On 30 August 2021, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2 February as World Wetlands Day to raise awareness of the urgency of reversing the accelerating loss of wetlands and to promote their conservation and restoration. The day marks the date of the adoption of the "Convention on Wetlands of International Importance" held in 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Wetlands are ecosystems where water is the primary factor controlling the environment and the associated plant and animal life. A broad definition of wetlands includes both freshwater and marine and coastal ecosystems such as all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fishponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and saltpans.
These lands are critical to people and nature, given the intrinsic value of these ecosystems, and their benefits and services, including their environmental, climate, ecological, social, economic, scientific, educational, cultural, recreational and aesthetic contributions to sustainable development and human wellbeing.
Though they cover only around 6 per cent of the Earth’s land surface, 40 percent of all plant and animal species live or breed in wetlands. Wetland biodiversity matters for our health, our food supply, for tourism and for jobs.
Wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests and are Earth’s most threatened ecosystem. In just 50 years — since 1970 — 35% of the world’s wetlands have been lost.