There’s water, and there’s land. Somewhere in the middle, there are wetlands. Wetlands are places rank among the richest ecosystems on Earth.
World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on February to raise global awareness about the value of wetlands for humanity and the planet. It also marks the date of adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1 971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. World Wetlands Day was celebrated for the first time in 1997.
“Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future” is the theme for World Wetlands Day 2018. Urban wetlands make cities liveable in many important ways. They reduce flooding, replenish drinking water, filter waste, provide urban green spaces, and are a source of livelihoods. These wetland benefits grow ever more crucial as the number of people living in cities has now passed the 4 billion mark and continues to rise. “By 2050, 66% of humanity will live in cities, as people move into urban areas searching for better jobs, better educations, better health services and more. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the value and importance of urban wetlands. In fast-growing cities and town areas, wetlands are often viewed as wasteland; places to dump rubbish, fill in or convert to other uses,” says Honourable Fiame Naomi Mataafa, the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment.
Scientists estimate that at least 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since 1 900, while in parallel, cities have exploded in growth. World Wetlands Day 2018 aims to raise awareness about how urban wetlands contribute to the future of sustainable cities. Urban wetlands should be integrated into a city and town area’s sustainable future planning and development; not viewed as wasteland. Cities and town areas should adopt new and review existing policies and actions which help conserve and promote urban wetlands.
The official opening ceremony was conducted at the Samoa Convention Center on Friday 9th February 201 8, 9:00am, followed by the launching of the three (3) Management Plans for the three (3) Protected Areas in Samoa and the presentation on the importance of urban wetlands in Samoa. The management plans include;
- Management Plan for Upland Areas of Lake Lanoto’o National Park
- Management Plan for Upland Areas of Mauga o Salafai National Park
- Management Plan for Upland Areas of Lauli’l to Falevao Community Conservation Area
The local community residing near Apia area were the primary target audience for this year’s event. They are the decision-makers of the future and are showing a growing interest in environmental issues and finding solutions.
This year’s event was made possible by the support and collaboration of the Government of Samoa and its partners; the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Danone Fund for Water, UN Habitat, ICLEI, WWF, WWT, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).