This Year’s Theme
“Wetlands Action for People and Nature” is the theme for 2022 highlighting the importance of actions to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands for human and planetary health. An urgent call to act is the focus of this year’s campaign. It is an appeal to take action and to invest financial, human
and political capital in order to save the world’s wetlands from disappearing altogether — and to restore those we have already lost.
The overriding message behind this year’s campaign is to Value, Manage, Restore, and Love Wetlands, because if we are to inspire action, we also must ignite greater empathy for these rapidly disappearing ecosystems.
This year’s campaign highlights three main messages, and we invite you to adapt and share them widely.
- Value wetlands for the multiple benefits and nature-based solutions they provide for human well-being and a healthy planet.
- Manage wetlands wisely and use them sustainably so we can conserve them and maintain the health of these critically important ecosystems.
- Restore lost and degraded wetlands to revive the rich biodiversity and life found in these life-sustaining ecosystems.
The world has lost 85% of its wetlands since the 1700s, and they are disappearing three times faster than forests. During this United Nations Decade on Restoration — and by 2030 — reverse the decline of natural wetlands.Ramsar Convention Secretariat, 2021
Wetlands and the Urgent Need for Action
- 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.
- Human activities that lead to loss of wetlands include drainage and infilling for agriculture and construction, pollution, overfishing and overexploitation of resources, invasive species and climate change.
- In the last five decades, 81% of inland wetland species and 36% of coastal and marine species have declined.
- Today, one in three freshwater species and 25% of all wetland species face extinction from wetland decline — including water birds, fresh water-dependent mammals, marine turtles and coral-reef-building species.
- Many threatened plants, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals live in wetlands. More than one-third of the threatened and endangered species in the United States live only in wetlands — and nearly half use wetlands at some point in their lives.
Wetlands and Biodiversity
- Wetlands are rich in nutrients carried by the rivers, streams and water flowing into them. This combination of nutrients, sunlight and water powers the food chain.
- Roughly, 40% of the world’s species live or breed in wetlands.
- Over 100,000 freshwater species have been identified in wetlands so far.
- Wetlands are the home to about 30% of known fish species, with 200 new freshwater species discovered each year.
Wetlands, Sustainable Development and Well-being
- Wetlands provide ecosystem services worth US$47 trillion annually.
- Wetlands provide livelihoods for one billion people — from fishing, aquaculture and tourism, to providing valuable goods to gather and process, often benefiting the poor.
- They help feed the world — giving us much of the fish we eat, rice for 3.5 billion people, water for food production, and raw materials for lifesaving medicines.
- Wetlands support human well-being by offering magnificent beauty and opportunities for recreation, cultural engagement and the mental health benefits tied to interacting with nature.
- Wetlands contribute directly or indirectly to 75 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators.
- Conserving and restoring mangroves globally could yield a return on investment of US$3.7 billion per year, based on their carbon values alone.