13th World Lakes Conference
In Early November 2009, the 13th World Lakes Conference took place in Wuhan, South China. It was organised by the International Lake Environment Committee Foundation (ILEC), a Living Lakes partner from the beginning. The conference was supported by all Chinese scientific institutions as well as the national government. About 3.000 Chinese and international participants attended 33 sessions and discussed the problems faced by 80 % of the lakes: heavy pollution through industrial and domestic sewage, algae blooms due to high nutrient loads from agriculture and fish breeding, drying up due to excessive water withdrawal and increasing development along shorelines. The ecological state of the lakes worldwide has deteriorated alarmingly during the last decades – and the Chinese lakes are a sad example of it. The 24.800 Chinese lakes cover an area of over 80.000 sq. km – and with a few exceptions nearly all lakes are heavily polluted or on the verge of drying up.
Everybody knows that something must be done. There is international consensus on the need for integrated lake management and technical approaches, which are already available.
A range of industrial firms, however, ignore environmental rules in force and prefer to pay (low) fines if they are caught discharging waste water into lakes instead of treating the effluents before. And the irrigation of farm land has led to the shrinking of the Aral Sea, once the world’s fourth largest water body to 10 % of its original size.
The Global Nature Fund and Living Lakes were well represented at the World Lake Conference. Under the title „Living Lakes – NGOs promoting solutions“ Living Lakes partners from Lake Victoria (Kenya), Laguna de Bay (Philippines), Lake Biwa (Japan), Poyang (China) and the Lake Constance Foundation presented model projects and campaigns. There has been a great deal of interest in the launch of the network China with currently five Chinese environmental organizations. China’s four largest lakes are members of the new network, which is coordinated by the Living Lake partner MRLSD. The partners signed an action plan comprising a sensitisation campaign for the local population and the political decision makers, better involvement of the local people in the lake management and model projects of sustainable development.
Marion Hammerl, President of the Global Nature Fund, together with the Chinese partners, welcomed the launch of the network and on behalf of all Living Lakes partners wished the network great success.