Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future

World Wetlands Day, February 2, 2018

The UN Environment's Regional Seas Programme for the Caribbean Sea recognizes World Wetlands Day (WWD) this year and its focus on ‘Wetlands for a sustainable urban future’ to alter the thinking thatUrban Wetlands makes cities liveable’ on our quest for sustainable development.

Wetlands are one of our most valuable ecosystems yet they continue to be lost at an alarming rate. This year’s theme is a timely reminder that while there is urban development, it is important to ensure that wetlands are taken into consideration in sustainable urban planning. The future of wetlands are key to our very own aspirations for a sustainable future.

Wetlands provide enormous benefits to society which include -  purifying and filtering waste to/from our coastal waters; providing a habitat for many marine animals (some of which are commercially important); maintaining coastal/marine food chains and by extension providing a source of livelihoods for coastal communities; buffering coastlines during extreme weather events and helping to reduce risks from flooding; and  helping to combat climate change by absorbing excess  carbon dioxide.

Currently, there are 16 countries of the Wider Caribbean Region which are signatories to the Cartagena Convention and within the scope of the biodiversity sub-programme, efforts to safeguard the region’s marine resources are guided by the Protocol Concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW Protocol). The Protocol via its mandate seeks to "take the necessary measures to protect, preserve and manage in a sustainable way - 1) areas and ecosystems that require protection in order to safeguard their special value, 2) threatened or endangered species of flora and fauna and their habitats, and 3) species, with the objective of preventing them from becoming endangered or threatened.”

The Biodiversity Programme (SPAW) works with the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) as the lead implementation partner in the region concerning actions to safeguard wetlands through the Caribbean Wetlands Regional Initiative (Cariwet). Activities are implemented by the sub-programme’s Regional Activity Centre in Guadeloupe (SPAW-RAC) and are designed to promote the conservation and sustainable use of mangroves. 

The Communications Sub-programme supports Biodiversity areas and continues to promote Wetlands with facts, ‘Did you Know Features’ and ‘Questions and Answers’ on the importance of Wetlands across its social media sites. Check us out at UN Environment-Caribbean Environment Programme on Facebook, @UNEPCEP on Twitter.

In observance of WWD 2018, UN Environment-Caribbean Environment Programme in collaboration with the National Environment Planning Agency (NEPA) and the University of the West Indies / Port Royal Marine Laboratory (UWI/PRML) will be conducting a tree planting activity and clean up of a mangrove seedling plot within the Palisadoes-Port Royal Ramsar site, which is part of the Palisadoes-Port Royal Protected Area.

Download our Wetlands factsheet here.