Wetlands Action for People and Nature
Wetlands and water resources play crucial and irreplaceable roles in achieving the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. On this first celebration of UN World Wetlands Day, let us act together and take care of our wetlands as a healthy kidney of our planet. For better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life for all – leaving no one behind.Qu Dongyu, Director- General, Food and Agricultural Organization
World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2nd February. It marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the Caspian Sea’s shores. It aims to raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands. Generating support for the conservation and sustainable management of the wetlands is the focus of the observation. A wetland of international importance is often referred to as a Ramsar site. We are in the second year of the UN Decades of Ocean Science and Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030). There is a need to invest financial, human, and political capital to save the world’s wetlands from disappearing. Restoration of the degraded wetlands is equally essential. Wetlands are often viewed as a wasteland. Observation of Wetlands Day is the ideal time to increase people’s understanding of these critically important ecosystems. Recognising the need to protect the wetlands, the UN has adopted the resolution to observe 2 February as World Wetlands Day.
Wetlands occur where water meets land and are the areas saturated or flooded with water either permanently or seasonally. The wetlands are classified mainly based on the dominant plants or the water source. Inland wetlands include mangroves, marshes, and ponds. Coastal wetlands include saltwater marshes, estuaries, lagoons, and coral reefs. They exist in every country and climatic zone, from the polar regions to the tropics and from high altitudes to dry areas. The latest to be added to the list of wetlands of international importance is “the Maritime-Terrestrial National Park of the Atlantic Islands of Galicia” in Spain. While a lot of stress is laid on protecting forests, often referred to as the lungs of the Earth, awareness about the contributions of wetlands in maintaining a healthy ecosystem is less. Wetlands are great filters. They trap sediments and remove pollutants, which helps to purify water. Wetlands store our water to ensure supply during dry periods.
It is reported that nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared or degraded since the 1700s. The world is losing wetlands three times faster than forests. Ramsar Convention on Wetlands reports estimates that 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1900. The loss of wetlands is even higher in some regions, notably Asia. Inland wetlands are disappearing at a faster pace than coastal ones. Like in many other countries, the wetlands in India are also fast disappearing. One of the reasons attributed to the recent devastation caused by the 2015 floods in Chennai is vanishing wetlands.
Situated in southeast Siberia, Lake Baikal is the oldest and deepest lake in the world. The Okavango Delta (Botswana) brings life to people and wildlife in the Kalahari Desert, and efforts to preserve it illustrates how international cooperation over shared heritage resources. India has many of the Ramsar sites, and to name a few: Chilika Lake, Kolleru Lake, Loktak Lake. Chilika lake is the second largest coastal lagoon globally, the most significant wintering ground for migratory birds, and the first wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in India. Kolleru Lake, located between Krishna and Godavari river deltas, is an essential habitat for birds like Siberian cranes, painted storks and spot-billed pelican birds in India. Loktak Lake in Manipur is a freshwater lake and home to the only floating national park globally, Keibul Lamjao National Park.
People are using more freshwater than Nature can replenish, destroying the ecosystem that water and all life depend on most – the Wetlands. Water and wetlands are connected in an inseparable co-existence vital to life, our wellbeing, and our planet’s health. There is no “Planet B”, at least for now. The world communities must work together to protect the irreplaceable World Heritage wetlands for current and future generations to come. The role of local and indigenous communities is also vital in protecting them. Technology is effectively being used to trace and monitor satellite imagery and open access to them, enhancing awareness. While all the intelligence and efforts of humankind are to enhance the quality of life and ensure the planet survives, the greed of many to exploit the resources in whatever way can lead to destruction and pushes the world to reach the destination of destruction. There is a place for everything, and Nature can create systems to sustain mother earth. Observations like these are reminders that each of us has a role to play. As Mahatma Gandhi said, Nature has enough to meet the requirement of the people, but unfortunately, it does not have enough to satisfy the greed of humans.
Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.Mahatma Gandhi
ToonLogs written on the “world wetlands day” in 2021 can be accessed at