“64% of the world’s wetlands have disappeared in the last century. Every year we lose 1% of those left. Wetlands are being destroyed or degraded faster than any other ecosystems” according to the Ramsar Convention.
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 in the city of Ramsar in Iran. 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.
This year, in Iran, the day was celebrated in Ahvaz – located in southwest of Iran in the presence of the Vice-President and Head of Iran’s Department of Environment, Dr. Masoumeh Ebtekar, local authorities, members of the diplomatic corps, the media and the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Gary Lewis.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Lewis said: “Every year we are losing 1% of the world wetlands due to various reasons. One of the problems which arises as a result of the drying of the wetlands is a phenomena referred to as sand and dust storms.”
Mr. Lewis added: “In the past 18 months, the Government of Iran has taken steps to raise global awareness on Iran’s sand and dust storms problem and we hope that the neighboring countries take this issue seriously and come up with solutions to overcome this challenge.”
Ms. Lewis made reference to the agricultural sector and said with new water techniques and involvement of the local communities in water management decisions we can overcome some of Iran’s environmental challenges.
He concluded by saying: “We should raise awareness in our society and start the environmental educations from early ages.”
Dr. Ebtekar also spoke at the ceremony and said: “People depend on wetlands for their livelihoods. Wetlands play an important role in economy and sustainable development. That is why we should conserve them.”
“According to global statistics, wetlands are worth 200 times more than agricultural lands. And they can provide a lot of services for the region in which they are situated” said Dr. Ebtekar.
She concluded her remarks by saying that overcoming and preserving the environment is a top priority of President Rouhani’s administration and that different entities are working together to address the environmental challenges of Iran.
The attendees then visited Shadegan Wetlands inaugurated the “Shadegan Wetlands Touristic Centre” in which the locally produced goods are available for sale.