Message from Secretary General of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

More than 1,000 champions of wetlands are expected to participate in the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP13) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Contracting Party Delegations, Government Agency Observers, Observer Sates, Intergovernmental and International Organizations, International NGOs, Academia, Business representatives and media will assemble to debate and take decisions about one vital ecosystem – wetlands – their conservation and wise use. Stakes could not be higher for this meeting – the loss of wetlands, increasing threats resulting from climate change and the ambitions of the 2030 Sustainable Development agenda create a tremendous sense of urgency.


COP13 is to adopt decisions to administer the Convention and guide its implementation, but it is also to address conservation challenges and determine what must be done to reverse the loss of wetlands. The decisions taken in Dubai are critical and will have real on-the-ground impact.  They will find their way into legislation, regulation, and operating practices across the globe.


The role of wetlands is critical in meeting the SDGs. Their conservation, management and restoration are essential components to achieve 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda; specifically, SDG1 on poverty eradication, SDG2 on food security, SDG6 on water, SDG11 on sustainable cities, SDG13 on climate change, SDG14 on oceans and SDG15 on land degradation. The wise and sustainable use of wetlands as guided by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands will be imperative in helping countries achieve their SDG targets.


In the weeks leading to COP13, the Convention will release the Global Wetlands Outlook: State of the World's Wetlands and their Services to People.  The Global Wetland Outlook will provide status and trends, drivers of loss, and actions that must be taken for the conservation and wise use of wetlands. This strategic assessment will provide a transformative vision for wetland management practice, policy and planning at global and national scales. The Outlook will inform and guide Contracting Parties and partners in moving the wetlands’ agenda forward.


I believe that through collective effort, determination and the shared ambition of Contracting Parties and our partners, wetlands can gain political awareness, global recognition and their protection and sustainable use will attract unprecedented political, financial and technical support in coming years to reverse the trend of wetlands’ loss.


Let us use the occasion of COP13 to lead this change because our future and the future of our planet depend on it.

Martha Rojas Urrego