World Wetlands Day 2017
World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2nd February to raise global awareness about the value of wetlands for humanity and the planet. It also marks the date of adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. World Wetlands Day was celebrated for the first time in 1997.
Why Wetlands Matter
Wetlands cover a small percentage of the earth’s surface, yet they are essential systems – they are the arteries and veins of the landscape. They are rich in nature and vital to human life. They act as water sources and purifiers. They protect our shores. They are the planet’s greatest natural carbon stores. They are crucial to agriculture and fisheries. Wetlands play an important role in reducing the impact of extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and cyclones. Wetlands act as a natural sponge, absorbing and storing excess rainfall and reducing flooding. During the dry season, they release the water stored, delaying the onset of droughts and reducing water shortages. A world without wetlands is a world without water.
World Wetlands Day 2017
Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction is the theme for World Wetlands Day in 2017. The impacts of natural and man-made disasters are increasing due to climate change, poorly planned development and environmental degradation. 90% of disasters are water-related but reversing loss and damage to wetlands can be part of the solution. The frequency of natural hazards has more than doubled; the majority are climate and weather related. According to UN- Water, 90% of all natural hazards are water-related. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts even more extreme events going forward as a result of climate change. However the general public are largely unaware of how wetlands safeguard us. In fact, people often see wetlands as wasteland; something to be filled in or converted to other uses. Scientists estimate that at least 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900.
Wetlands are a source of:
Wetlands are often the engines of local economies. By using wetlands wisely and diversifying livelihood options for local communities, it is possible to reverse the trend of wetland loss, poverty and inequity.
Sufficient clean water
The demand for water is growing at more than twice the rate of population increase. Competition between water for human consumption, agriculture and energy is intensifying. By improving water sharing and restoring wetlands, water supplies can be safeguarded.
By adjusting water and agricultural practices in wetlands and incorporating wetlands in agricultural landscapes, long term food security can be assured and biodiversity enhanced.
Wetlands are amongst the earth’s top carbon stores. By conserving and restoring high carbon wetlands we can reduce carbon emissions and increase our capacity to adapt to climate change, while improving biodiversity, water security and human well-being.
Diverse and beautiful nature
Wetlands support abundant and unique nature, but freshwater biodiversity has declined drastically since the 1970s. Concerted action by individuals, civil society groups, governments and the private sector is urgently needed to reverse this trend.