02 Feb 2021

"Wetlands and Water" is the 2021 theme for World Wetlands Day, celebrated each year on 2 February. #RestoreWetlands #zoneshumides2021GE


World Wetlands Day, celebrated each year on 2 February, marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) on 2 February 1971 in Ramsar, Iran. This year’s celebration of World Wetlands Day is especially significant — as on 30 August 2021, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that established 2 February as a United Nations international day, — inviting all 193 UN member states to observe the day, opening the door for greater global visibility for wetlands.

Wetlands are among the world’s most diverse productive environments; cradles of biological diversity that provide the water and productivity upon which countless species of plants and animals depend for survival. Wetlands are indispensable for the countless benefits or “ecosystem services” that they provide humanity, ranging from freshwater supply, food and building materials, and biodiversity, to flood control, groundwater recharge, and climate change mitigation. Wetlands are also essential for biodiversity: though wetlands cover only around 6% of the Earth’s land surface, 40% of all plant and animal species live or breed in wetlands.

However, wetlands as the most threatened ecosystem. According to the World Heritage and Ramsar Conventions, 64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared since the beginning of the last century. In most regions across the world, wetlands continue to decline compromising the benefits that wetlands provide to people. According to the Global Wetland Outlook, we lose wetlands three times faster than natural forests. Therefore, the conservation of wetlands is a vital task of humanity, which can help achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

2021 Theme: Wetlands and Water

“Wetlands and Water” was the theme for 2021, highlighting the contribution of wetlands to the quantity and quality of freshwater on our planet. Water and wetlands are connected in an inseparable co-existence that is vital to life, our wellbeing and the health of our planet.

We are facing a growing freshwater crisis that threatens people and our planet. We use more freshwater than nature can replenish and we are destroying the ecosystem that water and all life depend on most – wetlands.

UN Decade on Restoration (2021-2030)

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration calls for the protection and revival of ecosystems around the world for the benefit of people and nature. It aims to halt the degradation of ecosystems, and restore them to achieve global goals. Only with healthy ecosystems, such as wetlands, can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop the collapse of biodiversity. The UN Decade runs from 2021 through 2030, which is also the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals and the timeline scientists have identified as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the UN Decade is building a strong, broad-based global movement to ramp up restoration and put the world on track for a sustainable future. That will include building political momentum for restoration as well as thousands of initiatives on the ground.

Framework for Freshwater Ecosystem Management

The Third United Nations Environment Assembly passed a groundbreaking and comprehensive Resolution on protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems. In it, member states welcomed UNEP’s Framework for Freshwater Ecosystem Management, which supports countries to sustainably manage freshwater ecosystems. In doing so, it supports national and international goals related to freshwater ecosystems, such as certain Aichi Biodiversity Targets and Sustainable Development Goal 6, Target 6.6, which covers wetlands.


Panel Discussion | Wetlands: Securing Freshwater for All

1 February 2021 | 15:00 – 16:30 | Online | Ramsar Convention

Photography contest "Genève célèbre les zones humides!"

Until 10 February 2021 | Facebook | Department of Territory, Canton of Geneva

The Role of Geneva

As a global hub for environment governance and the host region of the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands, Geneva is key place to protect wetlands and reverse the trend of global loss of wetlands. Many organizations are active in the region to conserve wetland areas locally and globally. Learn more about the importance of wetlands and the role of Geneva in our update below.