Synchronicity Earth supported Wetlands International to carry out a user needs assessment to understand what and how information on wetlands can be better shared, stored and managed. This initiative was the first stage of a much bigger project, known as the Global Wetlands Observation System (GWOS).
Information regarding the world’s wetlands is widely dispersed and often lacking. For example, there is no global map of all the world’s wetlands available, making understanding changes and threats to them, and demonstrating these, very challenging. Baseline data is lacking for many wetland habitats and their species, and where there is information, it is not always easily accessible. Having gaps in data, allows decision makers and developers to ignore potential impacts on freshwater bodies and for society to underestimate their importance and value. Wetland habitats have long been marginalised and seen as dispensable, yet they are crucial for all life on earth.
This first project stage identified the information services and functionalities required by targeted stakeholders so they can use relevant information to inform their decision-making processes; clarify data availability and accessibility; and design data flow to agree with data providers.
This project was a collaborative project and involved many conservation organisations, many of which had been working voluntarily on this concept for some time. Wetlands International was well placed to coordinate the GWOS initiative, given their (rare) singular focus and expertise on wetlands, their role as a key Ramsar partner, their global outreach with 18 offices worldwide and their diversity of work from field level to policy level enabling them to engage different stakeholder groups.