Moving forward for freshwater life

Alliance for Freshwater Life (AFL)

Members of the AFL at the symposium in the Botanical Garden, Berlin. | Photo: Nadja Neumann

In November 2018, the Alliance for Freshwater Life organised a symposium in Berlin on "Raising Awareness and Funding for Freshwater Life". The funders of the symposium were IGB, the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Leibniz Research Alliance Biodiversity, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, and Stiftung Mensch und Umwelt. "We invited a group of 45 international experts in science communication, policy, fundraising, and conservation action to share experiences of communication and awareness-raising in nature conservation and to discuss the steps needed to place freshwater biodiversity on the global funding Agenda", explains Dr. Nike Sommerwerk from the Leibniz Research Alliance Biodiversity, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. This symposium and a freshwater biodiversity advent calendar are only two of the activities of the Alliance for Freshwater Life, since its founding in October 2017 in Berlin.

A strong dynamic network for freshwater biodiversity - please join!

Despite the overwhelming contribution of fresh waters to global biodiversity and human well-being, there is a global freshwater biodiversity crisis. Uniting specialists in research, data synthesis, conservation, education, outreach, and policy, the AFL aims to engage with conservation professionals, civil society, government, and policymakers. The AFL has started as a small group of like-minded people, led by IGB and with representatives of 23 international partners including the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Australian Rivers Institute, the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center, IHE Delft, and Synchronicity Earth. 

"Our vision is to build a world where people better understand, value and safeguard freshwater biodiversity. Researchers, nature conservationists, and politicians ‒ they are all interested in protecting biodiversity. But we often do not work together. AFL is a commitment for all participants – to listen to each other, to pool our expertise and to ensure that the general public is made aware of this topic," say IGB researchers Michael Monaghan and Jonathan Jeschke of the AFL’s remit. Sonja Jähnig added: "As freshwater researchers, we speak of overlooked biodiversity loss. After all, public awareness is mainly focused on charismatic terrestrial or marine species such as birds and large mammals like panda bears, polar bears, dolphins or whales." "And yet, there are plenty of freshwater species that would be ideal for drawing attention to the often worrying conditions that prevail in freshwaters,” outlined Gregor Kalinkat. "We neglect the fact that species diversity is actually beneficial to humans in the form of providing ‘ecosystem services’". 

Membership in the Alliance is open to any non-governmental, inter-governmental, governmental, or academic organization or individual working in the field(s) of research, communication, conservation, or policy related to freshwater biodiversity. We seek a diverse membership from across the world, please send us a short email or watch our website to register.

In August 2018, the AFL was formally launched in Stockholm during the World Water Week. In parallel, a manuscript was published to introduce the network.

Wiliam Darwall; Vanessa Bremerich; Aaike De Wever; Anthony I. Dell; Jörg Freyhof; Mark O. Gessner; Hans-Peter Grossart; Ian Harrison; Ken Irvine; Sonja C. Jähnig; Jonathan M. Jeschke; Jessica J. Lee; Cai Lu; Aleksandra M. Lewandowska; Michael T. Monaghan; Jens C. Nejstgaard; Harmony Patricio; Astrid Schmidt-Kloiber; Simon N. Stuart; Michele Thieme; Klement Tockner; Eren Turak; Olaf Weyl. 2018. The Alliance for Freshwater Life: a global call to unite efforts for freshwater biodiversity science and conservation. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Research 28:1015-1022.

Contact person

Sonja Jähnig

Research group leader
Working group
Aquatic Ecogeography

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