February 2- World Wetlands Day

Just as forests are called the “lungs of the earth,” wetlands are the “kidneys” that regulate water and filter waste from the landscape. Besides this comparison, wetlands are the primary sources of freshwater, buffers of floods and droughts, recycler of nutrients and chemicals, and inextricably intertwined with our culture and identity. The Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation of wetlands, defines wetlands as: “areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which, at low tides, does not exceed six meters.”

The Convention also provides that “wetlands may include riparian and coastal zones adjacent to the wetlands, and islands or bodies of marine water deeper than six meters at low tide lying within the wetlands.” The biological composition of wetlands, from the fish that live there to the migrating water birds that visit, depends on the ways water moves within a wetland.

Threat to wetlands:

The world has lost around 87% of natural wetlands since the 1700s, and 35% have disappeared since the 1970s. Developing countries like India have lost nearly one-third of their natural wetlands to urbanization, agricultural expansion, and pollution over the last four decades. It is estimated that wetlands are vanishing three times faster than forests, and their rate of disappearance is increasing.

Wetlands are threatened by reclamation and degradation through drainage and landfill, pollution (discharge of domestic and industrial effluents, disposal of solid wastes), hydrological alteration (water withdrawal and changes in inflow and outflow), over-exploitation of natural resources resulting in loss of biodiversity, and disruption in ecosystem services provided by wetlands.

Preserving wetlands: Recognition of the threats through an international day 

February 2, 2022, is the first year that World Wetlands Day will be observed as a United Nations international day, following its adoption by the General Assembly on August 30, 2021.

The theme for the 2022 edition is Wetlands Action for People and Nature, and it highlights the importance of actions that ensure that wetlands are conserved and sustainably used. It’s an appeal to invest financial, human, and political capital to save the world’s wetlands from disappearing and to restore those we have degraded. This day also marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February, 1971, in Ramsar-  Iranian city On the Caspian Sea coast.

Three Informative Messages

January 28, 2022 message from Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological:

“We will not achieve biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, and adaptation or the Sustainable Development Goals unless we restore wetlands.”

Her full message is available at


January 28, 2022 message from Martha Rojas Urrego, Secretary-General, Convention on Wetlands:

“World Wetlands Day is an opportunity to engage all stakeholders at all levels – to strengthen and multiply action for wetlands.”

Her full message is available at


January 28, 2022 message from Jane Madgwick, Chief Executive Officer, Wetlands International:

“As we need wetlands to protect nature and humanity from the most devastating impacts of climate change, we should make every day World Wetlands Day! Join us in securing the future of wetlands.”

Her full message is available at


More on this can be read at https://www.unep.org/events/un-day/world-wetlands-day-2022

Shristi Banerjee

Lawyer, Jharkhand High Court (India)

Global Representative (India), Roya Institute of Global Justice