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The interlinked threats facing lakes and why we need to protect them

Learn all about lakes and why protecting them is essential for our livelihoods and planet

Across the world, lakes fed by rivers, glacial melt, groundwater and rain have played an important role in human civilization and development. They contain 90 per cent of the fresh water on the planet’s surface, house an array of wildlife, and make possible farming, fishing and industry. Yet, due to climate change, pollution, mining, population pressure, and unsustainable land use, they are declining at an unprecedented rate. Freshwater ecosystems have lost more extent and biodiversity than almost any ecosystem in the world.

The threats facing lakes are interlinked. Lake pollution is worsened by global heating – leading, for instance, to more frequent and intense floods that cause nutrients, surface-bound contaminants and solid waste to be flushed into rivers and lakes. “Water pollution has continued to worsen over the last two decades, increasing the threats to freshwater ecosystems and human health,” says UNEP’s 2021 flagship report Making Peace With Nature.

Fertilizer is an important component of current food systems, and yet it is also a major source of river and lake pollution. Rain washes the nutrients in fertilizer into waterways and lakes which can lead to damaging algal blooms, which are predicted to increase by at least 20 per cent by 2050.

Wastewater is another pollution threat. Up to 80 per cent of global wastewater is estimated to enter water bodies untreated with adverse impacts on human and ecosystem health.

Continue reading the full story at UN Environment.

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030, led by the United Nations Environment Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and partners, covers terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems. A global call to action, it will draw together political support, scientific research and financial muscle to massively scale up restoration. Find out how you can contribute to the UN Decade.

For more information, please contact Lis Mullin Bernhardt: lis.bernhardt@un.org

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