World Wetlands theme for 2006 was “Livelihoods at risk”. This includes all wetlands from arctic lakes to coral reefs, from karst wetlands to mangroves. World Wetlands Day 2006 dealt with the issues of people's well-being and wetland conservation at the heart of wise use.
Livelihoods of wetland dependant people depend fully on water production and protection agriculture, livestock grazing, fisheries and handicraft industry - and inappropriate wetland management, unwise use, and of course droughts, can cause complete breakdown of the rural sustainable livelihoods, with poverty as a result. With change in the ecological character of the wetlands and drought affecting livelihoods it is clear that sustaining livelihood and well-being is also dependent on the condition of the wetlands; and that wetland maintenance is dependent on wise use, including basin scale management.
World Wetlands Day 2006 helped to explore the many ways that wetlands can and should play a role in improving human well-being, including through poverty reduction. And while poverty alleviation is a key target for some parts of the world, the principles that conservation and wise use of wetlands will help reduce poverty and promote better human well-being is real EVERYWHERE. For if we do not achieve sustainable use of wetlands, even where there is currently no poverty, there is the potential for it to develop.