The Wonder of Wetlands | WWF
© Mazidi Abd Ghani/ WWF-Malaysia

Valuing Wetlands

From freshwater and food security to sustainable cities and poverty eradication, healthy wetlands are essential for our daily survival - and for solving humanity’s most pressing challenges.

But the world’s wetlands are in crisis. They are continued to be degraded and destroyed – rivers and reefs, marshes and mangroves, swamps and seagrass beds.
© Pheakdey Sorn/IUCN

35 % of wetlands have been lost in the past four decades

Saving the World's Life Support Systems

The Opportunity

As the international community galvanizes its efforts to meet 2030’s Sustainable Development Goals, the central importance of wetlands to many of the key targets has been thrown into sharp focus. We cannot survive without swamps, bogs, marshes and mangroves and as climate change becomes an inescapable reality, wetlands offer us opportunities to build resilience, mitigate some of its effects and adapt to others. In particular, the Wetland City Accreditation provides us with an opportunity through our initiatives to connect cities and its inhabitants to wetlands and nature.
For the last 20 years, WWF has been one of the Ramsar Convention’s most committed partners, supporting the designation of 110 million hectares of Ramsar sites across the world.
© Jorge Sierra/WWF-Spain

Key Actions

There are a wide array of actions that WWF is working alongside countries to improve efforts to value wetlands. The following three elements are key to delivering significant impacts:

© Santiago Gibert/WWF-México

Prioritise

However much we would like to, there is no way to protect all the world’s wetlands: there will need to be tradeoffs. This will involve hard decisions. Countries will need to prioritize – basing their decisions on the values of their most important wetlands and their potential contribution to commitments under the SDGs, Convention on Biological Diversity and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

© naturepl.com/Jose B Ruiz/WWF

Commit

Countries need to commit fully to their Ramsar sites – both new and old. Designating a site means more than drawing some lines on a map and giving them a Ramsar number: it’s essential that new and existing sites are protected in practice as well as on paper. WWF believes it is critical to bolster the Ramsar Advisory Missions (RAMs), which help countries identify and address the wetland challenges they face.  RAMs need to be strengthened, supported, given adequate resources, and utilized by countries – as well as recommended by NGOs – to help ensure the ecological character of the world’s most important wetlands are maintained so that they continue to deliver benefits to both people and nature.

© Camila Diaz/WWF

Innovate and Partner

Along with traditional on-the-ground protection, countries need to adopt and implement innovative approaches to securing wetlands These could include rethinking investments that negatively impact Ramsar sites and seizing the opportunities offered by bankable water solutions to protect our wetlands. Corporate water stewardship also provides an opportunity to explore partnerships and creates a space for the private sector to come on board as a key partner for wetland protection.