Ibrahim Thiaw, Under-Secretary General of The United Nations and The Executive Secretary of The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

27 Jan 2023

I grew up thinking that Wetlands can only be used for livelihoods. I caught fish, practiced recession agriculture, and collected firewood and herbs from floodplains. Wetlands were also part of my playground.

As a professional, I took part to a Ramsar COP in Canada, which exposed me to the idea of wetlands being drained and mis-used for human activities. The concept of wise use of wetlands was born as a compromise and a bridge between the need to make use of this essential resource for millions and the absolute necessity of protecting these vital ecosystems.

Wetlands are sometimes called “nature's kidneys” because of how critical they are for the overall health of our planet.

Wetlands in drylands have the double characteristic of being critically important for life and being extremely vulnerable.

Indeed, drylands, experience prolonged periods of drought and water scarcity.  As such, they are being critically threatened by human activities and environmental change.

Celebrated this year under the theme “it’s time for Wetlands Restoration” World Wetlands Day is particularly appealing to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

We must invest in wetland restoration and regeneration. This requires a concerted effort from governments, civil society, and the private sector. Invest in science and technology for innovation, infrastructure for effective management, and financial mechanisms to support wetland restoration.

We must protect and manage wetlands in a way that considers the needs of local communities and the rights of Indigenous peoples.

We must remember that wetlands are not just important for us, but they are part of our shared heritage. They are a source of beauty and wonder and they are a reminder of our interconnectedness with nature. They are the main source of livelihoods for millions around the world.

We at UNCCD are proud to join in this celebration and recognize the unique and valuable ecosystem services provided by wetlands. We are committed to doing our part to conserve and protect wetlands, and we are calling on all of you to join us in this vital cause.

On this World Wetlands Day, let us come together in a unified voice to revive and restore these essential habitats. Together, we can make a difference.