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Water Quality Index for Biodiversity

Key indicator facts

Indicator type

Pressure

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Potential for future use at global and regional levels

Indicator type

Pressure

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Potential for future use at global and regional levels

Last update

2007

Coverage

Global

Availability

Not freely available

Partners

Unep gems water

UNEP Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS Water)

Unep

UN Environment

Contact point

Hartwig Kremer: hartwig.kremer@unep.org

Indicator description

The Water Quality Index for Biodiversity (WQIB), developed by the United Nation’s Environment Programme’s Global Environment Monitoring System for Water (GEMS/Water), is based on the most comprehensive global water quality dataset in the world. By examining changes in water quality over time it becomes possible to determine if water quality is declining, remaining stable or improving with regard to its ability to sustain biodiversity.

Related Aichi Targets

Primary target

8

Target 8:

By 2020, pollution, including from excess nutrients, has been brought to levels that are not detrimental to ecosystem function and biodiversity.

Primary target

8

Target 8:

By 2020, pollution, including from excess nutrients, has been brought to levels that are not detrimental to ecosystem function and biodiversity.

8

Related SDGs

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GOAL 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Target 6.3| Relevant indicator

By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally

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GOAL 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

E sdg goals icons individual rgb 06

Themes

Marine

Marine & freshwater habitats

View related indicators >
Marine
Pollution

Partners

Unep gems water
Unep

Key indicator facts

Indicator type

Pressure

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Potential for future use at global and regional levels

Indicator type

Pressure

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Potential for future use at global and regional levels

Last update

2007

Coverage

Global

Availability

Not freely available

Indicator description

The Water Quality Index for Biodiversity (WQIB), developed by the United Nation’s Environment Programme’s Global Environment Monitoring System for Water (GEMS/Water), is based on the most comprehensive global water quality dataset in the world. By examining changes in water quality over time it becomes possible to determine if water quality is declining, remaining stable or improving with regard to its ability to sustain biodiversity.

Contact point

Hartwig Kremer: hartwig.kremer@unep.org

Graphs / Diagrams

Figure 1.

Current storyline

The integrity of an ecosystem is typically assessed through its ability to provide goods and services on a continuous basis. Together with the air we breathe, the provision of clean water is arguably the most fundamental service provided by ecosystems. Yet, human activities have fundamentally altered inland water ecosystems and their catchments. As a consequence species dependent on inland waters are more likely to go extinct, and future extinction rates of freshwater animals could be up to 5 times higher than for terrestrial animals. Water quality refers to the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of a water body. These characteristics determine how and for what water can be used and the species and ecosystem process it can support. The WQIB uses data related to water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, electrical conductivity (salinity), nitrogen and phosphorus, to determine how water quality is affecting biodiversity.



Data and methodology

Data is collected and compiled from 6,216 water monitoring stations around the globe. A decrease in the percentage of stations with excellent-good scores and an increase in the percentage of stations with poor scores, means water quality is worsening. Reduced water quality will result in freshwater biodiversity loss. An increase in the percentage of stations with excellent-good scores and a decrease in the percentage of stations with poor scores, means water quality is improving. Improved water quality will reduce the rate of freshwater biodiversity loss.

By examining changes in water quality at each of these stations over time it becomes possible to determine if water quality is declining, remaining stable or improving with regard to its ability to sustain biodiversity.This approach has the advantage of incorporating spatial patterns of observed species responses to fragmentation operating at multiple spatial scales. Performing similar analyses for 20-50 different datasets from around the world will help to select the best possible form of BioFrag for application at regional and global scales.

National use of indicator

The WQBI is designed as a global index, but can also be calculated at a variety of scales. At the most basic geographic unit, WQIB scores can be interpreted over time at individual monitoring stations and compared to raw water quality monitoring data to interpret patterns observed. There are many ways to extrapolate station by station patterns to larger geographic units, such as by drainage basin, freshwater eco-region, country, continent or the globe. Patterns in the number of stations classified as poor to good or in average WQIB scores can be examined over time in the geographic unit of interest.

To date, two sub-national case studies have been undertaken, one applied for the Orange River, and the other for the Vaal Rivers in South Africa.

Further resources

Key indicator facts

Indicator type

Pressure

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Potential for future use at global and regional levels

Indicator type

Pressure

Applicable for national use

Yes

Indicator classification

Potential for future use at global and regional levels

Last update

2007

Coverage

Global

Availability

Not freely available

Partners

Unep gems water

UNEP Global Environment Monitoring System (GEMS Water)

Unep

UN Environment

Contact point

Hartwig Kremer: hartwig.kremer@unep.org