World Wetlands Day 2021: wetlands are the freshwater sources

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This World Wetlands Day we celebrate how wetlands are essential for water and provide for life.

World Wetlands Day, celebrated each year on 2 February, raises global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet. The world is facing a growing freshwater crisis that threatens people and our planet. This year shines a spotlight on wetlands as a source of freshwater and encourages actions to restore them and stop their loss.

Wetlands are the water systems in the landscape, capturing, storing and releasing water but they are increasingly being drained, dammed and developed over leading to their degradation. This in turn reduces available freshwater, affecting the poorest and most vulnerable and causing biodiversity to go into freefall.

But by safeguarding and restoring the world’s wetlands, we can change this. We need wetlands and water if we’re to achieve the SDGs, and mitigate and adapt to climate change. Our video below sets out the ambition we need to bring back our wetlands at the scale and pace needed to meet the challenge.

World Wetlands Day marks the date of adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the only multilateral environmental agreement to date that focuses solely on the conservation and wise use of wetlands, of which Wetlands International plays an instrumental role. This year is the Convention’s 50th anniversary.

Check out some of the online events and activities across our network marking this day.

East Africa

Each year, our colleagues in Kenya and NEMA (National Environmental Management Authority) host a national digital arts competition in celebration of World Wetlands Day. Entries consist of drawings, cartoons, videography, photography and paintings capturing how wetlands have affected artists’ day-to-day life. This year, five winners have been selected and will be awarded prizes at a later date. The national event will be held at the Sabaki Estuary in Malindi. Stay up to date here, to find out who the winners of the competition are!

South Asia

Wetlands International in South Asia is organising a virtual plenary discussion on issues surrounding wetlands and water in the South Asia region. The high-level event will see participation of representatives from government institutions, think tanks and research institutes, academia, civil society, the private sector, and media, including Hon’ble Member of Parliament Shri Suresh Prabhu. Find out more here.

Our colleagues in the South Asia office have also taken up the Live Simply Challenge, offered by environmentalist, technologist, and a social and educational reformer Dr Sonam Wangchuk, one of the panellists of the discussion. The challenge requires every individual to take pledges signifying small, everyday changes that contribute to a healthier planet, with an objective of reducing our carbon footprint totalling to a cost of $100,000 based on the net CO2 emissions. Collectively our colleagues have put together 75 pledges equalling a total of $400,000 and exceeding our goal by fourfold.

Europe and Latin America

SAVE THE DATE: The Paraguay-Paraná wetland is one of the world’s largest and last remaining examples of a free-flowing rivers system with significance, not just for Latin America, but for the whole of the world – from biodiversity to food production. This unique ecosystem has been ravaged by drought and fires since 2019 threatening its wildlife, water systems and public health.

This session, open to the public, will facilitate an exchange between those active on the ground and EU institutions involved in the global-facing aspects of the EU Green Deal, including measures to tackle the global biodiversity and climate challenges.

Save the date for a special EU-Latin America webinar on 22 March, hosted by our Europe and Latin America offices, building on this year’s World Wetlands Day theme of wetlands and water. Pre-register for the event here.