On February 2, 1997, World Wetlands Day was first celebrated. Grown from an international convention held in Ramsar, Iran, on the present and future of the world’s wetlands, the organization is headquartered in Switzerland.
Each year on this date, government agencies, citizen groups, and independent organizations use this opportunity to raise public awareness of the values and benefits of wetlands and to promote their wise use.
The Ramsar Convention of wetlands includes both natural and artificial habitats that may be fresh, brackish, saline, still, or flowing. These biologically complex ecosystems include bogs, coral reefs, fens, lakes, mangroves, marshes, mudflats, swamps, inland rivers, and coastal or marine biomes, even underground, to a depth of 6 m (20 ft) at low tide. Over 2,300 sites are designated in over 160 countries.
In addition to promoting World Wetlands Day, Ramsar Advisory Missions give assistance to member States in management and conservation of listed sites whose ecological character is in danger or under threat. The Ramsar Wetland Conservation Awards are presented every three years to organizations and individuals for making active, significant contributions to conservation and sustainable use of wetlands in categories from wetlands education and management to wetland science and conservation.
Ramsar Convention members often partner with UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme. One of Ramsar’s aims in this year’s theme of “Wetlands and Climate Change” is to raise awareness of the vital role of wetlands — from mangroves to coral reefs to peatlands — to sustain lives and safeguard naturally against weather events to save lives.
B Bondar / Real World Content Advantage