World Wetlands Day 2008 -- Botswana
REPORT ON THE COMMEMORATION OF WORLD WETLANDS DAY IN BOTSWANA
Botswana Government through the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism (MEWT) organised a number of activities to commemorate World Wetlands Day 2008. These included a International Wetlands Conference, a public panel discussion referred to as Environment and Development Dialogue and an official ceremony on World Wetlands Day (2nd February 2008) to celebrate wetlands and for Botswana to showcase the completion of the planning phase of the Okavango Delta Management Plan (ODMP). The ceremonial event was graced by the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, Dr Anada Tiega, the American Ambassador to Botswana Ms Catharine Canavan, Swedish Embassy Representative, Ms Therese Sjomander Magnusson, representatives from riparian states of Angola and Namibia. The Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Honourable Onkokame Kitso Mokaila, whose ministry houses the ODMP, gave an official speech at the event. The Honourable Minister in his address encouraged unity and accountability by all levels of society for the good health of our wetlands. The other highlight of the day at the commemoration was the sharing of an indigenous experience of the dynamics of the delta system by an elder Mrs Arothe Kwerepe.
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretary General, Dr Anada Tiega, in his message congratulated Botswana for a completed Okavango Delta Management Plan and encouraged all to implement the plan for the conservation and wise use of the complex, but fragile Jewel of Africa; The Okavango Delta. He also stressed the importance of the World Wetlands Day as it provides all with the opportunity to join together around the world to celebrate the benefits that we receive from wetlands, and to help raise awareness of these vital ecosystems for our common future.
The highlight of the day was the unveiling of a plaque to mark the importance of wetlands in people's livelihoods and the completion of the Okavango Delta Management Plan.
A number of activities took place at the official ceremony which included a wetlands march, wetlands fair, drama, songs and poetry all reflecting on the theme for the day "Healthy People, Healthy Wetlands".
The commemoration was concluded by launching of the Secretariat offices of the Permanent Okavango River Basin Water Commission (OKACOM) by the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism for Botswana. OKACOM is a tripartite agreement on the joint management of the Okavango River Basin.
Report on the Wetlands Conference to Mark the Completion of the Okavango Delta Management Plan, 31 January - 1 February 2008, and the Environment and Development Dialogue: Okavango Delta Wetland Management, 31 January 2008 (PDF)
Dignitaries arriving by wetland
the wetlands march approaching
Bernadette Malala, District Councillor
District Councillor, Hon. Minister, and Permanent Secretary
Anada Tiega, Ramsar Secretary General
the high table
Hon. Minister Onkokame Kitso Mokaila
Kgosi Kealetile Moremi
another choral group
oral history by Arothe Kwerepe
present for the Secretary General
present for the Minister
prize giving teachers and pupils
prizes for exhibitions
Froggy and Thothi, the water mascots
unveiling the commemorative plaque