World Wetlands Day observed at Opuwo

OPUWO: World Wetlands Day was commemorated at Opuwo on Thursday under the theme ‘Wetlands and human wellbeing’, emphasising the critical role of wetlands in human prosperity and a healthy planet.

World Wetlands Day is an annual event held to raise awareness about the importance of wetlands and promote their conservation and sustainable use. It marks the date of the adoption of the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty aimed at conserving and sustainably managing wetlands around the world.

During the event, Minister of Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform Calle Schlettwein spoke of the significance of protecting Namibia’s wetlands, highlighting their diverse ecological functions and their significance as habitats for numerous species.

Schlettwein further emphasised the importance of wetlands in human health, food security, agriculture, and conservation efforts.

‘Maintaining healthy freshwater wetlands means securing water supply. Our rural communities depend on wetlands for food and building materials
such as reeds and timber to construct their houses,’ he added.

The minister also referenced World Water Day, which is celebrated annually to promote the value of freshwater and the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

‘Demand for water in the world and Namibia has been increasing and will continue to do so over the coming decades due to population growth, socio-economic development, and increased food production,’ he noted.

Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism Phamba Shifeta stated at the same event that the world is losing wetlands three times faster than it is losing forests, with more than 80 per cent of wetlands having disappeared since the 1700s.

‘The trend is accelerating even further since the Ramsar Convention to protected wetlands was signed, and since then at least 35 per cent of the wetlands have been lost,’ he said.

Shifeta said human activities and climate change are the primary causes of wetlands degradation and loss, which in turn have a detrimental impact on human liv
es and welfare.

He urged traditional authorities and regional and local government officials to help promote the culture of wetland conservation, stating that concerted efforts at the local level will ensure that Namibia’s wetlands are protected and continue to provide much-needed ecosystem services to both society and the environment.

Wetlands are habitats that hold water, either continuously or seasonally, and the Kunene Region has over 15 wetlands.

Source: Namibia Press Agency