World Wetlands Day 2008 -- Botswana

20/02/2008

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

wetland greetings

the wetlands march approaching

Bernadette Malala, District Councillor

choral music

District Councillor, Hon. Minister, and Permanent Secretary

Anada Tiega, Ramsar Secretary General

drama

exhibits

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

traditional dancing

unveiling the commemorative plaque

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
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2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,342

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