“Wetlands have received the attention of our government, and hosting this prestigious event confirms our commitment to conserving our natural environment and protecting our ecosystems from urbanization and human activities,” said His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi. “We cannot risk losing these valuable ecosystems, as it will have an impact on our lives, society and our future. I hope that this conference will open more doors for greater collaboration, understanding and intervention to preserve and save the world’s wetlands.”
Her Excellency Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak said: “Today marks a very momentous occasion for the UAE as it hosts its first ever COP to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, reinforcing our nation’s leading role in the protection of the environment and the conservation of our biodiversity. It gives us a great pride to hold this important meeting in the ‘Year of Zayed’ in memory of UAE’s founding father, who himself was an ardent conservationist and champion of species. The treaty, which underscores the importance of the wise use of wetlands, has never been more relevant as it is today, given the threats to these rich ecosystems from industrialization, urbanization and even climate change.”
“We are fully resolved to protecting wetlands and their biodiversity. The declaration of Al Wathba in Abu Dhabi, the only location in the Gulf to have regular breeding of flamingos, as a Ramsar site in 2016 — and subsequently a protected area in 2017 — is a true testament to that commitment. While the challenge concerning the conservation of wetlands is both real and substantial, there remain immense opportunities for meaningful collaboration and discovery of innovative solutions to protect these natural resources. Our collective efforts towards this cause will ensure that we are able to protect the wetlands not only for ourselves, but for our future generations,” Her Excellency Al Mubarak added.
About the importance of wetlands for society, His Excellency Dawood Abdul Rahman Abdullah Al Hajiri said: “It is not common knowledge that there is a beautiful bird sanctuary and designated Ramsar site just a stone’s throw away from the city of Dubai. Developing a happy and sustainable city is part of Dubai Municipality’s mandate, and that includes protecting our environment and its inhabitants. We are proud to host this meeting and delegates from around to world, and to be a part of the solution for these important ecosystems.”
For her part, Martha Rojas Urrego said: “From mangroves to rivers, the world’s wetlands are disappearing at an alarming rate, and the need for swift action is now. Wetland interventions must be scaled, and we need to raise awareness of the services they provide, and mostly important, integrate wetland conservation, wise use and restoration into policies across all societal sectors. This is the first time that a meeting is being held in an Arab country, and we are confident that Dubai will lead efforts in promoting the cause for wetlands.”
The Ramsar Convention Award for Wetland Wise Use was presented to Fundación Global Nature, Spain, in acknowledgement of the organization’s contributions to the long-term sustainable use of wetlands. The Youth Climate Action Network of Samoa won the Ramsar Convention Award for Young Wetlands Champions, and Ma Guangren, Secretary General of the China Wetland Conservation Association, who had made significant contributions to wetland conservation and wise use in China.
The Ramsar Secretariat will also introduce the Wetland City Accreditation for the first time, which pays tribute to 18 cities that have taken exceptional steps to safeguard their urban wetlands.
The recently launched Global Wetlands Outlook (GWO) by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands highlights that the world’s wetlands are declining rapidly, with 35 percent losses since 1970. Authors of the report also stressed the need for immediate action, lest there be serious repercussions for the future. Findings from the GWO will inform discussions and decisions at COP13.
Sponsors of the event include the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Dubai Tourism, Emirates Transport, Total and Engie.
The 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP13) is held in Dubai, UAE from October 21 to 29, 2018, under the theme of “Wetlands for a Sustainable Urban Future”. Hosted by the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and sponsored by Dubai Municipality, representatives from governments of Contracting Parties will convene at COP13 to agree on a work programme, budgetary arrangements for the next triennium and consider guidance on a range of ongoing and emerging environmental issues. Representatives of non-member states, intergovernmental institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also participate in these meetings as non-voting observers.
The UAE has been a party to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands since 2007, and has designated 7 wetland sites, with a surface area of 34,978 hectares, onto the List of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), considered to be of high value to the country and to the world because of the ecosystem services they provide. Although the UAE is situated in one of the most arid regions in the world, the wetland ecosystem in the country is one of the most unique and diverse in the Arabian Peninsula. It includes marshes, vast tidal flats, fresh water aquifers, mangroves and coral reefs.
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© Press Release 2018