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Governments urged to reverse worldwide wetland loss

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  • Wetland values, status and trends

Wetlands International advocates a focus on a key role for wetlands in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and for strengthening resolutions on peatlands and on disaster risk reduction; and an increased budget at the 12th global wetland conference (Ramsar COP12) in Punta del Este, Uruguay (1-9 June 2015).

Punta del Este, Uruguay – A Ramsar Convention with an increased budget and stronger resolutions. This is the objective of Wetlands International at the 12th Conference of Parties (1-9 June) of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, also known as the Ramsar Convention. The global NGO, through a multi-office team of wetland experts, will make the case that stepping up action to implement the new Ramsar Strategic Plan is vital to slow and reverse wetland loss, as a major contribution to sustainable development. Furthermore, it will encourage Parties to strengthen resolutions on disaster risk reduction and peatlands for their crucial services in protecting people´s lives and mitigation climate change, respectively.

At this global wetland conference, some crucial commitments will be made the COP by the country delegations that are party to the Ramsar Convention. In these times of rapid change, new threats to wetlands emerge with an unprecedented frequency and impacts. Unsustainable luxury housing and tourism developments destroy coastal wetlands such as mangroves. The expansion of soybean cultivation in South America generates the loss and degradation of wetlands and the key services that these ecosystems provide. Palm oil expansion is ravaging tropical peatlands of Southeast Asia. In the Northern hemisphere drained peatlands go up in smoke or are devastated for oil production; all of these activities fuel global climate change and affect biodiversity, but also jeopardize long-term sustainable development.

“We have lost so much of our wetland treasure and what remains is under growing pressure. As a result, people and nature are becoming more and more vulnerable. Governments, NGOs and the private sector urgently need to commit to work together to turn this around. The Ramsar Convention COP12 needs to make the rallying call“, states CEO Madgwick.

Ramsar and the Sustainable Development Goals

Through a keynote presentation, CEO Jane Madgwick will make the case for strengthening the link between new Ramsar Strategic Plan and the Sustainable Development Goals which are to be agreed at the SDG Summit in SeptemberThe Special Presentation “Could the SDGs help save wetlands?” by Madgwick is on Thursday 4th at 10.00am in the plenary. Being the CEO of one of the convention´s International Organization Partner (IOP), Madgwick will also address the plenary on Tuesday 4p.m.  For more presentations and side events, see the list below.

Wetlands for disaster risk reduction

Wetland degradation and loss (global losses and degradation of wetlands of at least 64% since 1900 and around 87% since 1700 – Davidson, 2014) contributes to the vulnerability of wetland-dependent communities. Given that 90% of disasters are caused by water-related hazards like floods and droughts, wetlands and the ecosystem services they provide are now considered critical to reduce disaster and climate risks and to build resilience to climatic extremes.  This was recognised in the recently agreed Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the urgency to restore and better manage wetlands for these reasons needs to be picked up in Resolution XII.13 Wetlands and disaster risk reduction.

Peatlands and climate change

Wetlands International urges for the inclusion of several crucial elements in the Resolution XII.11 “Peatlands, climate change and wise use” to promote peatland restoration and wise use to help mitigate climate change. As existing knowledge is lacking on peatlands in the some highland areas, the Arctic, boreal forests and tropical Africa, we call for inventory and their assessment.

To help countries to face these threats in a timely and adequate manner, Wetlands International recommends to Parties an increase in the budget of the Ramsar convention by 4% for the triennium 2016?2018. The country delegations will have to vote on the budget, which will be discussed in the plenary of Thursday.

Wetlands International’s participation:

Wetlands International is organizing side events with its partners to support these calls, but also to showcase its experiences from its wide range of activities:

  • Keynote speech of IOPs (Tues. 2nd 16.00-18.00, plenary)
  • Peatlands, climate regulation and biodiversity in a Ramsar perspective (Wed. 3rd, 13.15-14.45 Rio de Jan. B)
  • Special Presentation: Could the SDGs help save wetlands? Jane Madgwick, CEO of Wetlands International (Thu 4th 10:00 – 10:30, plenary)
  • Northern and Arctic wetlands (Wed. 3rd, 18.15-19.45 Rio de Janeiro B)
  • Humedales, actividades productivas y cambio climático en la Cuenca del Plata: Aportes desde la Sociedad Civil (Thu. 4th 13.15-14.45, Caribe – Spanish)
  • Wetlands and Disaster Risk Reduction: resilient communities (Sat. 6th, 13.15-14.45, Rio de Janeiro B)
  • Caring for Coasts – conserving and restoring wetlands, reducing coastal risk (Sat. 6th, 13.15-14.45, Barriloche)
  • Celebrating Wetland Cultures of the World (Sat. 6th, 18.15-19.45, Punta del Este B)
  • Regional Wetland Symposia (Mon. 8th, 18.15-19.45, Punta del Este A)
  • IWRM in the Tigris – Euphrates River Basin and Hawizeh Marsh (Mon. 8th, 18.15-19.45, Punta del Este B)

IOP Opening Statement at Ramsar COP12


The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, called the Ramsar Convention, is the intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

The Convention was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975. Since then, almost 90% of UN member states, from all the world’s geographic regions, have acceded to become “Contracting Parties”. See

For more information:

Sander Carpay
Communications Coordinator
Wetlands International Latin America & Caribbean – Panamá Office
[email protected]
Whattsapp: +507 65432381

Marta Andelman
Communications Coordinator
Wetlands International Latin America & Caribbean – Argentina Office
[email protected]