Today, the Today the Convention on Wetlands’ 14th Conference of the Parties or COP14 will open with a hybrid ceremony between Wuhan, China and Geneva, Switzerland.
Officially hosted by the Government of China, the Conference is convening representatives from the Convention’s 172 Contracting Party governments, as well as civil society, business, academia and youth to agree on actions to protect the world’s most threatened ecosystems: wetlands. Running from 5 to 13 November, the COP will see Contracting Parties negotiate and pass resolutions to increase the effectiveness of its work to conserve, manage and restore wetlands.
The theme for COP14 is ‘Wetlands Action for People and Nature’ – highlighting the importance of wetland ecosystems as nature-based solutions for human and planetary health – with wetlands’ ecosystem services valued at 47 trillion USD per year.
Overlapping with the UNFCCC COP 27 in Sharm El Sheik, which begins on 6 November, COP14 will discuss resolutions to increase conservation, management and restoration of wetlands as part of countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and long-term climate plans. Among the most efficient carbon sinks on earth, wetlands such as peatlands are critical mitigation solutions for meeting the Paris Agreement 1.5°C goal. Restoring wetlands is also essential to reducing flood risk, droughts and protecting 60% of the world’s communities who live on coasts from extreme events and erosion caused by climate change.
Dr Musonda Mumba, Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands said, “The science is clear, any scenario of meeting our global climate goals means radical protection and restoration of wetlands – the fastest disappearing ecosystem on the planet. Take peatlands, our most efficient land-based carbon store, we need to restore 25 million hectares of lost peatlands before 2030 to achieve the level of mitigation action we need to keep the Paris goal in reach”.
Other resolutions under discussion include integration of wetland conservation and restoration into national sustainable development strategies. With water insecurity set to affect 52% of the global population by 2050, wetlands’ unique services for water, climate regulation and health will be central to Parties achieving sustainable development goals before 2030.
Taking place a few short weeks ahead of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th Conference of Parties or COP15, the Convention on Wetlands’ COP14 will discuss strengthening scientific priorities including conservation data for biodiversity conservation. With the largest network of protected areas in the world, and the Convention as co-custodian with UNEP on measurement of freshwater ecosystems, the COP 14 will provide critical inputs for the forthcoming COP15.
Mr. Bao Daming, Deputy Director General of Department of Wetland Management of National Forestry and Grassland Administration said, “Wetlands provide critical life services from water and food to life-saving medicines and coastal protection. With 56.53 million hectares of wetlands, 64 Wetlands of International Importance and 13 International Wetland Cities, China follows a sustainable growth model that respects the importance of wetland and other ecosystems for people and nature. With 4% of the world’s wetlands, China fulfils its international commitment and obligation to the Convention on Wetlands, making an important contribution to global wetland conservation, restoration and wise use. On the occasion of the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, China would like to share our experience and commit ourselves to collaborating with Contracting Parties and partners towards a beautiful world for people and nature.”
The opening ceremony saw opening statements made by representatives of the Government of China, UNEP, international organizations and the Convention on Wetlands. On 6 November, Parties will convene for a high-level ministerial session to hear interventions from 24 ministers and ambassadors on wetlands action for people and nature.