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Water is intricately linked to ecosystems, whether terrestrial or aquatic, and our association with and management of water have significant implications for ecosystems and the services they provide. Better understanding and protecting interlinkages between water and ecosystems while also taking better advantage of what these systems can provide for humans can go a long way in building water security and resilience, while maintaining sustainable natural capital.

This Focus Area supports work to understand the role of ecosystems, especially the ones linked to groundwater and aquifers, in supporting critical services to humans and nature. While often not recognized, managing groundwater is a key to supporting healthy ecosystems, important environmental flows and functions that we critically depend on. Again, an expression of the critical need for a ‘Whole of the Water Cycle’ approach.

The Focus Area also addresses Nature-based Solutions – those solutions that critically depend on natural ecosystems and ecosystem services in order to increase water storage, support ecological flows, purify waters and prevent flood or drought disasters. A key component of these solutions linked to groundwater and aquifers are referred to as Groundwater-Based Natural Infrastructure (GBNI).

Expertise and experience in Water and Ecosystems

WCI has worked extensively to define the role of groundwater in ecosystem services, identify quantitative methods to quantify these, e.g., through baseflow and environmental flow assessments, and how to use these operationally in setting targets for the Sustainable Development Goals, inter alia together with FAO