MANILA, Philippines — The country joins in the global celebration of World Wetlands Day (WWD) today in commemoration of the day in 1971 when the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands, was adopted in Ramsar City, Iran. Organized by the Secretariat of the Convention of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention), WWD 2012 carries the theme “Wetlands and Tourism,” which dovetails with the theme “Wetlands, Tourism and Recreation” of the 11th meeting of the Conference of Contracting Parties (COP 11) to the Ramsar Convention scheduled on July 6-13, 2012, in Bucharest, Romania.
Wetlands possess a natural beauty and rich biodiversity, making them a key part of the global tourism and cultural travel experience. They provide water and food, water purification, and erosion control, among others. They are capable of supporting thousands of jobs and generate a substantial amount of income to support livelihoods locally and nationally.
While tourism has benefits both locally and nationally for people and wildlife – benefits such as stronger economies, sustainable livelihoods, healthy people, and thriving ecosystems. At least 35% of Ramsar Sites around the world, which include the Philippines’ Olango Island (Lapu-Lapu, Cebu), Naujan Lake National Park (Oriental Mindoro), Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (Mindanao), and Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park (in the middle of the Central Sulu Sea), have some level of tourism activity and this percentage is consistent throughout all regions.
A resolution on sustainable tourism and wetlands is being drafted for adoption at the Ramsar Convention to assist countries in managing their tourism activities. This resolution urges the contracting parties to work closely and in cooperation with all stakeholders – local, national, and international, governmental and non-governmental – involved in tourism and wetland management to act on direct and indirect threats to wetlands from tourism and provide guidance relevant to the issue.
Pursuant to Proclamation No. 74 s. 1999, February 2 is also celebrated in the Philippines as National Wetlands Day (NWD). This year’s celebration theme is “Wetland Tourism: A Great Experience.” The Philippine government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, is conducting a number of activities to put across the message that “responsible tourism supports wetlands and people.” As we mark World Wetlands Day 2012 and National Wetlands Day 2012, we should do our part in promoting responsible tourism in our local wetlands and support practices that highlight the cultural value and experience that they offer. CONGRATULATIONS!