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World Wetlands Day

World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February. This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

About Wetlands

A broad definition of wetlands 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. They provide essential services and supply all our fresh water. However they continue to be degraded and converted to other uses.

The wise use of wetlands is “the maintenance of their ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of sustainable development”. Wise use can thus be seen as the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands and all the services they provide, for the benefit of people and nature.

For the list of Wetlands of International Importance, click here.

Wetlands in India

India is endowed by a rich diversity of wetlands ranging from high altitude wetlands of Himalayas, floodplains of mighty rivers as Ganges and Brahmaputra, lagoons and mangrove marshes on the coastline and reefs in the marine environments. As per National Wetland Atlas, India has nearly 4.6% of its land as wetlands, covering an area of 15.26 million hectares.  

India became a party to the Ramsar Convention in 1982, and as on January 2021 has 42 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 1.08 million hectares.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, as the nodal Ministry for wetlands conservation have been assisting State Governments since 1985 in design and implementation of integrated management plans. Financial assistance has been provided to State Governments for implementation of management plans for 180 wetlands. In 2017, the Ministry has also notified the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules as the regulatory framework for wetlands in the country. Several states have also notified wetland authorities and acts and rules for conservation and wise-use of wetlands.

The Ramsar Convention

The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

Under the “three pillars” of the Convention, the 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
  • cooperate internationally on transboundary wetlands, shared wetland systems and shared species.

Source : RAMSAR

Theme for 2021 - Wetlands and Water 

The year 2021 also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971 in Ramsar, Iran. 

Fresh and saltwater wetlands sustain humanity and nature. They support our social and economic development through multiple services:

Store and clean water

  • Wetlands hold and provide most of our fresh water.
  • They naturally filter pollutants, leaving water we can safely drink.

Keep us fed

  • Aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector, while inland fisheries alone provided 12 million tonnes of fish in 2018.
  • Rice paddies feed 3.5 billion people annually.

Underpin our global economy

  • •  Wetlands, the most valuable ecosystem, provide services worth US $47 trillion a year.
  • More than one billion people rely on wetlands for income.

Provide nature a home

  • 40% of the world’s species live and breed in wetlands. Annually, about 200 new fish species discovered in freshwater wetlands.
  • Coral reefs are home to 25% of all species.

Keep us safe

  • Wetlands provide protection from floods and storms with each acre of wetland absorbing up to 1.5 million gallons of floodwater.
  • Wetlands help regulate the climate: peatlands store twice as much carbon as forests, with saltmarshes, mangroves and seagrass beds also holding vast
    amounts of carbon

Source : World Wetlands Day

Wetlands and Waster - The Facts

Related Resources

  1. The Ramsar Fact Sheets
  2. The Ramsar Convention
  3. The Fourth Ramsar Strategic Plan 2016-2024


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