World Wetlands Day

This Sunday is World Wetlands Day – a day to remember the signing of the Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention. WWD (not to be confused with Women’s Wear Daily for you eco-friendly fashionistas) was first celebrated in 1997 to commemorate the signing on 2 February 1971. Since its encouraging beginning, the day has become an opportunity to raise public awareness of the importance of caring for our wetlands, as well as the benefits of the Ramsar Convention the world over.

Background on Rasmar Convention

The convention was originally named the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. I think they had the foresight to know that in the future there would be a social platform with a blue ‘tweeting’ bird as an emblem, which would only allow for expression within 140 characters. It was later named after the Iranian city, Ramsar, wherein the Convention was signed. It is an international treaty for the sustainable use of wetlands. In signing the treaty, the main goal was to reduce the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands - now and in the future. The convention was inspired by the benefits of the precious wetlands, which extends further than fundamental ecological functions. Their economic, cultural, scientific and recreational value is irreplaceable.

This year’s theme

The theme for the 2014 World Wetlands Day is ‘Wetlands and Agriculture’, which ties in with the UN proclaiming the year 2014’s theme as the Year of Family Farming. So, the slogan for the day is ‘Wetlands and Agriculture: Partners for Growth’. According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the focus this year will be placed on calling for collaboration. In particular, they see a need for the wetland, water and agriculture sectors to work together for the best shared outcomes. You can find out more about what is happening globally on Ramsar Convention’s site.

Local awareness event

Our National Department of Environmental Affairs are really making South Africa proud with their event this Friday, which has been called ‘Celebration of Wetlands Day 2014’. It will be led by the Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Mrs. Rejoice Mabudafhasi. There will be an official handover of the Ramsar Certificate to Umgeni Vlei Nature Reserve. The certificate will signify the international importance of these specific wetlands, which is defined in terms of Ramsar’s criteria. It all takes place at Mbongolwane Sports Ground in Eshowe. Visit their site for more details.

Your part for the wetlands

We can all do our part too. The grandeur of the gesture is not what truly matters, rather the sentiment behind it. Start a conversation with your friends, or spend a day out in the wetlands just enjoying its beauty. For those of you who unfortunately live too far from the nearest wetlands, make sure to schedule a visit on your next holiday to experience the beauty and diversity of these unique ecosystems. wish you all a happy World Wetlands Day.