Freshwater | WWF


All life needs water. It is the world’s most precious resource, fueling everything from the food you eat, to the cotton you wear, to the energy you depend upon every day.

© Thomas Cristofoletti / WWF-US

Freshwater is the world’s most precious resource. Freshwater habitats house a large proportion of the world’s biodiversity: more than 10 per cent of all known animals and about half of all known fish species. Yet despite its massive role in our lives, water is a surprisingly finite resource. Less than one per cent of the world’s water is fresh and accessible. Water is also hugely threatened. Climate change, population growth and changing consumption patterns are just some of the forces putting freshwater systems increasingly at risk. WWF’s Global Goal: Freshwater ecosystems and flow regimes in key river basins provide water for people and nature.

Why it matters

The Mekong delta is one of the largest and most fertile deltas in Asia and indeed in the world. It covers about four million hectares across 13 of Vietnam’s provinces and currently supports a population of about 18 million people. The Mekong Delta is famous for a range of habitats including rivers, freshwater wetlands, mangroves, grasses, riparian vegetation, paddy land and peat-lands. The delta is of great economic importance to Vietnam and is the country’s most productive aquaculture and agricultural area.
This economic model is now challenged by a variety of unlinked threats. Among these threats is the construction of upstream dams, the unplanned sand mining or the effect of climate change. Their combined effects are transforming the natural dynamic of the delta and impacting housing, infrastructures, mangroves, agriculture and aquaculture. 

© Nguyen Linh Em / WWF-Vietnam

What is WWF-Vietnam doing

WWF is promoting the restoration and conservation of the wetlands in Mekong Delta by projects and support in some protected areas such as Tram Chim, Lang Sen, Ca Mau, U Minh Thuong, etc. Further, after the recognition of Ramsar for Tram Chim and Ca Mau protected areas, WWF also cooperate with the Department of Conservation and Biodiversity, the key national agency in implementing Ramsar Convention, in the proposal of recognition the next two Ramsar of Vietnam in Mekong Delta for Lang Sen and U Minh Thuong.

Besides, WWF focused on the improvement of livelihoods of local people living in the buffer zone by establishing groups of people using resources in a reasonable way.

© Thomas Cristofoletti / WWF-US

WWF’s strategy is focusing on the following aspects:

  • Habitat restoration: the integrity of biodiversity critical habitats (wetlands) are conserved, maintained and restored in the Mekong Delta Landscape through zero critical habitat degradation and conversion

  • Addressing poverty & livelihoods: effective community-based conservation models have been integrated into land-use plans, demonstrating strong results to sustainable natural resource management and livelihood development.

  • Enabling policies and frameworks: key policies and legal framework strengthened or established; the legal requirements and guidelines are developed for mainstreaming natural capital into development planning at local and national level,

  • Robust green growth: The Vietnam National Green Growth Strategy and Action Plan (2021-2030) is developed in accordance with green economy best practice, and is supported by effective national, natural capital analysis and accounting systems,

  • Strengthened land-use planning and implementation: land-use and cross sector planning at the priority landscape level is based on reliable natural capital and ecosystem service information and developed in accordance with best practice principles, including biodiversity conservation and water governance,

  • Sustainable financing: models for sustainable financing of biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement developed and applied in the Mekong Delta Landscape,

  • Influencing financial flows: key investments impacting priority landscapes meet international standards for green investment and impact on the landscapes is significantly reduced.


In Vietnam, the wetland ecosystems play a vital function in food security, and create conducive conditions for activities of various economic sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry, waterways, tourism, and mining. However, in recent years, the area of the natural wetland ecosystems has been degraded severely due to the reclamation to change the natural land into the fishponds or farmlands. Moreover, because of the limitations in scientific and technical knowledge as well as the pressure in forest fire prevention, the methods in management in some wetland areas is inappropriate and unsuitable. For instance, in Mekong Delta, a system of levees has been built to prevent and control flood risk but it also causes the huge damage to the ecosystems by isolation and lead them to the degradation.

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Water Stewardship

Water stewardship is about business understanding the risks they face from water scarcity and pollution, and taking action to help ensure water is managed sustainably as a shared, public resource. Stewardship goes beyond being an efficient water user. It is about the private sector collaborating with governments, other businesses, NGOs, communities, and others to protect shared freshwater resources. WWF is helping redefine the role of the private sector in advocating, supporting and promoting better basin governance for the benefit of people and nature.

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