World Wetland Day - History, Significance, Objective

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 3, 2022, 8:05

World Wetland Day is celebrated on February 2. Wetlands are areas of land covered with water at least seasonally, providing habitat for a vast diversity of plants and animals. They come in many shapes and sizes - from large lakes to marshes, swamps, rivers and flooded forests.

In addition to being essential habitats for biodiversity, wetlands also have numerous benefits for humans, such as storing carbon and regulating the effects of climate change; filtering pollutants out of waterways; reducing flood risk by holding back water; recharging groundwater supplies; providing food, medicine and materials; supporting local livelihoods through fishing and tourism; as well as offering opportunities for recreation such as birdwatching or boating.

World Wetland Day Significance

2nd February is celebrated as World Wetland Day every year to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet. It marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on February 2 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

Each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular.

Wetlands Action for People and Nature

Wetlands are among the world's most productive environments. They're a valuable resource for nature and people, but they are under threat from climate change, pollution, water extraction, and urban development. Yet if planned and managed sustainably, urban expansion can provide an opportunity to restore and create wetlands that deliver multiple benefits to people and nature.

Wetlands Action for People and Nature was the theme for World Wetland Day (WWD) 2022. The loss of wetlands has significant consequences for biodiversity conservation and human well-being. Wetlands are critically important to life on Earth; they are home to many plants and animals and help maintain a delicate balance between water, land, and air.

Many migrating birds rely on wetlands during their seasonal travels. Wetlands can improve water quality by trapping sediments and pollutants.

What is the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands?

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation to conserve and wise use of wetlands and their resources. It includes lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands and peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, near-shore marine areas, mangroves and coral reefs, and human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.

Wetlands can be found on every continent except Antarctica. They are incredibly diverse and vary widely in size, type and location. Some wetlands occur naturally, but people have created many more through drainage or filling. The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance now includes 2433 sites covering over 250 million hectares!

Each year, government agencies, non-governmental organizations and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular.

Wetlands are also called the "kidneys of the landscape" because they filter sediments and pollutants from water. Healthy wetlands act like sponges that absorb floodwaters and slowly release them into streams and rivers. Wetlands help reduce erosion, provide natural water filtration and minimize damage caused by storms. Their preservation is essential for maintaining biodiversity.

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FAQs on World Wetland Day

1) When is World Wetland Day celebrated every year?

World Wetland Day is celebrated on February 2 every year. Every year, World Wetland Day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands.

2) What was the theme for World Wetland Day in 2022?

The theme for 2022 was 'Wetlands Action for People and Nature', which highlights the vital link between wetlands, people and nature.

3) What are Wetlands?

Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems globally, comparable to rain forests and coral reefs. They provide numerous benefits to humankind, including food production, flood control, water supply and coastal stability. Inland wetlands are areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt.