Zimbabwe today join rest of the World to commemorate World Wetlands Day under theme, “Wetlands and Human Wellbeing” and in the country, commemorations are held under the theme, ‘Wetlands for Sustainable Livelihoods’.
This year’s theme focuses on the interconnectedness between wetlands and various aspects of human wellbeing, including physical, mental and environmental health.
Wetlands offer vital freshwater, hosting over 100,000 species. They sustain humanity, exemplified by rice grown on wetland paddies, a staple for three billion people, contributing to 20% of global food.
Additionally, wetlands act as natural shock absorbers, mitigating rainfall impacts and lowering flood and storm surge risks.
World Wetlands Day is recognised as a United Nations International Day of Importance, celebrated around the world each year on 2 February.
It marks the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971.
Since 1997, World Wetlands Day has been used to, raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits and promote the conservation and wise use of wetlands.
Inger Andersen, the Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme said that, “This year, World Wetlands Day reminds us that our health is dependent on the health of wetlands, because wetlands are these great wonders of nature, perfectly balanced systems that perform absolutely vital functions for us and for nature.
They store water during times of drought, absorb water during floods, filter pollutants and they help to provide clean drinking water and water for crops.
But the truth is that we’re living in a time of water degradation and growing water stress. Hence, delivering nature-based solutions that protect and restore and sustainably manage wetlands is more important than ever.
And that, of course, includes solutions for coastal wetlands, because we have to remember that not all wetlands are freshwater, and it also includes restoring urban wetlands to help those of us who live in cities adapt to climate change and to protect us against inundations and growing wildfires even in the urban setting, water and wetland management is increasingly being recognised as key to achieving international commitments.
For example, the Freshwater Challenge that was launched at the UN 2023 Water Conference under the umbrella of the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration.
Here we saw 44 Member Stared step up and promise to protect and restore 300,000 kilometres of degraded rivers and 350 million hectares of degraded wetlands by 2030″.
A wetland is defined as an area of land that is either covered by water or saturated with water.
The water is often groundwater, seeping up from an aquifer or spring.
A wetland’s water can also come from a nearby river or lake.
Seawater can also create wetlands, especially in coastal areas that experience strong tides.
A wetland is entirely covered by water at least part of the year.
The depth and duration of this seasonal flooding varies.
Wetlands are transition zones. They are neither totally dry land nor totally underwater; they have characteristics of both.
Wetlands offer vital freshwater, hosting over 100,000 species.
Wetlands go by many names, such as swamps, peatlands, sloughs, marshes, muskegs, bogs, fens, potholes, and mires. Most scientists consider swamps, marshes, and bogs to be the three major kinds of wetlands.
Poeople’s wellbeing depends on these amazing, vital and absolutely phenomenal systems.
Resultantly, there is need to restore these wetlands and ensure that they are returned to full health.