World Wetlands Day 2018: Wetlands and cities

Friday February 2 at 12:01

“Wetlands for a sustainable urban future”
Message from Mechtild Rössler, Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, for World Wetlands Day 2018

In focusing on the theme “wetlands for a sustainable urban future”, this year’s World Wetlands Day sheds light on the importance of wetlands for cities. Today, 50% of the world’s population live in urban areas. Forecasts expect the urban population to rise to 6.3 billion by 2050 – a more than eightfold increase since 1950. While the urban proportion of the world’s population will more than double from 1950 to 2050, the number of the world’s wetlands has already more than halved over the past 100 years. However, wetlands play a vital role for cities and for the whole of humanity. For instance, they serve as a source of drinking water; they reduce flooding and the vegetation of wetlands filters domestic and industrial waste and improves water quality.

On the occasion of the World Wetlands Day 2018, the World Heritage Centre welcomes the close collaboration between the Ramsar Convention and the World Heritage Convention. As of today, more than 95 Ramsar Sites of International Importance overlap with more than 69 World Heritage properties. These also include cities such as the World Heritage site of Venice and its Lagoon.

World Wetlands Day 2018 highlights the need for effective conservation of urban wetlands to facilitate an urbanization that is sustainable and that makes cities liveable. The importance of urban green spaces, including wetlands and peatlands, and how they can help cities in mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change is also noted in the Global Report on Culture for Sustainable Urban Development, which was launched by UNESCO in 2016. The report calls for the implementation of actions harnessing the role of culture in sustainable, resilient and green cities and recommended the promotion of a liveable built and natural environment through the safeguarding of urban cultural and natural heritage. In the conservation of both natural and cultural heritage, the Ramsar and World Heritage Conventions can mutually support each other, as the report “Ramsar and World Heritage Conventions converging towards success” shows. Building on the IUCN study “Managing MIDAs”, the report illustrates how dual Ramsar and World Heritage designations can be complementary and how they can offer widened conservation management objectives.

For more information, see: http://www.worldwetlandsday.org/