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World Wetlands Day: Conservation, Human Wellbeing, and Sustainable Prosperity (2 February 2024)

Key Messages in 2024 World Wetlands Day -
Key Messages in 2024 World Wetlands Day -

2 February: World Wetlands Day!

Every 2nd February, the global community unites to commemorate World Wetlands Day, recognising wetlands' pivotal role in sustaining our planet's biodiversity and human wellbeing. This annual event traces back to the historic Convention on Wetlands, signed on 2nd February 1971, marking the world's first modern global multilateral environmental agreement. Today, with 172 countries as members, the Convention continues to champion the cause of wetland conservation, leading to the establishment of World Wetlands Day in 1997.


The Significance of Wetlands:

The theme for World Wetlands Day 2024, "Wetlands and Human Wellbeing," underscores the profound connection between wetlands and our daily lives. Wetlands, ranging from lakes and rivers to mangrove forests and coral reefs, are vital in sustaining diverse plant and animal species, acting as water sources, purifiers, coastal protectors, and significant carbon absorbers.


The Fragile State of Wetlands:

Despite their critical functions, wetlands face unprecedented threats, with 35% disappearing since the 1970s—three times faster than forests. Recognising this urgent issue, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, from 2021 to 2030, calls for a collective effort to reverse the decline and protect these invaluable ecosystems.


Key Campaign Messages for 2024:

World Wetlands Day 2024 focuses on the inseparable link between human well-being and the state of the world's wetlands. Investing in sustainable wetland use is an investment in the future, providing economic, social, and cultural benefits to cities and their residents. Wetland restoration is pivotal for addressing the climate-biodiversity crisis and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Vital Functions of Wetlands:

Wetlands serve as sources of water, coastal protectors, and essential carbon absorbers, supporting agricultural and fisheries activities. Their role as natural purifiers is crucial for human survival, supplying clean water for consumption and contributing to food security and public health.


Wetlands as a Source of Prosperity:

These ecosystems often drive local economies, and wise utilisation can simultaneously reduce the declining trend of wetlands, alleviate poverty, and address social inequality. Sufficient clean water and plentiful food resources are vital to effective wetland management.


Reducing Disaster Vulnerability:

Wetlands are crucial in mitigating the impact of natural and human-made disasters. With about 90% of disasters being water-related, restoring and rehabilitating wetlands becomes fundamental in reducing vulnerability to disasters.


Carbon Storage and Biodiversity:

Preserving and restoring wetlands contribute to vital carbon storage, reducing emissions and enhancing our ability to adapt to climate change. Wetlands also support rich biodiversity, making collective action essential to reverse the decline observed since the 1970s.

Indonesia's boat on wetland
CIFOR/RIFKI. In Indonesia, travel across wetlands involves the use of boats to transport people from one place to another.

Indonesian Peatlands

Peatland is a type of wetland. Indonesia is ranked second with the largest peatland area, reaching 22.5 million hectares, and only behind Brazil with 31.1 million hectares. In Indonesia, especially peatlands in Sumatra, billions of tonnes of carbon (underground carbon) have been lost. BRGM 2022 data shows that 83.4 per cent of peatlands in Indonesia have been damaged. As many as 5.2 per cent (or 1.26 million hectares) are in severe and hefty damage. This loss is caused by the conversion of peatland into agricultural and plantation land and peatland and forest fire disasters that will occur repeatedly in 2023. In Sumatra and Kalimantan, only 7 per cent of pristine peatland remains. The rest of the land has been polluted by extractive industries, mainly oil palm plantations. The reduction in peatlands and carbon reserves on the island of Sumatra not only causes significant physical losses but also results in the loss of other benefits such as flood control, clean water reserves, prevention of saltwater intrusion, provision of natural resources and support for biodiversity.


Taking Action on World Wetlands Day:

Active participation is encouraged through social media campaigns, community events, and educational initiatives. Individuals can amplify their message globally by using hashtags like #WWD2024, #WetlandsandHumanWellbeing, and #WetlandsandPeople. Education, especially in local schools, is crucial for wetland conservation, with field trips and creative competitions engaging students in appreciating the beauty and importance of wetlands.


Supporting Wetlands Every Day:

Beyond World Wetlands Day, ongoing support is vital. Individuals are urged to educate themselves and others, make environmentally conscious choices and actively participate in wetland restoration projects. Advocacy at local, state, and national levels is essential for contributing to sustainable development and climate action efforts.



World Wetlands Day 2024 serves as a potent reminder that the preservation of wetlands is intricately tied to the well-being of humanity. Through collective action and a shared commitment, we can ensure the conservation of these invaluable ecosystems, safeguarding a sustainable natural legacy for future generations. Wetlands are not just a part of our planet; they are a lifeline for us all, and by celebrating their diversity, we celebrate life, natural resources, and human well-being.



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