Around five years ago, on November 8th 2010, I began my internship at the National Environment Management Authority. On this first day, even before I sat down and came to terms that graduation was just around the corner and I would become a ‘certified environmentalist’, I was ushered into a boardroom for a planning meeting towards the 2011 WWD Celebrations.
Some of the thoughts I had as I walked into that room included:
I. Who are these other people?
II. Why does this seem to be a big deal?
III. How long will this meeting take? I see mandazi and tea!
IV. What is WWD anyway?
So to demystify this…
A wetland is a place where the land is covered by water, either salt, fresh or somewhere in between. Marshes and ponds, the edge of a lake or ocean, the delta at the mouth of a river, low-lying areas that frequently flood—all of these are wetlands (WWF 2016)
Wetlands are some of the most productive habitats on earth. They support high concentrations of animals—including mammals, birds, fish and invertebrates—and serve as nurseries for many of these species. In addition to this, they provide a range of ecosystem services that benefit humanity, including water filtration, storm protection, flood control and recreation. (WWF 2016)
Unfortunately, we consider wetlands, ‘wastelands’. Many wetlands have been drained to pave way for ‘development’ such as housing for the worlds growing population and agriculture to provide food for the people. Environmental agencies and governments have made steps to conserve and protect wetlands through the Ramsar Convention which is the only international treaty devoted to a single ecosystem type.
2 February each year is World Wetlands Day (WWD). This day 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. (www.worldwetlandsday.org). The aim of the day is to raise awareness on the importance of wetlands. Each year has a different theme on the value and relationship of wetlands to and with other facets of the ecosystem. Wetlands for our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods is the theme for World Wetlands Day in 2016. This theme is selected to demonstrate the vital role of wetlands for the future of humanity and specifically their relevance towards achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals.
The reason as to why it is a big deal and involves a number of stakeholders is because to ensure that there is a future for wetlands we must work together and understand the benefits of its conservation. For this message to be passed far and wide, more people need to know, more people need to share, more people must be committed to the cause.
For more details on Wetlands and World Wetlands Day, please check out: