Award for Urban Wetland Planning in France

Many wetlands in urban and peri-urban environments are or are becoming degraded due to surrounding populations, pollution and poorly managed waste, among other factors. As a consequence, the ecosystem services that urban wetlands can provide have diminished and it is therefore essential for both decision-makers and urban communities to recognize their value and importance.

The French Department of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transportation and Housing launched an award in July 2011 for “wetlands in an urban environment”, in partnership with the Mayors of France and water agencies. A ceremony was organised early February to reward French local authorities that have implemented strategies of urbanization by considering wetlands and their benefits in urban development.

The award panel opens the prize ceremony

Ramsar’s National Focal Point in France, Emmanuel Thiry attended the award ceremony along with Thymio Papayannis (himself the winner of the “Ramsar Recognition of Achievement Award” for his work on wetland conservation, wise use and the cultural values of wetlands) who was a member of the award panel. The panel awarded one “Grand Prix”, seven thematic prizes and acknowledged six communities for their interesting environmental approaches.

Thymio Papayannis congratulates a local authority representativeGroup photo of Award winners and  panel members

Urban wetlands have been an ongoing topic of interest to the Ramsar Convention. In 2008, at COP10, a resolution was adopted that urged its “Contracting Parties to formulate and implement their land-use planning and management so as to minimize further future impacts on urban wetlands and on those currently in peri-urban or rural situations that are vulnerable to urban encroachment.”

At Ramsar’s next Conference of the Parties in July, member countries will agree on principles and guidance for the planning and management of urban and peri-urban wetlands. Understanding the relationship between water and cities is crucial. Cities can generate immense ‘water footprints’ through a range of consumptive and non-consumptive activities. Unsustainable planning and subsequent use of water resources to support urban populations can have significant impacts on wetlands and the biodiversity they support, far beyond the peri-urban environment.

Additional links:

Leaflet on the urban wetlands Award winners (PDF in French)

COP10 Resolution on wetlands and urbanization (PDF)

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