World Wetlands Day 2006 in Switzerland
World Wetlands Day in Geneva on Sunday, 5 February 2006
The Geneva Cantonal authority, the Museum of Natural History of Geneva, the Ramsar Secretariat, the College of Engineers (HES Lullier), the Association pour la Sauvegarde du Léman-ASL, and several local NGOs pooled efforts and resources to host a World Wetlands Day event last Sunday beside Lake Geneva, at the entrance to the Jetée des Pâquis.
Each organization took a stand to display an aspect of wetland conservation, and bird-watching was of course one of the main attractions. Guides with binoculars and telescopes from the "Groupe des Jeunes de Nos Oiseaux-Genève", "Pro Natura-Genève", "La Libellule" and "l'école d'ingénieurs HES de Lullier" shared their knowledge with visitors, helping them discover the different species of waterbirds on the lake.
The Ramsar Secretariat stand focused on wetlands and their role for conservation, management and future development from an international perspective, and also explained the reasons for the choice of this year's slogan "in the face of poverty . Wetlands are lifelines".
Despite freezing temperatures and the northerly "bise" wind, it was a very well attended event as the excellent location was on the route of hardy Sunday strollers along the lakeside. A special mention of gratitude should go to a local association, the GMC, who set up a "canteen lorry" providing hot drinks to everyone - see photos in which the ancient, refitted, American army truck features prominently.
We were glad to welcome people with different backgrounds and interests, children and adults, professionals and non-professionals, bird-watchers and walkers as well as colleagues and friends.
Spreading the Ramsar message on the occasion of World Wetlands Day provided an excellent challenge to explain the importance of water and wetlands, their functions and values, the different approaches in Europe and other regions of the World by using a range of Ramsar materials. For the local audience inevitably, the sheet describing the 11 designated Swiss Ramsar Sites was most interesting.