World Wetlands Day Commemoration in Harare

World Wetlands Day is an environmentally related celebration which takes place on the 2nd of February each year. It dates back to the year 1971 when several environmentalists gathered to reaffirm protection and love for wetlands.

What is a Wetland?

A wetland is an ecosystem prone to flooding or saturation by water either permanently for years or decades or seasonally for shorter periods. Flooding results in oxygen-free anoxic processes in the soil. Wetlands can also be described as ecotones, providing a transition between dry land and water bodies. They exist at the interface between terrestrial and aquatic systems, making them inherently different from each other but highly dependent on both. Ecotones are diverse and biologically rich.

Fun fact! More than 19,500 animal and plant species depend ecotones for survival globally

Furthermore, Wetlands provide various ecosystem services that benefit surrounding communities. These are water purificationgroundwater replenishment, stabilization of shorelines and storm protection, water storage and flood control, carbon decomposition and sequestration, and support of plants and animals. They are reservoirs of biodiversity and provide wetland products.  

Did you know?

Healthy wetlands store up to fifty times more carbon compared to rainforests

 History of World Wetlands Day

World Wetlands Day is recognized as a United Nations International Day of Importance. It is celebrated around the world each year on 2 February marking the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) in Ramsar, Iran, on 2 February 1971.  It addresses global concerns regarding wetland loss and degradation. Since 1997, World Wetlands Day has been used to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits and promote the conservation and wise use of wetlands. The primary purpose of the treaty is to list wetlands of international importance and promote their wise use, with the ultimate goal of preserving the world’s wetlands. Methods include restricting access to some wetland areas, as well as educating the public to combat the misconception that wetlands are wastelands.

Commemoration of World Wetlands Day 2024 in Harare

This year the theme for Wetlands Day is ‘Wetlands and Human Wellbeing’ to demonstrate how aspects of human wellbeing are tied to the health of the world’s wetlands. Wetlands and human life are interconnected. People draw sustenance, inspiration, and resilience from these productive ecosystems. The 2024 theme highlights the critical need for human stewardship of the world’s wetlands for human wellbeing, a notion we support as the Black Crystal family.

Wetland awareness walk at Haka Park, Cleveland Dam Harare

Fun fact: Africa’s wetland ecosystem approximately covers 131 million hectares

Zimbabwe has 7 Ramsar sites namely:

  • Victoria Falls National Park.
  • Monavale Wetland.
  • Mana Pools National Park.
  • Lake Chivero and Manyame.
  • Driefontein Grasslands.
  • Cleveland Dam. 
  • Chinhoyi Caves Recreational Park

This year’s commemoration was held at Haka Park next to Cleveland Dam in Harare. In attendance, amongst many other valuable stakeholders was:

  •  Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Senator Charles Tavengwa
  • City of Harare Mayor represented by Councilor Cecilia Chinembiri
  • EMA Provincial Environmental Manager Mr. Leon Mutungamiri
  • City of Harare Environmental Management Unit Mr. Mabika and Mr. Muriya
  • Mr. Surtee, Haka Park
  • Mr. Chimanikire, Mukuvisi Woodlands
  • Julia Pierini, Birdlife Zimbabwe

Various key players such as World Wild Fund, Black Crystal Consulting and Community-Based Organizations and 35 schools from across the city were also in attendance. This offered a platform to raise awareness and education to the youth on the importance of wetland management. It also gave room to discuss current issues amplifying wetland encroachment and degradation. Seeing such a large turnout of people in support of the commemoration was also inspiring.

Gathering at the World Wetland Day Commemoration

Importance of World Wetlands Commemoration

Whilst wetland conservation seems like an expectation after a country has agreed to the terms of the Ramsar Convention, it is difficult to hold up their end of the deal. Commemorations such as these allow all relevant stakeholders to group and agree to what extent conservation action will take place. In addition, stakeholders agree on resources to mobilize to put all policies and strategies into action. It gives a platform to raise awareness in communities and other groups on the importance and contribution of wetlands. education and awareness are the foundation of cultivating a conservation culture.

Support those who are making a difference

Standing up for a cause is challenging and supporting those who are fighting for a cause in the face of adversity is a noble thing. It is an opportunity to be part of the change you desire. Go on and implement the change you want to see or support an existing movement. As the Black Crystal family we will always have your back.

Did you know?

There is a Wetlands Youth Photo Contest that starts on 2 February and was introduced as part of a new approach to target young people and get them involved in WWD. People between the ages of 15 through 24 can take a picture of a certain wetland and upload it to the World Wetlands Day website between February and March.