Saving wetlands to fight climate change

30 October 2008 | News story

IUCN, the Ramsar Convention and the Danone Group have teamed up to fight climate change by protecting and restoring wetlands.

Wetlands, especially mangrove swamps, capture 20 percent of the Earth’s carbon and produce 24 percent of the world’s food. Not only are they vital to the survival of many populations, they also naturally purify fresh water and are effective barriers against coastal storms. Despite this, nearly half the world’s wetlands have been destroyed over the past century.

“This project fits perfectly into IUCN’s mission of promoting biodiversity as a fundamental prerequisite for ecosystems to be able to support the fight against climate change and poverty,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General.

The agreement between the three organizations was signed today at the 10th meeting of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands’ Conference of Contracting Parties in the Republic of Korea.

For Danone, the first steps taken under this programme will be led by one of its products, Evian, which has long experience in protecting water resources, particularly through the protection of the catchment zone that feeds its own spring.

Evian has worked for many years to reduce its environmental impact in energy consumption, packaging and transportation. As a result, between 2000 and 2011 Evian will have shrunk its carbon footprint by half. From 2009, as part of the agreement announced today, Evian will support programmes to store carbon by restoring wetlands with Ramsar and IUCN. This twin effort will enable Evian to become carbon neutral from 2011.

Danone will also set up the Danone Fund for Nature to support projects that combine water resources management, the conservation of biodiversity, quality improvements in food resources emanating from wetlands, and the strengthening of their natural capacity for storing large quantities of carbon dioxide.

Administered by the three partners, this fund will rely scientifically and technically on Ramsar and IUCN. The first pilot project will be implemented in 2009, followed by a larger scale roll-out, and tracked by reliable and recognized measurement methods.

“We’re glad we’ve been able to answer the appeal made by the Ramsar Convention and IUCN, and to do so through an original and promising partnership,” says Franck Riboud, Chairman and CEO of Danone. “What this means is putting in place the financial, technical and human resources required for rehabilitating ecosystems where we can fix a portion of our carbon footprint. The wetlands restoration programme, with the fixation potential that it represents and its fit with Evian's vocation and long-term commitment, is a natural complement to our ongoing efforts to reduce our corporate environmental impact.”

“The Danone Group and Evian have been working with us for 10 years,” said Anada Tiega, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention. What makes our partnership work is that we share the same goal of protecting water resources. We are delighted to reach a new level with Danone and Evian alongside IUCN with even more ambitious goals.”

For more information or to set up an interview, please contact:
• Sandra Hails, Ramsar, t +41 22 999 0176, e hails@ramsar.org
• Laurence Foucher, Danone Group, t + 33 1 44 35 39 19, e laurence.foucher@danone.com
• Bertrand Legret, Evian, t + 33 1 58 65 00 32, e blegret@hopscotch.fr
• Sarah Horsley, IUCN Media Relations Officer, t +41 22 999 0127, e sarah.horsley@iucn.org

About IUCN

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the world; and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

The world's oldest and largest global environmental network, IUCN is a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists and experts in some 160 countries. IUCN's work is supported by over 1,000 professional staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. IUCN's headquarters are located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland. For more information visit: www.iucn.org

About the Ramsar Convention

The international Wetlands Convention signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971 under the sponsorship of UNESCO is an intergovernmental treaty that provides a framework for actions by nations and for international cooperation to conserve and make considered use of wetlands and their resources. The Convention presently has 158 signatories, who have placed 1,820 wetland areas totalling 168 million hectares on the List of internationally significant wetlands. For more information visit: www.ramsar.org

About Danone

The mission of the Danone Group is to provide health through healthful eating to the most people it can. With 150 manufacturing sites and about 76,000 employees, Danone is a health foods leader. The Danone Group is included in the main social responsibility indexes—the Stoxx and the World Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes, the Eurozone ASPI and the Ethibel Sustainability Index. For more information visit: www.danone.com

About Evian

The Evian brand can be found on five continents and in over 120 countries. Its balanced mineral composition results from being filtered for over 15 years in the heart of the French Alps. At the end of this journey, Evian natural mineral water emerges in the Cachat Spring in the French town of Evian-les-Bains on the shore of Lake Geneva. Evian has a long-standing commitment to lowering its environmental impact. It has reduced the weight of its bottles by 20% over the past ten years, makes its bottles from 25% recycled PET and in Europe takes two-thirds of its production to market by train. For more information visit: www.evian.com
 


This image shows the courtship behavior of Indian Bull frogs (Holobatrachus tigerinus). During the monsoon, the breeding males become bright yellow in color, while females remain dull. The prominent blue vocal sacs of male produce strong nasal mating call.