2015 Ramsar Convention: Sustainable development requires the protection of wetlands  

Summary

From June 1 to 9, the city of Punta del Este, in Uruguay, hosted the 12th Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention (COP12). A few months before the Paris Climate Conference, the 168 member states came together alongside partner companies and NGOs to assess the impacts of local, regional and national actions around the world in terms of the preservation and use of wetlands. The event also provided an opportunity for the participants to discover various international cooperation projects, which received awards during an official ceremony. We look back at a crucial meeting for fostering sustainable development.

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The future of wetlands: the Convention’s focal theme

This year, the theme of the COP12 was “Wetlands for our Future”: an approach directly linked to the Ramsar Convention’s ambitious original mission – the protection and rational use of wetlands, meaning lakes, rivers, subsoil aquifers, marshlands, mangrove and other swamps, and so on.

[These wetlands] as well as providing indispensable fresh water, also play a crucial role in controlling floods, replenishing groundwater and mitigating climate change.

For 44 years, the Ramsar Convention, the oldest of the modern global intergovernmental environmental agreements, has been involved in the fight against the increasing degradation of these zones, which, as well as providing indispensable fresh water, also play a crucial role in controlling floods, replenishing groundwater and mitigating climate change.

As a partner to the Convention for over 15 years, the Danone Group was present at this 12th Meeting of the Contracting Parties to reassert its commitment to preserving these zones in the long term.

Also present were representatives of the Livelihoods Fund (the former Danone Fund for Nature), one of whose missions has, since its creation in 2008, been to restore degraded ecosystems and fight climate change.

On June 3, during a thematic round table, Danone Vice President Laurent Sacchi and Livelihoods President Bernard Giraud took part in a debate on the importance of public/private partnerships as regards local communities’ involvement in improving wetlands.

Innovation acclaimed by Ramsar Awards

Another highlight of the Convention was the Ramsar Awards ceremony on the evening of June 3, which celebrated the best initiatives for preserving wetlands. One of the prizewinners was Israel, acclaimed for its work on preserving and managing wetlands in arid areas. Meanwhile, as a reward for his work on raising awareness to the dangers of industrialization and urban development for aquatic ecosystems, the Colombian-born Jorge Emmanuel Escobar Moreno earned the title of “Young Wetland Champion,” as director of the Humedales Bogotá Foundation.

Last but not least, the Frenchman Jean-Christophe Henry received the 2015 innovation prize for a project carried out in collaboration with the Danone Livelihoods Fund and the Dakar-based NGO Oceanium.

The aim there was to restore the mangrove forests, whose disappearance is increasing salt content in the water, making the surrounding land sterile. In its self-imposed task of protecting vital arable land throughout Senegal, Oceanium’s targeted action has notably succeeded in improving conditions in the rice paddies of Casamance and Siné Saloum, as well as bringing the region’s fish and seafood populations up to their previous levels.

These were the economic, social and environmental impacts recognized by the Ramsar Awards in Punta del Este. They have also serves as confirmation of the Livelihoods mission of assisting local NGOs, which also hold the key to more sustainable development.

More info

 Discover the NGO Oceanium

Find other Livelihoods projects

Photo © : Thongseedary / Shuuterstock