45th anniversary of signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands celebrated in IsfahanFeb 4, 2016
World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2nd February. This day marks the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands which took place in February of 1971 – 45 years ago – in the city of Ramsar in Iran.
Sadly – despite all the jobs and other vital benefits that wetlands provide – since 1900, more than 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared.
The newly adopted UN Sustainable Development Goals underline that reducing poverty requires us to protect and restore ecosystems such as wetlands. Wetlands are essential for human health and prosperity. They provide us with fresh water, ensure our food supply, sustain biodiversity, protect against flooding, and store carbon dioxide. As a major source of employment globally, they are also ideally placed to showcase truly sustainable livelihoods. In line with this and the vital role of wetlands, the theme for World Wetlands Day 2016 was set as: Wetlands for our future: sustainable livelihoods.
This year Iran marked the day in the city of Isfahan. Among the attendees were the Vice-President and the Head of the Department of Environment, Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar, Isfahan province Governor-General, Dr. Rasoul Zargarpour, Acting Secretary General of Ramsar Convention, Dr. Ania Grobicki and UNDP Resident Representative a.i. Mr. B. Murali.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Zargarpour said: “Due to lack of information and public awareness raising on the vital role of wetlands, people have polluted and damaged many wetlands around the world. Here in Isfahan, Gav Khouni Wetland is under pressure and the clock is ticking. We need to join forces and use the technical expertise of the Ramsar Convention and the United Nations to conserve this wetland which is the only hope of many for their livelihood and sustainability.”
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr. Murali said: “Government of Iran and UNDP joined forces to conserve Iranian wetlands. The two main UNDP projects working towards this goal are the Conservation of the Iranian Wetlands and MENARID. Along with the Department of Environment (DOE) and Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Organization (FRWO) – as our government partners – we are working to address integrated management of wetlands basins and natural resources in most of the provinces of the country including the Hamouns, Lake Urmia, Lake Parishan and Shadegan Wetlands in close cooperation with provincial and local authorities as well as local communities and committed NGOs.”
He added: "We – at UNDP – are also thankful to the Government of Japan as they have been supporting our restoration efforts in Lake Urmia through their kind contributions."
Dr. Grobicki also spoke at the event and stated: “It is estimated that more than a billion people around the world make their living directly from wetlands, including from fishing, rice farming or handicrafts. Other sectors such as travel and eco-tourism, water transport and aquaculture also depend on the health of these ecosystems. Thus, conservation of wetlands is not exclusive to one country, but rather it is an international matter.”
She added: "2016 marks the dawn of a new era. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted last September map out the route from the vicious circle of environmental degradation towards a virtuous cycle where we preserve, restore and wisely use ecosystems precisely because they are vital for our prosperity.”
Speaking at the event, Madam Ebtekar stated: “Considering the water shortage challenge of our country, as well as the negative impacts of climate change, we have no choice but to renew and modernize our agriculture methods.”
Madam Ebtekar added: “Dr. Rouhani’s government is serious about finding ways to overcome the environmental challenges of our country and we should not allow economic benefits make us greedy in such way that we forget to preserve and protect the environment – our future depends on it.”
At the event Wetland Champions Certificates were awarded.
The day concluded with a visit to Gav Khouni Wetland.