UNITED NATIONS, July 11 (Xinhua) -- A report about the situation of water and forests said Wednesday that a global water crisis "is looming on the horizon," while urging more attention be given to forests.
"In many places around the world it (water crisis) is at the doorstep rather than the horizon, exacerbated by a growing global population and accelerated climate change," said the report from the Global Forest Expert Panel (GFEP) on Forests and Water, an initiative of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) led by the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).
"The relationships among forests, water, climate and people are complex, go largely unrecognized and lead to the question: What can people do with, to, and for, forests to ensure a sustainable quality and quantity of water necessary to the health and well-being of both?" said the report entitled "Forest and Water on a Changing Planet: Vulnerability, Adaptation and Governance Opportunities. A Global Assessment Report."
The report underscored the importance of embracing the complexity and uncertainty of climate-forest-water-people linkages to prevent irrational decision-making with unintended consequence.
"Governments and all stakeholders wanting to achieve the SDGs (the Sustainable Development Goals related to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development) need to understand that water is central to attaining almost all of these goals, and forests are inseparably tied to water," said Hiroto Mitsugi, chair of the Collaborative Partnership on Forests.
"Policy and management responses must therefore tackle multiple water-related objectives across the range of SDGs, and take a multiple benefits approach," he said.
More than 7 billion people currently on this planet share it with approximately 3 trillion trees, said the report. "Both humans and trees need water. Forests' role in the water cycle is at least as important as their role in the carbon cycle in the face of climate change. In addition to being the lungs of the planet, they also act as kidneys."
"Thus, addressing forests-water-people-climate links wisely, comprehensively and expeditiously is crucial to our long-term wellbeing," said the report.
Changes in forest-water relations "will affect the quality and quantity of related ecosystem services such as the supply of water or forest products and will also have an impact on where, how and to whom these services will be available," it said.
"Therefore, it is necessary to consider questions of distributional equity, fairness and justice in forest-water arrangements. Already marginalized and vulnerable communities should not be exposed to further risks," said the report.
The report concluded that international governance "can play a key role in optimizing climate-forest-water relations by creating norms such as the SDGs, by providing forums in which norms can be discussed, negotiated and agreed upon, and by providing opportunities for assessing progress."