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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.

The UN General Assembly on 30 August 2021 adopted Resolution 75/317 that established 2 February as World Wetlands Day.

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 2022 has 49 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 10,93,636 hectares, the highest in South Asia.

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 2022 - Wetlands Action for People and Nature

Wetlands Action for People and Nature is the theme in 2022 highlighting the importance of actions to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands for humans and planetary health.

A call to take action for wetlands is the focus of this years’ campaign. It's an appeal to invest financial, human and political capital to save the world’s wetlands from disappearing and to restore those we have degraded.

Coming at a critical time for all of society to commit further actions to overcoming the climate and biodiversity crises, this campaign seeks to raise awareness of the vital services wetlands provide us and their importance for regulating our climate, reversing biodiversity risk and ensuring a sustainable future for people and nature.

Three Main Messages

  • Value wetlands for the multiple benefits and nature-based solutions they provide for human well-being and a healthy planet.
  • Manage wetlands wisely and use them sustainably so we can conserve them and maintain the health of these critically important ecosystems.
  • Restore lost and degraded wetlands to revive the rich biodiversity and life found in these life-sustaining ecosystems.

Benefits of wetlands

Store and clean water

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

Life providers

  • Rice paddies feed 3.5 billion people annually.
  • 1 billion livelihoods
  • Most efficient land-based carbon stores
  • Host 40% of global species

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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