Urbanization is one of the key defining mega-trends of our time. It is transforming where and how people will live in the future. Four billion people, about half of the world’s population live in urban areas today. By 2050 that number is expected to increase as more people move into cities.
Current trends in human settlement potentially pose a major threat for wetland conservation and wise use. As cities grow and demand for land increases, the tendency is to encroach on wetlands. They are often viewed as wasteland to be converted for other purposes including being used as dumping grounds.
Yet when preserved and sustainably used, urban wetlands can provide cities with multiple economic, social and cultural benefits. During storms, urban wetlands absorb excess rainfall, which reduces flooding in cities and prevents disasters and their subsequent costs. The abundant vegetation found in urban wetlands, acts as a filter for domestic and industrial waste and contribute to improving water quality.
Urban wetlands are prize land not wasteland and therefore should be integrated into the development and management plans of cities.
Background and context
The 172 Contracting Parties to the Convention have agreed to the conservation and wise use of wetlands in their territories. Recognizing the importance of cities and urban wetlands, the Convention has introduced a Wetland City accreditation scheme (Resolutions- XII.10, XVI.10). This voluntary scheme provides an opportunity for cities that value their natural or human-made wetlands to gain international recognition and positive publicity for their efforts.
The Wetland City Accreditation scheme will encourage cities in close proximity to and dependent on wetlands, especially Wetlands of International Importance, to highlight and strengthen a positive relationship with these valuable ecosystems, for example through increased public awareness of wetlands and participation in municipal planning and decision-making. The Accreditation scheme should further promote the conservation and wise use of urban and peri-urban wetlands, as well as sustainable socio-economic benefits for local people.
During COP14 the Convention recognized 25 cities for their efforts to safeguard urban wetlands for people and nature.
China: Hefei; Jining; Liangping; Nanchang; Panjin; Wuhan; and Yangcheng
France: Belval-en-Argonne and Seltz
Indonesia: Subaraya and Tanjung Jabung Timur
Islamic Republic of Iran: Bandar Khamir and Varzaneh
Iraq: Al Chibayish
Japan: Izumi and Niigata
Republic of Korea: Gochang; Seocheon; and Seogwipo
South Africa: Cape Town
Thailand: Sri Songkhram District
During COP13 the Convention recognized 18 cities for their protection and wise use of urban wetlands. These pioneer cities serve as examples and inspire deliberate actions for other cities towards sustainable urbanization.
China: Changde, Changshu, Dongying, Haerbin, Haikou, Yinchuan
France: Amiens, Courteranges, Pont Audemer, Saint Omer
Hungary: Lakes by Tata
Republic of Korea: Changnyeong, Inje, Jeju, Suncheon
Sri Lanka: Colombo
Tunisia: Ghar el Melh