Celebrated annually on 2 February, World Wetlands Day aims to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and planet. The Day also marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
The Standing Committee of the Convention on Wetlands approved the themes for World Wetlands Day as follows:
- Wetlands and Climate Change, theme for 2019
- Wetlands and Biodiversity, theme for 2020
- Wetlands and Water, theme for 2021
Wetlands and Water
“Wetlands and water”, the theme for WWD 2021, shines a spotlight on wetlands as a source of freshwater and encourages actions to restore them and stop their loss.
We are facing a growing freshwater crisis that threatens people and our planet. We use more freshwater than nature can replenish, and we are destroying the ecosystem that water and all life depend on most – Wetlands.
The 2021 campaign highlights the contribution of wetlands to the quantity and quality of freshwater on our planet. Water and wetlands are connected in an inseparable co-existence that is vital to life, our wellbeing and the health of our planet.
What wetlands do?
Fresh and saltwater wetlands sustain humanity and nature. They support our social and economic development through multiple services:
1- Store and clean water
- Wetlandsholdandprovide most of our freshwater.
- They naturally filter pollutants, leaving water we can safely drink.
2- Keep us fed
- Aquaculture is the fastest-growing food production sector, while inland fisheries alone provided 12 million tonnes of fish in 2018.
- Rice paddies feed 3.5 billion people annually.
3- Underpin our global economy
- Wetlands, the most valuable ecosystem, provide services worth US $47 trillion a year.
- More than one billion people rely on wetlands for income.
4- Provide nature a home
- 40% of the world’s species live and breed in wetlands. Annually, about 200 new fish species discovered in freshwater wetlands.
- Coral reefs are home to 25% of all species.
5- Keep us safe
- Wetlands provide protection from floods and storms with each acre of wetland absorbing up to 1.5 million gallons of floodwater.
- Wetlands help regulate the climate: peatlands store twice as much carbon as forests, with salt marshes, mangroves, and seagrass beds also holding vast amounts of carbon.
So what are the solutions to water scarcity?
We could have enough water for nature and us if we:
- Stop destroying, start restoring wetlands.
- Don’t dam rivers or over extract from aquifers.
- Address pollution, cleanup freshwater sources.
- Increase water efficiency, use wetlands wisely.
- Integrate water and wetlands into development plans and resource management.