Today is World Wetlands Day, celebrated on 2nd Feb each year to mark the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971.
The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (aka the Ramsar Convention) is an intergovernmental treaty providing a framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
The Convention was adopted in the city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975. Since then, almost 90% of UN member states, from all the world’s geographic regions, have become ‘Contracting Parties’.
There are currently:
- 169 Contracting Parties
- 2,227 Ramsar Sites
- 214,875,598 ha of designated Ramsar sites.
The Ramsar Convention: mission
The Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international co-operation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.
The Convention uses a broad definition of wetlands. It includes all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.
Wetlands are among the most diverse and productive ecosystems, providing essential services and supplying all our fresh water. However, the degradation and conversion of wetlands to other uses is common.
Under the three pillars of the Convention, all Contracting Parties commit to:
- work towards the wise use of all their wetlands;
- designate suitable wetlands for the list of Wetlands of International Importance (the ‘Ramsar List’) and ensure their effective management;
- co-operate internationally on transboundary wetlands, shared wetland systems and shared species.