World Wetlands Day falls on 2 February every year, and every year it presents us with a welcome opportunity to join together in celebrating the benefits that we all receive from wetlands, as well as to raise the awareness of our fellow citizens about the importance of these vital ecosystems for our common future. As we have done since the first World Wetlands Day back in 1997, we in the Ramsar Secretariat have focused on an appropriate particular theme and offered a range of materials, with financial support from the Danone Group, that we hope will help to animate WWD activities at all levels.
This year’s theme, Wetlands, Biodiversity and Climate Change, with the slogan “Caring for wetlands: an answer to climate change”, captures the sense of urgency we all feel about the need to address the potentially disastrous consequences of global climate change as quickly as possible, particularly in the wake of the Copenhagen meeting of the UNFCCC back in December, and it emphasizes our belief that the role of wetlands in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change must be central in all future debates about the way forward. Our colorful leaflet lays out many of the ways in which anticipated climate change may affect the health and productivity of the world’s wetlands, and it identifies some of the ways in which healthy wetlands contribute very significantly to potential solutions.
Moreover, 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, and nations and environmental organizations are trying to assess our progress in achieving the 2010 biodiversity target agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002. In our materials for WWD 2010, we have tried to provide a sense of how wetland biodiversity can be adversely affected by climate change and, most of all, of the importance of robust biological diversity in maintaining the wetlands’ ability to provide the ecosystem services, in the face of climate change effects, upon which we all depend.
Most importantly, we are trying to emphasize, not only that wetlands must be a key part of any progress in global climate change issues, but also that the problems of climate change must be a addressed in a holistic, multi-sectoral, ecosystem-based manner – piecemeal solutions to individual problems may have the unforeseen consquences of impacting negatively upon other sectors and worsening our overall problems still further. Our leaflet for 2010 identifies some of the steps that can be taken to minimize those risks.
On behalf of the Ramsar Secretariat, I encourage you to take part in World Wetlands Day at the appropriate local or national level, to join with us in renewing our commitment to making sure that the benefits of wetlands are understood by decision-makers, and to continue to raise the awareness of our fellow citizens, throughout the year, about the importance of well-functioning wetlands for all of us.
Mr Anada Tiéga