The Source, our Annual Review 2019

This brings me to the role of wetlands in addressing climate change impacts in cities. I always tell mayors that better- managed wetlands provide flood defence similar to ex - pensive dykes and dredges. There is uncontested evidence that wetlands slow the flow of water which, among other benefits, results in the reduction of flood damage in cities. And this is in addition to the health impacts derived from the way wetlands purify urban run-off water and, of course, the aesthetic value that a birdwatcher like me look for when choosing where I should live. I therefore would like to see mayors, urban professionals and businesses increasingly recognise that wetlands are not just another vacant land for the next commercial or housing development project. What do you see as the role for wetlands international in a highly competitive and crowded urban space? The urban space may look crowded but there is more work to be done to achieve sustainable and resilient cities. I see a key role for Wetlands International to place the best available science and knowledge in the hands of mayors and city officials. This will inspire sound urban policies and regulations so that urban economies can derive maximum value from wetlands. Wetlands International can also help in bringing cities’ voices to international policy making platforms that it has access to.

pecially at this time when the organisation is looking into a focus on cities. Urbanisation and the consequential land use options are putting pressure on wetlands in urban are- as and I felt a call of duty to do something. I am convinced that mismanagement of wetlands is one of the root causes of climate risks in cities and that should not happen under any mayor’s watch. How do you see the safeguarding and restoration of wetlands contributing to the battle against impacts of climate change in cities? The organisation I work for partnered with other climate change organisations and published a report: The Future We Don’t Want, outlining how climate change could impact the world’s greatest cities. While urban population contin- ues to grow, climate hazards are increasingly threatening cities and urban residents, through increasing inland and coastal flooding, as well as prolonged heat waves and fires. Cities are under pressure to invest in adaptation measures that safeguard people, assets and services. Before con- sidering such investments, I believe it is wise for cities to first look at what they have – including assets and services that are provided by nature. Nature-based solutions have potential to address urban challenges and improve the well-being of urban residents in a cost-effective way.


Could you tell us a bit about your background? How did you come to be a cities and climate expert? I am an economist who specialised in green economy be- cause I believe that a healthy economy needs a healthy planet. I worked for many years with the World Conserva- tion Union (IUCN) in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Kenya and at IUCN Headquarters in Switzerland. It was at IUCN where I came acquainted with the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and developed the passion to work on climate change issues. Looking at the trends in urbanisation, I noticed that the world gets almost 67 million new urban dwellers every year. It became evident to me that our future is urban and the battle on climate change will be won or lost in cities. I became convinced that it is important to cascade support

to city governments to enable them pursue low-carbon and resilient growth pathways. This is what motivated me to join C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and even un- derstand urbanism better by studying more on cities at the London School of Economics (LSE Cities). What brought you to your role as supervisory council member with wetlands international? First, I am a birdwatcher - so anything that brings me and my binocular closer to wetlands is appealing. When the opportunity to contribute to the work of Wetlands Interna- tional presented itself, I did not even think twice. I feel that given my collaboration and conversations with a big network of mayors and urban professionals, I can contribute to Wetlands International’s strategic intent es-

The city of Johannesburg.



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019

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