The ‘World Wetlands Day 2021’ and the ‘50th Anniversary of the Ramsar Convention’, is celebrated at Pondicherry University, in partnership with the Department of Forests and Wildlife, Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Department of School Education, and the Association for Promoting Sustainability in Campuses and Communities. The event helped reinforce the importance of wetlands in conjunction with the theme “Water, Wetlands, and Life: Inseparable.”
Wetlands consist of a high level of diversity in plants and animals thereby providing a wide range of ecosystem services and in fact, are a major source of water and the principal place from which major Indian cities receive their freshwater. To conserve this vital component of the ecosystem, an international agreement Ramsar Convention was commissioned in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975. Since then, nearly 90% of UN member states, from all the world’s geographic regions, have acceded to become “Contracting Parties”, and the convention entered into force in India on 1st February 1982.
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands provides the framework for the ‘conservation and wise use of wetlands’. To date, the Convention has 171 Contracting Parties and 2,414 Wetlands of International Importance. The good news is that 10 more wetland sites of ‘international importance’ from India have been added to the Ramsar Convention by 2020 and 5 more since 2020, reaching a total of 42 sites designated as ‘Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 1,081,438 hectares.
Globally, at a time when the ecological importance had triggered the conservation of wetlands as a priority issue, India’s Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has notified Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2017 under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. More recently, the MoEF&CC promoted the enlistment of ‘Wetland Mitras’ i.e. ‘Wetlands Friends’ necessitating public participation which is one of the focus of this event.