World Wetlands Day
World wetland day is celebrated every year all across the world to commemorate the Convention on Wetlands means the Ramsar Convention which was held on 2nd of February in 1971 in the city of Ramsar, Iran at the Caspian Sea coasts. It was started celebrating for the first time in the year 1997.
How World Wetlands Day is Celebrated
It is celebrated by gathering together with common people, government agencies, NGOs, non-government organizations and people of all the community to enhance the public awareness towards the significance of wetland. To celebrate this event, variety of programs like seminars, lectures, nature walks, sampan race, poster exhibitions, video films screening, slide shows based on the wetland, art and quiz competitions, painting competition, photography exhibition, community cleanup, interviews on radio and television and etc takes place at the national level at many places. Various other new wetland policies and new Ramsar sites gets launch at this day.
Why World Wetlands Day is Celebrated
The Ramsar Convention offers an international structure in order to globally support the conservation and sustainable management of the wetlands. It is celebrated to make aware the public, discus the value of wetlands, its beneficial aspects as well as to promote its conservation and use for enhancing the overall level of the human health, growth and development. The event celebration plays a great role in making the healthy wetlands in order to deliver the worth ecosystem service to benefit the common people. The demands of water required for growing crops, energy supply and various needs of the industry are also focused during the celebration. It is celebrated to promote the proper use of wetlands and their resources.
What is the Role of the World Wetlands Day?
Unfortunately, simply signing a paper was insufficient for the protection of valuable wetland ecosystems. Many governments suggested wetlands for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance just to gain international prestige, without real commitment to the goals of the Convention on wetlands. In addition, as it was very difficult to fight the long established misconcept that wetlands have to be destroyed to provide more and more agricultural lands, the unsound agricultural practices which led to deterioration and destruction of wetlands continued both at the government and at the private sector levels. Nature conservationists had to prove with figures that society would benefit more from the protection of wetland ecosystems rather than from their destruction. However, no direct market price could be assigned to wetlands, therefore an alternative approach had to be undertaken to assign monetary value to the goods and services provided “for free” by wetlands. The proper functioning of wetlands was evaluated in terms of the important goods and services that wetlands provide to society . This approach proved partially successful, as it convinced the high-level decision-makers, therefore governments started developing wetland restoration policies. Nevertheless, quite often the implementation of the wetland conservation and restoration strategies and projects met skepticism and the resistance of local communities. This resistance is manifested mainly when these policies imposed certain limitations on the wetlands resources, and especially in poor and developing countries, where the lack of finances does not afford for providing relevant compensation to the local people, who are very much dependent on the wetlands’ products.
However, economic valuation might not always be the most appropriate mechanism for assessing the value that a wetland may have: “[e]conomic and financial valuation is not apanacea” (Lambert, 2003). There are values other than economic that have to be considered when estimating the overall benefits that wetlands provide society – amongst these are scientific, educational, religious, cultural, and aesthetic values. The wetland may provide the only sanctuary to a highly threatened endemic species (Lambert, 2003), which in the future might turn out to have an enormous value, including economic. A good example of the latter is the case of the summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum L), a wetland plant that is a substrate for the production of the famous Nivalin® – a medicine discovered in Bulgaria and used to fight poliomyelitis (Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Group Ltd.).
To increase the awareness of government officials, farmers and the general public of the multiple values and functions of wetlands, as well as of the importance of wetlands for the conservation of the Earth’s biodiversity, February 2nd – the “birthday” of the Convention on Wetlands – was officially nominated the World Wetlands Day (WWD) in 1997. Ever since, the WWD is celebrated all over the world to promote the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands.
World Wetlands Day Celebrations in India
World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year in Ahmedabad, India by organizing several activities involving both children and adults.
It is also celebrated at the WWF-India Secretariat, New Delhi to promote the common people understandings about the importance of link between wetlands and water as “without water there will be no wetlands – and without wetlands there will be no water!”.
It is also celebrated in the Jammu and Kashmir, at Mansar Wetland (a Ramsar site) with the involvement of the Department of Wildlife Protection and Department of Environment and Remote Sensing. The event is celebrated by organizing a symposium (related to event) in the presence of Honorable Minister of State for Forests, Environment and Ecology. The event is celebrated by the participation of school students, conservationists, members of panchayat, academicians, scientists and common masses.
WWF-India organizes a full day program at Asan Barrage, Dehradun, run by schools students, in association with the Samvedi and Chakrata Forest Division and Uttarakhand Forest Department.
WWF-India organizes program for school students (quiz and painting competitions) in Himachal Pradesh in association with the State Council for Environment Science and Technology and Wildlife Wing, Himachal Pradesh Forest Department.
It is also celebrated at various places in India such as Harike (a bird sanctuary in Punjab and a Ramsar site), Surajpur wetland (Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh), Bharatpur (Keoladeo National Park), Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary (U.P.) and etc.
Theme of World Wetlands Day
The themes of the world wetlands day celebrations from 1997 to 2016 are listed below:
- The theme for the world wetland day 1997 was “Benefits of Wetlands to the Human Population”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 1998 was “Conserving wetlands to ensure availability of clean water for all”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 1999 was “People and Wetlands: the Vital Link”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2000 was “Celebrating Our Wetlands of International Importance”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2001 was “Wetland world – A world to discover!”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2002 was “Wetlands: Water, Life, and Culture”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2003 was “No wetlands – no water”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2004 was “From Mountains to the Sea – Wetlands at Work for Us”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2005 was “Cultural and biological diversity in wetlands” and slogan was “There’s wealth in wetland diversity – don’t lose it”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2006 was “Wetlands as a tool in poverty alleviation”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2007 was “Fish for tomorrow?”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2008 was “Healthy Wetlands, Healthy People”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2009 was “Upstream-Downstream: Wetlands connect us all”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2010 was “Wetlands, Biodiversity and Climate Change”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2011 was “wetlands and forests – forests for water and wetlands”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2012 was “Wetlands and Tourism”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2013 was “Wetlands take care of water”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2014 was “Wetlands and Agriculture”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2015 was “Wetlands for Our Future”.
- The theme for the world wetland day 2016 would be “Wetlands for our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods”.