are, in a large part, the result of ecosystem degradation. Such is the case of wetland ecosystems1, where in most cases water dynamics determine the economy of the region. This dependence is remarkably evident in countries under continuous transformation where the progressing extraction of natural resources intensifies conditions of poverty2.
In wetlands, the characteristics that allow the ecosystem to function as a sole unit, also determine the vital, dynamic, and interdependent relationships that exist with its inhabitants3. Hence, the human well-being of communities that live in wetlands directly depends on the ecosystem's ecological conditions, levels of degradation, and social guarantees of conservation4.
The goods and services provided by wetlands benefit communities in ways that allow for the preservation of their ways of life; wetlands offer benefits for fishing, agriculture, housing, and culture, among others. These benefits also support sustenance, development, and human well-being at local, regional, and national levels5.
According to the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)6 62% of the Colombian population lives in poverty or misery, which are conditions linked to development and well-being. In the municipalities with wetlands1 that cover 30% or more of their territory, the same index stretches to 75%. These 282 municipalities, where 16 million people live, base their economy on fishing, agriculture, cattle raising, and mining. Therefore their productive activities are based upon the primary sector of the economy, which is equivalent to 35% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)6. of the country. These municipalities are also those with the highest rates of illiteracy and school dropouts, and have numerous cases of malaria, gastroenteritis, dengue, and infant mortality.
Such conditions could be directly related to aspects such as the degradation of wetland ecosystems, increasing diseases due to the poor quality of water, reduced fishing yields, increasing malnutrition indexes, sedimentation, loss of biodiversity, changes in water cycles, resource overexploitation, and changes in soil use. All of these factors directly or indirectly affect the supply of cultural, provision, and regulation services offered by the ecosystem.
The quality of life of these populations, along with their acting capacity in the need of conserving wetlands and ensuring related benefits, are affected by the profound ignorance about the opportunities and advantages that a healthy ecosystem offers. Thus, encouraging management and governance strategies that appreciate the relationship of development and community well-being with the provision and regulation services of the ecosystem will highlight, to an even greater extent, the importance of wetlands. The value of wetlands not only resides in their cultural and biological heritage but also derives from their contribution to the development of the country's economy.