The 2nd of February each year is World Wetlands Day, marking the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar. Each year since 1997, the Ramsar Secretariat has provided materials so that government agencies, non-governmental organizations, conservation organizations, and groups of citizens can help raise public awareness about the importance and value of wetlands.
Linking with the theme of the UN International Year of Family Farming, the Ramsar Convention secretariat chose Wetlands & Agriculture as topic of World Wetlands Day 2014. ''Wetlands and Agriculture: Partners for Growth'', places a focus on the need for the wetland and agricultural sectors (and the water sector too of course) to work together for the best shared outcomes.
Wetlands, often seen as a barrier to agriculture, continue to be drained and reclaimed for farming. While there is need for more food production from land, conversion of wetlands impact other vital ecosystem services that wetlands provide. Getting the balance for long-term sustainable, and the wise use of wetlands is an ongoing challenge requiring well informed decision making.
Wetland related Research and Education at UNESCO-IHE
Research of UNESCO-IHE continues to address key questions about sustainable wetland use. The last year saw the conclusion of the ECOLIVE project that researched the sustainable use of wetlands for livelihood support, and the start of a follow-up project investigating the integrated use of wetlands for agriculture and ecological integrity. Wetland outreach included two major regional workshops: the wetland forum in Kigali, Rwanda and the first TEEB for wetlands workshop held in Africa.
The recent part-time appointment of Professor Max Finlayson as Chair in Wise Use of Wetlands, under a cooperation agreement with Charles Sturt University Australia, and the Ramsar secretariat provides further momentum for UNESCO-IHE and her partners to play a leading role in wetland research and sustainability.
Further information on wetland research can be found here.
UNESCO-IHE's educational programmes related to wetlands are:
- MSc specialisation in Limnology and Wetland Management, a joint programme in cooperation with BOKU, Austria and Egerton University, Kenya
- Various short and online courses, including:
- o Constructed Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment
- o Wetlands for Livelihoods and Conservation
- o Online Course on Constructed Wetlands for Wastewater Treatment