As we near the end of an extremely challenging year, I hope that you and your loved ones are well.
I am pleased to share that despite the difficult situation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the work of the Convention continues through active engagement of Contracting Parties and support provided by the Secretariat. I would like to thank the commitment of Contracting Parties to continue vital actions for wetlands as shown by this year’s 16 designations of Wetlands of International Importance, with significant impact for wetlands and the lives that depend on them.
Considerable work has been carried out in the governance and decision-making processes of the Convention despite not being able to meet in person. The 59th session of the Standing Committee was held in June with preparatory work from its Working Groups advancing critical areas for the Convention. Importantly, the third Extraordinary meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) was held in October. This was the first time the COP met virtually, with Contracting Parties adopting two important resolutions: postponing COP 14, which will take place on 21-29 November 2022 in Wuhan, China, and approving a budget for 2022. I would like to thank our COP14 host, the government of the People’s Republic of China for their commitment and ongoing hard work to prepare a successful COP14 and to all Parties for their engagement and contributions to these important meetings. The Extraordinary COP has set in motion the process towards the resumed session of the SC59 which will take place on 23-27 May in Gland, Switzerland.
Similarly, efforts continue to raise awareness about the importance of wetlands in our 50th year, when wetlands action is more urgent than ever. In September we saw this urgency recognized at the highest level, when the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution proclaiming 2 February: World Wetlands Day. Led by a core group of our Contracting Parties and with 75 co-sponsors, the adoption emphasized the importance of wetlands for people and nature. With just two months until World Wetlands Day 2022, this UN observance brings unprecedented opportunity to raise awareness of wetlands’ value and mobilize actions for their conservation.
Championing the theme Wetlands Action for People and Nature, next year’s World Wetlands Day Campaign will stress the urgency for all of society to act for wetlands – and demonstrate the importance of wetlands for achieving climate, biodiversity and Sustainable Development Goals. I look forward to working with you all to implement this important campaign in what will be a bumper year for nature and climate.
Another critical component of our mandate, 2021 has seen the Convention continue to strengthen its engagement across the global biodiversity, sustainable development and climate processes – most recently through our participation at COP26. We will continue to strengthen our participation across these agendas next year, including with the expected meetings on the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
The Secretariat also continued to support implementation by Contracting Parties in Ramsar Site designations, inventories and other commitments under the Convention. This included five regional preparatory meetings organized for the Extraordinary COP and 11 webinars to strengthen capacities for implementation and engagement in the Convention processes. Most recently, the webinar on 3 December presented our new e-learning courses: Financing Mechanisms for Freshwater Ecosystems Confirmation, developed with WWF and Danone. I take the opportunity to remind you that you can find all notifications to Parties on our website here.
As we approach a new year with a very intense agenda, both for our Convention and the relevant international processes, the urgency for conserving and wisely using wetlands could not be clearer. Please count on the Secretariat to support you and continue working with you to strive for the achievement of our critical mission.
Martha Rojas Urrego