World Wetlands Day Promotes Sustainable Tourism
2 February 2012: The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) and the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) jointly celebrated World Wetlands Day (WWD) 2012 around the theme of wetlands and tourism, with the goal of advancing sustainable tourism development in wetlands. Other organizations also marked the Day, which is celebrated on 2 February each year, the anniversary of the 1971 adoption of the Ramsar Convention.
In his statement for the Day, Anada Tiéga, Ramsar Secretary General, noted that, with half of all international tourists visiting wetlands, "the reality is that tourism in wetlands is here to stay and will continue to grow." Further, while uncontrolled, unsustainable tourism can have negative impacts on wetlands, their wildlife and their ecosystem services, there are also examples of sustainable tourism showing its potential benefits for wetlands, local communities, and local and national governments.
David Sheppard, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), said the increasing trend in droughts and water shortages in the Pacific region is likely to increase with the effects of climate change. He encouraged regional-level dialogue, cooperation and experience sharing on wetland conservation and Ramsar sites.
Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), underscored that "sustainable tourism means putting the principles of sustainable development into practice," calling for it to protect the environment, conserve biodiversity, ensure the rights of local communities and provide equitable socioeconomic benefits.
The Ramsar Secretariat prepared several materials to support celebrations of the Day, including: a poster, a children's activity flipbook, a comic, a sticker and brochure, which are customizable. The materials aimed to inspire countries to organize tourism-focused events for the Day.
The theme of WWD 2012 is linked to Ramsar's 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP 11), scheduled for July 2012, in Romania, which will take place under the theme "Wetlands, Tourism and Recreation." [World Wetlands Day 2012 Website] [Joint UNWTO and Ramsar Press Release] [Statement of Ramsar Secretary General] [UN Press Release] [Statement of SPREP Director-General] [SPREP Press Release] [Statement of CBD Executive Secretary]