By Harmony Patricio, Aaike De Wever, Eren Turak & Jörg Freyhof

November 16, 2017

Alliance for Freshwater Life meeting, Berlin, 9-11 October

A group of 18 freshwater biodiversity experts, including FWBON leads, recently met in Berlin/Germany to formalize and advance a key effort focused on freshwater biodiversity exploration and awareness raising. The meeting grew from a concept (The Blueprint of Freshwater Life) that has been developing since 2010, initiated through discussions among IUCN-SSC members and the Freshwater Biodiversity Unit staff, among other colleagues. The meeting in Berlin was generously supported by the Leibniz-Institute for Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB). A day of presentations at the IGB offices, also attended by several additional staff and students, was followed by two days of intense discussion and decision-making. Alliance for Freshwater Life (AFL) was accepted as a name for the initiative which has now been formalized. Several priority research products were selected and defined, and the steering committee structure was developed. Drafts versions of two documents, a Vision and Mission Statement, and a Governance document, were produced by the core team.

The mission of the AFL is to reduce and halt the loss of freshwater biodiversity through research, outreach and education, conservation, and policy intervention. A key driver of the initiative is the need to raise the profile of freshwater biodiversity on the global conservation  agenda, given the rapid loss of freshwater species and habitats. Public outreach and education a critical step towards this goal. The steering committee will be formed within one year, and will include representatives from every major continent or biogeographic region. Three thematic groups were chosen and attendees at the meeting signed on to at least one of these: research and data; outreach and education; and conservation and policy. Several priority research and outreach activities were discussed as potential priorities. A policy document is also in development. The AFL is still in its early stages, but this meeting in Berlin has advanced our objectives significantly and given us a plan on which we can develop a more detailed structure and seek funding.


Participant list with affiliations:

  • Vanessa Bremerich –IGB, Germany
  • Lu Cai –Beijing Forestry University, China; Freshwater BON
  • Will Darwall, IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit, UK
  • Aaike De Wever, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Belgium
  • Jörg Freyhof –IGB, Germany
  • Mark Gessner –IGB, Germany
  • Ian Harrison, Conservation International
  • Ken Irvine, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, Netherlands
  • Sonja Jähnig –IGB, Germany
  • Jonathan Jeschke –IGB, Germany
  • Jessica Lee –author, Writer in residence at IGB, Germany
  • Aleksandra Lewandowska –University of Oldenburg, Germany
  • Michael Monaghan –IGB, Germany
  • Tony O’Dell –National Great Rivers Research and Education Network, USA
  • Harmon Patricio – IUCN WCPA Freshwater Specialist Group; Australian Rivers Institute
  • Simon Stuart –Synchronicity Earth, UK
  • Klement Tockner –Austrian Science Fund
  • Michelle Thieme –WWF-US
  • Eren Turak –Office of Environment and Heritage, Government of New South Wales, Australia
  • Olaf Weyl, South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity

Harmony Patricio (IUCN WCPA Freshwater Specialist Group), Aaike De Wever & Eren Turak (FW-BON) & Jörg Freyhof (FW-BON, IUCN SSC FFSG, IGB)

Alliance for Freshwater Life meeting in Berlin

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