward. Whilst the slogan 'Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People' may resonate with many people, wetland health is still largely a subjective concept. It is also one that is heavily influenced by our political ecologies; there are many complexities and uncertainties when considering healthy people and healthy wetlands. These complexities and the inter-related scientific issues are explored in this paper - what is a healthy wetland and how does a healthy wetland affect human health?
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHealthy Wetlands, Healthy People. Report of the Shaoxing City Symposium.
    EditorsMike Ounsted, Jane Madgwick
    Place of PublicationWageningen, The Netherlands
    PublisherWetlands International
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Print)9789058820105
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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