The theme for this year is ‘Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future’, which is selected to highlight the significance of wetlands for sustainable urbanization. In order to foster restoration and conservation of urban wetlands, and to highlight the importance of individual responsibility, a clean-up drive was organized where participants voluntarily cleaned up Lake View Park by picking up litter and trash.
Representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations, academia, research and development, and youth-led organizations were present on the occasion. World Wetlands Day (WWD) marks the date when the Convention on Wetlands was adopted, in 1971, in the city of Ramsar, Iran.
The Convention provides the framework for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
Pakistan is blessed to have more than 240 major wetlands including 19 Ramsar sites, which are international significant wetlands.
These wetland sites include inland water, delta marshes, mangroves, lakes, reservoirs, fish farms and ponds and serve as a source of livelihood for millions of people. Urbanization results in enormous challenges for city planners and managers who must ensure that cities today can deliver not only basic services but that these cities are safe, resilient and ecologically sound.
Urban wetlands like Rawal Lake are also essential as they provide cities with multiple economic, social and cultural benefits. Despite the critical role of wetlands worldwide, the global extent of wetlands degradation continues.
Speaking on the occasion, Syed Mahmood Nasir, Inspector General of Forests (IGF), explained the relationship of wetland degradation and freshwater availability in the world including Pakistan.
He said that it is high time to act against the adverse impacts of climate change and promote a green living culture in the country. He also encouraged youth to come forward and take the lead in environmental preservation and conservation initiatives.
Rab Nawaz, Senior Director Programmes, WWF-Pakistan, in his message on WWD, emphasized on achieving a balance between resource availability and resource consumption. He also said that we need to work collectively to lead the way towards a prosperous and sustainable future and it is up to our young generation to maintain the momentum for environmental advocacy.
Dr. Muhammad Ibrar Shinwari, Chairperson, Department of Environmental Sciences, IIUI also shared his thoughts regarding the importance of wetlands and various plant species in Pakistan. He urged that youth must be sensitized about environmental issues and a habit of plantation and anti-littering should be inculcated in children at an early age so that they grow up to become responsible citizens.
Youth representatives from Friends of Environment and Fatima Jinnah Women University also spoke on the occasion to encourage participants to work for environmental sustainability and conservation by bringing about a behavioural change and promoting local actions. They also urged governmental officials to show stronger commitment towards policy implementation.