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Ramsar CoP14: Wetlands Action for People and Nature 

 The Ramsar Convention is one of the oldest treaties established for the conservation of natural resources. Initially developed with a focus on conserving waterfowl birds and their habitats, the Convention has over the years expanded its objectives to promote wise use of wetlands, increase Ramsar site network and enhance global partnerships. The contracting parties along with Convention’s bodies meet every three years to assess the progress of Ramsar Strategic Action Plan and to discuss opportunities and challenges related to wetland conservation and management. The 14th Conference of Parties (CoP14) was held between 5 – 13th November 2022 as a hybrid event in Geneva, Switzerland and in Wuhan, China. Theme of this year’s CoP14 “Wetlands Action for People and Nature” recognized the potential wetland ecosystems have in enhancing socio-economic wellbeing. Although wetlands cover only 6% of Earth’s surface, they provide a disproportionately high number of ecosystem services when considered against other ecosystems. 

CoP14 specifically addressed the need for enhancing synergies with other multilateral environmental agreements where the key role that wetlands play in climate change action and biodiversity conservation is adequately recognized. Other main points of deliberation at the CoP14 included the need for the protection of smaller wetlands which experience increasing anthropogenic pressures and enhancing youth engagement in Convention’s work. Many countries, including Sri Lanka, recognized and supported the resolution on engaging young people in the implementation of the Convention to build awareness, intergenerational capacity and partnerships for the conservation, restoration, and wise and sustainable use and management of all wetlands. 

Local NGOs such as the WNPS play an immense role in driving the involvement of local communities in wetland conservation activities and encouraging youth participation in sustainable natural resource governance. While the Convention has shown notable progress in certain areas such as the development of national wetland policies, implementation of World Wetland Day activities and expansion of Ramsar site network amongst others, there is a significantly low progress achieved in other areas. Lack of sufficient wetland management projects that contribute to poverty alleviation was highlighted as a major inadequacy which can often lead to ineffective wetland conservation programs. Thus, innovative business models that integrate wetland conservation benefits to support community livelihoods are vital for the long-term conservation and wise-use of wetlands. WNPS is proud of the work being done within the Anivilundawa region as we do our part to help protect these critical habitats, while we will also continue to battle to save the Vidattaltivu regions.