World Wetlands Day 2019

Event date: 
2019-02-02 (All day)

                 
Background
 
Theme
 
Related media content
 
Related links
 
 
 
 
   

Background

 

2 February each year is World Wetlands Day. 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. Each year since 1997, the Ramsar Secretariat has provided materials to help raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands.

South Africa is one of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention). South Africa signed the Ramsar Convention in 1971 at its inception and the membership was formalised in 1975 when South Africa ratified the Convention and became the fifth contracting party. One of the obligations of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention is to commemorate the World Wetlands Day (WWD).

South Africa is a water scarce country, and the water in many streams is polluted. Both droughts and floods are common. In this regards, wetlands play a vital role by removing toxic substances and sediment from water, while also improving downstream water quality and the overall health of communities.

Wetlands are able to reduce the severity of droughts and floods by regulating stream flow. They also help to purify water and provide habitat for many different plants and animals. Besides these indirect benefits to society, wetlands provide many direct benefits in the form of resources such as fibre for making crafts as well as recreational opportunities. However lack of community awareness on the value and benefits of wetlands often leads to their transformation by humans.

Theme

 

The 2019 theme for the World Wetlands Day as approved by the 54th Standing Committee of the Ramsar Convention is: “Wetlands and Climate Change”. Wetlands are important ecosystem as they provide a number of benefits, not only to the natural environment but also a human being. The aim of the theme is to demonstrate that, wetlands are the planet’s most effective carbon sinks or storage and represent an unrealised potential for climate mitigation. For example, peatlands are particularly important as they store twice as much carbon as the entire world’s forest biomass. Drained peatlands alone are responsible for 5% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.  Coastal wetlands such as mangroves, tidal flats and seagrass beds which also referred to as “blue carbon ecosystems” also play an important role in carbon sequestration.

The theme for 2019 is in line with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda's goals, especially the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13, which states that “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts” particularly its targets 13.1 which advocates for “strengthening resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries”.

The theme also responds to article 2 of the Paris Agreement which calls for increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production and livelihoods of communities.

Related media content

 

 

Deputy Minister Barbara Thomson calls on South Africans to protect and conserve our wetlands as South Africa marks World Wetlands Day

The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs Ms Barbara Thomson has urged South Africans to take a step towards protection and conservation of wetlands as South Africa joins the global community in marking World Wetlands Day on Saturday 2 February 2019. World Wetlands Day is celebrated annually on 2 February, with an aim to heighten education and raise public awareness on the value of wetlands and their vital contribution to human wellness.

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Related links

» https://www.ramsar.org/activity/world-wetlands-day

» https://www.worldwildlife.org/habitats/wetlands

» https://www.gov.za/WorldWetlandsDay2019

» https://medwet.org/2018/12/world-wetlands-day-2019/

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