Statement by Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands on World Wetlands Day 2 February 2021

Statement by Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands on World Wetlands Day 2 February 2021

19 January 2021

Water, wetlands and life are inseparable

All of us would agree that freshwater is essential for life, without water there can be no life. Yet how many worry about the health of the ecosystems that are the source of our freshwater?

We are in a water crisis with profound consequences and wetlands are at the heart of its resolution. Less than 1% of water on Earth is usable freshwater and is mostly stored in wetlands such as rivers, streams, lakes, marshes, estuaries and aquifers. We consume at least 10 billion tons of fresh water daily – more than the earth can replenish. Yet, we will require 55% more water by 2050 for a global population of 10 billion people. 

Our unsustainable demand for freshwater is putting enormous pressure on wetlands.

Furthermore, all our water sources are polluted from chemicals, plastic or untreated wastewater – leaving 2.2 billion people drinking unsafe water and nearly half a million dying each year from it. We demand for more fresh water, yet destroy the means by which we get it. Nearly 90% of our wetlands, including rivers, lakes, marshes and peatlands have vanished, and we continue to lose wetlands three times faster than forests.

We disconnect our dependence on water from what we do to wetlands.

We must better understand and value what wetlands do for water.

By harvesting, storing, filtering and releasing water where and when it is needed, wetlands ensure a constant supply of clean freshwater, indispensable for consumption, irrigation and energy production, as well as for the functioning of ecosystems.

Interdependent and inseparable, water and wetlands are vital partners for life, providing a home to 40% of the world’s species.

We could have enough water for our present and future. If we change.

We must be water efficient in every area. Industry alone could reduce its water use by up to 50%, while agriculture, by far the biggest consumer of water, has diverse ways to get more ‘crop per drop’.

We must stop destroying and start restoring wetlands.

All of us, whether in the agricultural or industrial sector to every individual in their own daily life, it is our collective responsibility to save water and to conserve wetlands.

Significant investments are required in wetlands as natural solutions for water management, as well as enacting policies that integrate wetlands into management plans. All are decisive actions, towards a green economy and paramount to building back better.

Join us this World Wetlands Day, in the 50th anniversary year of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands to accelerate actions that conserve and restore the world’s wetlands.

Let us make changes that value wetlands, in order to secure our freshwater.

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