The Global Initiative to Stop the Export of Hazardous Pesticides

Via Pontica Foundation has joined an open letter addressed to the European Council, calling for the immediate cessation of the production and export of banned and hazardous pesticides from the European Union. The letter, signed by dozens of organizations from around the world, emphasizes the right of all people to live in a healthy environment and to have a healthy future.

The text of the letter highlights that despite the EU’s regulatory framework, which provides some level of protection for citizens’ health and the environment, these protections are often lacking in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). Farmers and workers in these countries cannot afford necessary protective equipment, leading to dramatic cases of poisoning and even suicides.

It is particularly concerning that despite the ban on Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) in the EU, they continue to be produced and exported to third countries. This double-standard behavior creates unfair competition for European farmers and causes significant harm to health and the environment in importing countries.

Via Pontica Foundation and the other signatory organizations are calling on the EU to fulfill its promises made in the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS) and the European Green Deal by implementing a ban on the export of banned pesticides. The letter urges the inclusion of this topic in the EU’s strategic program for the next legislative cycle, which will be discussed at the informal meeting of EU leaders on June 17, 2024.

The support of the letter by Via Pontica Foundation and numerous international organizations underscores the global commitment to protecting human health and the environment. The Foundation is committed to continuing its mission to restore resilient ecosystems and improve the relationship between people and nature by supporting initiatives aimed at reducing the use of hazardous chemicals and promoting safe alternatives.

Signing this letter is another step towards global change and sends a strong message to governments and companies worldwide that the use of hazardous pesticides and chemicals must be stopped everywhere. Via Pontica Foundation will continue to work actively to achieve this goal and to protect future generations.

You can read the letter here.

Inclusion of Trifluoroacetic Acid (TFA) as a Priority Substance under the Water Framework Directive (WFD)

Urgent Request to Include Trifluoroacetic Acid (TFA) as a Priority Substance under the Water Framework Directive

On May 30, 2024, the Via Pontica Foundation, in collaboration with a coalition of non-governmental organizations from the Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe), sent a letter to the Deputy Permanent Representatives of the governments of the Member States to the European Union. In this letter, we call for urgent action regarding the contamination of European waters with trifluoroacetic acid (TFA).

The letter outlines alarming findings from our study conducted in ten EU countries, revealing significant TFA contamination in both surface and groundwater. TFA is a persistent and unregulated substance known as a “forever chemical,” posing a long-term risk to the environment and human health. European waters are exposed to considerable TFA levels, with 79% of the analyzed samples exceeding the EU Drinking Water Directive limit of 500 ng/l for total PFAS.

Particularly concerning is the fact that contamination extends beyond industrial hotspots to agricultural areas, indicating that PFAS pesticides are the primary source of this pollution. TFA contamination affects both surface and groundwater, raising serious questions about the future protection of water resources in Europe.

The letter also notes that German authorities have recently announced their intention to classify TFA as “toxic for reproduction” category 1B, based on studies reporting malformations in offspring. Additionally, TFA is classified as harmful to aquatic life with long-lasting effects.

Given these alarming data, we urge the inclusion of TFA as a priority substance for surface waters under the Water Framework Directive, with defined limit values and monitoring obligations. We also call for support of the European Parliament’s proposal to develop an Environmental Quality Standard for “PFAS total.”

Our letter is supported by several organizations, including Ecologistas en Acción (Spain), Earth Trek (Croatia), Générations Futures (France), Global 2000 – Friends of the Earth Austria (Austria), Mouvement écologique (Luxembourg), Nature & Progrès Belgique (Belgium), Pesticide Action Network Germany (Germany), Pesticide Action Network Netherlands (Netherlands), Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (Sweden), and Via Pontica Foundation (Bulgaria).

We urge immediate action to protect our water resources and the health of European citizens.

You can read the report here.

You can read the full text of the letter here.

 

 

NGO Briefing for the Council on the Soil Monitoring Law

A group of non-governmental organizations have made their recommendations to the Member States’ experts involved in negotiations regarding the Soil Monitoring Law (SML). The Via Pontica Foundation fully supports these views and aims to contribute to achieving an ambitious and effective position that can set soils on a path to recovery by 2030.

This document aims to support the ongoing discussions, recognizing that the Commission’s proposal lacks several key elements and the European Parliament’s position from April 10 is concerningly weak. We believe that the Council has the opportunity to negotiate a more ambitious and effective stance that will lead to long-term positive changes in the condition of soils in the European Union.

It is estimated that 60-70% of EU soils are unhealthy, which is a critical situation given the importance of healthy soil ecosystems in addressing many of today’s challenges. The Commission’s proposal for the SML aims to “continuously improve soil health in the Union with a view to achieving healthy soils by 2050,” but it lacks legally binding targets to ensure the timely achievement of this goal. We recommend the inclusion of long-term and intermediate legally binding targets to guide the efforts of Member States and track their progress.

The “one out all out” principle proposed by the Commission represents a strict approach and provides limited information on overall soil health. A more comprehensive and precise system would reflect the different statuses of soil health, such as the categorization into five ecological status classes proposed by the European Parliament.

The Directive should require the Commission to establish binding thresholds for soil descriptors across the EU. If this is not possible, Member States should apply existing scientifically based thresholds and methods, consulting scientific committees.

To capture the capacity of soils as a life-support system, a definition of soil biodiversity and its functions needs to be introduced. This will include additional descriptors and mandatory monitoring and assessment of soil biodiversity by all Member States.

To address soil pollution, the SML should include a comprehensive list of pollutants to be monitored and assessed, such as pesticides, heavy metals, microplastics, and others.

Article 10 should remain intact and be supported with a clear roadmap for implementing sustainable soil management practices and phasing out practices that negatively impact soil health. The European Parliament significantly weakened this article, so it is essential that the Council takes a strong stance.

The Commission proposed important provisions for public participation and access to information, which should be preserved and improved by the Council. These include procedures for informing the public and engaging affected and vulnerable groups.

The “polluter pays” principle is crucial for the EU’s environmental policy. The SML should clearly emphasize this principle by including mechanisms for its implementation and obligations for financial guarantees to cover the costs of pollution.

The Via Pontica Foundation urges the Council to adopt an ambitious and effective position on the Soil Monitoring Law, ensuring healthy soils and sustainable environmental management for future generations.

#CAPreform Open letter to MEPs

The “Via Pontica” Foundation, actively engaged in nature conservation and ecological well-being, recently signed an important open letter to the Members of the European Parliament. The letter, which can be found on the Pesticides Action Network Europe website, addresses serious environmental and agricultural policy issues within Europe.

The purpose of the letter is to advocate for the preservation of environmental conditions in the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It expresses concern about the European Commission’s attempts to reduce the stringency of these conditions, which could have significant negative impacts on the environment.

Via Pontica is one of the many organizations that have signed this document, underscoring its commitment to protecting natural resources and promoting sustainable practices. By doing so, the foundation reaffirms its role as a key player in ecosystem protection and maintaining healthy relationships between humans and nature.

Signing the open letter also highlights the foundation’s commitment to European-level cooperation and its participation in international initiatives aimed at positively influencing policies crucial for the ecological future of the continent.

In times when environmental challenges are becoming more pressing, the actions of the “Via Pontica” Foundation and its participation in such initiatives are essential for ensuring a sustainable future. The call to European legislators to consider ecological sustainability in agricultural policy is key to maintaining a healthy environment and protecting natural resources in Europe.

Open letter to the Belgian premier De Croo

The Via Pontica Foundation Joins International Coalition in Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Belgium and the President of the European Commission

In an act of solidarity and commitment to environmental protection and sustainable development, the Via Pontica Foundation joined an impressive coalition of non-governmental organizations to express its deep outrage at the recent event organized by the Belgian Presidency of the EU in collaboration with the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) and its Belgian member Essenscia. The event, held at the BASF chemical plant in Antwerp, brought together high-level political leaders and representatives of the chemical and other energy-intensive industrial sectors in a closed meeting, which raised serious concerns among environmental defenders.

The open letter, addressed to the Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander de Croo and the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, expresses outrage that by participating in this event, the high-level leaders have failed to recognize the culpability of corporate interests contributing to the climate crisis, toxic pollution, and the biodiversity crisis. These crises pose a threat to the lives of communities around the world.

The letter emphasizes that over the past five years, chemical corporations and their lobbying groups have waged an intensive campaign in Brussels and across Europe to undermine the ambitious regulations promised by the von der Leyen Commission. This includes strategies such as the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and the Farm to Fork Strategy, which aim to limit hazardous chemicals in consumer and agricultural products in the EU.

The Via Pontica Foundation, as an active participant in environmental protection and sustainable development, expresses its concern about this event and supports the call to stop providing privileged access to industries known for their harmful products and practices. The organization insists on the ambitious implementation of key sustainability strategies.

Through this participation, the Via Pontica Foundation continues its mission to restore sustainable ecosystems and take active steps to restore the connection between people and nature.

Here is the full text of the letter:

 

To the attention of Prime Minister Alexander de Croo
cc European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

Dear Prime Minister De Croo,

20 February 2024

We are appalled that today the Belgian Presidency of the EU is organising, alongside the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) and its Belgian industry member Essenscia, a closed event for chemical and other intensive industrial energy users and high-level political leaders at BASF’s chemicals plant in Antwerp.

By overseeing and participating in this event you have failed to recognise the culpability of the corporate interests attending in contributing to the climate, toxic pollution, and biodiversity crises which pose a tremendous risk to planetary boundaries and a death threat to communities around the world. These crises are a result of decades of irresponsible corporate decision-making that has insisted on producing and using hazardous substances and burning fossil fuels for profit.

In the past five years, BASF, other chemical corporations and intensive energy users, and their lobby groups, have waged a huge lobby campaign in Brussels and across Europe to undermine and destroy ambitious regulations promised by the von der Leyen Commission. The goals of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability and the Farm to Fork strategy to restrict hazardous chemicals in consumer and agricultural uses in the EU, as well as to prevent the export of banned substances, including chemicals and pesticides, have faded away. Meanwhile industry has also secured massive support for new fossil fuel infrastructure and for false solutions to the climate crisis such as hydrogen, carbon capture, and offsets.

Industry has a long history of crying wolf and exaggerating the consequences of progressive green policies. And, in a big year for elections in Belgium and across the EU, too many politicians are falling for the rhetoric that there should be a “pause” in new environmental rules and that net zero is somehow as good as real zero. Politicians have a responsibility to show genuine leadership rather than following the latest greed-driven, populist, scaremongering.

But rather than spearheading an approach to stand up to these lobbies and reverse these trends, instead today you are rewarding big polluting industries with privileged access to high-level decision-makers and the expectation of even more political and policy support.

This event is an insult to communities in Flanders, not least those living with PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ pollution from the 3M plant in Antwerp; in Wallonia; and across the rest of the EU and beyond; who are currently confronting the reality of the industry-generated toxic pollution crisis in terms of their personal health and that of their local biodiversity, air, water, and soils.

This event with its emphasis on industry’s “business case” and even a “European Industrial Deal” is entirely wrong-headed, and sits at odds with your Presidency’s promise of “decisive and holistic action” to tackle the climate, biodiversity, and pollution crises. It puts big business in the driving seat to promote its agenda of avoiding legislation, demanding public subsidy, and pushing a corporate greenwashed, deeply-flawed ‘net zero’ approach.

This event, and the political agenda it represents, should not be going ahead.

  • We urge you and all other political leaders attending to stop providing such privileged access to industries that are known for their harmful products and practices, as well as for their lobbying against action for healthier communities, resilient ecosystems, and genuine carbon reduction.
  • We implore you to prioritise the protection of citizens and environments suffering from chemical, pesticide, and fossil fuel pollution, and to fight for an ambitious implementation of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, the Farm to Fork strategy, and action to ensure that big polluters can no longer evade responsibility for the climate crisis.Signed byARCHE NOAH
    Arnika – Toxics and Waste Programme
    Association For Promotion Sustainable Development , Association of Ethical Shareholders Germany
    Aurelia Stiftung
    Bond Beter Leefmilieu
    Break Free From Plastic Europe
    Broederlijk Delen
    Canopea
    Child Rights International Network (CRIN)
    CIEL
    ClientEarth
    Climate Express
    Climaxi
    Corporate Europe Observatory
    Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V.
    Eco Hvar
    ECOCITY
    Ecologistas en Acción
    Ecology without borders foundation
    EEB European Environmental Bureau
    Entraide et Fraternité
    EnvMed Network – Europan Network for Environmental Medicine Euro Coop
    Exit Plastik Alliance
    Foodwatch International
    Foundation for the protection of Biodiversity in Bulgaria
    Friends of the Earth Europe
    Générations Futures
    GLOBAL 2000 Austria
    GMWatch

Greenpeace Belgique Grondrecht

Grootouders voor het Klimaat Hamraah Foundation

Health & Environment Alliance (HEAL)
Health and Environment Justice Support (HEJSupport) Hogar sin Tóxicos
Humundi
IndyAct
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Europe
Isde, International Society of Doctors for Environment Klimaatcoalitie Coalition Climat
La Grande Puissance de Dieu
Les Amis de la Terre – Belgique
LobbyControl
Muchi Children’s Home
Natagora
Nature & Progrès
Navdanya International
Observatoire du principe pollueur-payeur
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe
Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Germany
Pesticide Action Network in Mexico (RAPAM)
Pesticide Action Network Netherlands
Plastic Change
Plastic Soup Foundation
Plough Back The Fruits
Polish Zero Waste Association
POLLINIS
Race for Water
Recycling Netwerk Benelux
Société Scientifique de Médecine Générale (SSMG)
SOS Faim
Stichting Mission Lanka
The Good Lobby
TROCA – Plataforma por um Comércio Internacional Justo Via Pontica Foundation
WeMove Europe
Women Engage for a Common Future – WECF
Women on Farms Project, South Africa
ZERO – Association for the Sustainability of the Earth System 11 march movement

Please send any replies to Vicky Cann, Corporate Europe Observatory

vicky@corporateeurope.org

#industrialdeal, #AntwerpDeclaration, #BigToxics, #toxicfreepolitics

CHILDREN’S DRAWING COMPETITION dedicated to World Wetlands Day – February 2

Via Pontica Foundation organizes a CHILDREN’S DRAWING COMPETITION dedicated to World Wetlands Day – February 2 on the topic: Wetlands: Source of life and human well-being

Conditions for participation:
Competition works will be divided into three age groups:
7 – 12 years;
13 – 16 years
16 – 18 years

The originals of the drawings must be in A3 format.
Any materials and techniques from the visual arts (including graphic programs) are allowed for the presentation of ideas.
Each author can participate with 1 drawing.
Each drawing must be accompanied by a short text summarizing the author’s idea, an information sheet for the participant, which states: name of the educational institution, the three names of the author, age, city, address, contact phone number.

Deadline for sending the works: 16.02.2024

Send the works scanned to the email address: office@viapontica.org
Technical parameters of images: size – up to 5 MB; resolution – max 300 dpi; allowed formats – JPG, PNG, TIF, TIFF
or
on site at the office of the “Via Pontika” Foundation – Burgas, “Ivan Vazov” Blvd. No. 1, railway station station – floor 2
Winners announced: February 20, 2024.

Drawings will be judged by a professional jury comprising artists and environmental scientists/experts. The most interesting drawings will be published in electronic form on the website of the “Via Pontica” Foundation.

PRIZES: certificates for all participants in the competition, subject prizes for the first 3 places awarded.

Via Pontica Foundation is now member of PAN Europe

The Via Pontica Foundation is proud to announce its inclusion as a full member of PAN Europe (Pesticides Action Network Europe). This partnership represents a significant step in the foundation’s efforts to work to create sustainable and healthy ecosystems, as well as to improve the relationship between people and nature, said the foundation’s founder and Chairperson of the Managing Board, Ina Agafonova.

PAN Europe is an organization that seeks to reduce dependence on synthetic pesticides and promote agro-ecological farming methods. The main objective of the organization is to protect the health of workers and rural residents, especially children, while protecting the environment and biodiversity. PAN Europe is a science-oriented organization composed of experts in various fields related to pesticides.

The inclusion of the Via Pontica Foundation in PAN Europe is a logical continuation of the foundation’s long-standing efforts in the field of environmental protection. With this move, the foundation not only expands its scope of influence at the European level, but also gets the opportunity to share and apply science-based methods for sustainable agriculture and ecosystem management. This aligns perfectly with the foundation’s mission to restore sustainable ecosystems with a focus on biodiversity reservoirs – wetlands and active steps to restore the relationship between people and nature.

The Via Pontica Foundation already has experience in the implementation and coordination of projects, including with EU funding, and is an active participant in the protection of species and habitats on land and water. Membership of PAN Europe will allow the foundation to actively participate in the development of policies and strategies at the European level related to the sustainable use of land and resources.

With this strategic move, the Via Pontica Foundation and PAN Europe are joining forces to work together to achieve their common goals: creating a sustainable future where man and nature coexist in harmony.

Agroecological Transition in Bulgaria: Integrated Pest Management with Biocontrol

 

Pesticide Action Network Europe, together with the member of the European Parliament, Radan Kanev, the organizations IBMA and IOBC-WPRS,  and Member of the Bulgarian Parliament Albena Simeonova Varbanova, invites you to an online symposium entitled ” Agroecological transition in Bulgaria: Integrated pest management with biocontrol as a foundation for reducing pesticide use in arable crops”.

PAN Europe is a non-governmental organization that works to minimize the negative effects and replace the use of hazardous chemicals with environmentally friendly alternatives. Its network brings together public health and environmental organizations and women’s groups from 19 European countries. It works to eliminate reliance on chemical pesticides and to maintain safe, sustainable methods of pest control.

OBC/WPRS is an international organization of progressive European researchers and other informed people, investigating the use of sustainable, environmentally safe, economically feasible, socially acceptable methods of pest and disease control in agricultural crops.

IBMA is an association of the biocontrol industries producing solutions: microorganisms, macro-organisms, semi-chemicals and natural plant protection products.

 

Date: March 6, 2023

Duration: 09:00 to 12:00 CET (10:00 – 13:00 EET)

Place: Online – Zoom platform

Language: direct translation into Bulgarian and English

With the participation of scientists and experts from Europe.

 

The talk will be about:

  • Scientific evidence supporting the transition to agroecology.
  • Correlation between biodiversity and yields.
  • Increasing the application of Integrated Pest Management together with biocontrol, to significantly reduce the need for pesticide application.
  • Tools that farmers can use in the transitional period.
  • Experiences of farmers who successfully reduced the use of pesticides.

To ensure food safety, the necessity of establishing a sustainable food production system is of utmost importance. Conservation of natural resources – soil fertility and biodiversity restoration – are the absolute key to sustaining food production for future generations.

Programme:

The meeting will be chaired by David Cary

9.00 Start of the meeting

  • Welcome by IBMA / PAN Europe
  • Welcome by MEP Radan Kanev

9.10 Keynote speeches

  • “Is a 2050 chemical pesticide-free world possible?” – Christian Huyghe, Scientific Director of Agriculture, INRAE
  • Alignment of the Bulgarian NAP with the F2F pesticide reduction targets – Borislav Sandov, former Deputy Prime Minister for Climate Policies and former Minister of Environment

09:40 State of the environment and agricultural production

  • Insects decline in correlation with yield stability – Prof. Daniela Atanasova Entomologist at Agriculture University of Plovdiv
  • Agro-ecological transition in Bulgaria in practice – Prof. Nidal Shaban, University of Forestry

10:10  Ecological transition facilitated by biocontrol

  • Biological control solutions and their benefits – their essential role for a complete agroecological transition working with nature – IBMA Executive Director, Jennifer Lewis, IBMA
  • Experiences with agro-ecological solutions in conventional arable farming – Biobest Group Director Research & Development,  Felix Wäckers
  • Results in pesticides reduction by using biocontrol – Amitiza, Svilen Smilenov, Bulgaria

10:55 Alternatives to chemical pesticides and tools to facilitate the transition in arable crops

  • Policy tools helping farmers in transition to agroecology in maize production – Academic Researcher from University of Padua, Lorenzo Furlan
  • Alternatives to synthetic pesticides in arable farming – Member of the Bulgarian Parliament, Albena Simeonova
  • Alternatives to neonicotinoids in arable – Bulgarian Conventional Farmer, Yosif Delgyanski

11:45 Debate with participants

  • Minister, MEPs, NGOs

11:55 Closing word – Martin Dermine, PAN Europe

SEE the FULL PROGRAM

Please, register on the Eventbrite page (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/agroecological-transition-in-bulgaria-tickets-553097518567). On Monday morning you will receive the link to join the symposium.

Feel free to share this information in your circles.

 

Poisonous Imports through the Back Door

Banned pesticides found in fruit and vegetables from overseas in the pesticide test by GLOBAL 2000 and AK Upper Austria

The environmental organisation GLOBAL 2000 and the Chamber of Labour of Upper Austria have tested mangoes, pomegranates, sweet peas and green beans for pesticides.

Pesticide residues were found on more than three quarters of the products, in half of the cases even multiple contamination with up to seven different active substances. In addition to two cases where the legal maximum levels were exceeded, the testers also discovered several active substances that are banned in the EU.

Especially in the winter months, the products examined come from countries such as Kenya, Morocco, Brazil or Turkey. These countries are not subject to EU legislation and can therefore use pesticides that are banned in the EU. However, the inconsistent approach of the EU makes this situation very delicate: In the EU, pesticide active substances lose their authorisation if a risk to consumers or the environment cannot be ruled out (anymore). The EU then sets the legal maximum residue levels for all products to a minimum value, the so-called limit of detection (usually 0.01 mg/kg). For some foodstuffs imported from non-EU countries, however, alarmingly high maximum residue levels of up to 10 mg/kg are set.

 

Double standards of the EU

 

Waltraud Novak, pesticide expert at GLOBAL 2000, says: “The EU grants so-called import tolerances within the framework of trade agreements in order to ‘meet the requirements of international trade’. This allows countries where these pesticides – banned in the EU – are still allowed, to export their products to the EU. In this way, food containing harmful pesticides, from which consumers should be protected by the EU ban, can legally end up on European plates.

Novak continues: “An example of this double standard are the tested mangoes: The active ingredient Carbendazim found in our test is banned in the EU since several years because of its health effects. It can cause genetic defects, impair fertility and even harm the child in the womb. In mangoes, however, this pesticide has a maximum value of 0.5 mg/kg, so it is fifty times above the detection limit of 0.01 mg”.

Health must come before profit

Novak also points to the effects outside the EU: “Workers in the producing countries have to handle those highly dangerous substances – often with inadequate protective equipment. We also found pesticides, which are banned in the EU, in green beans and sugar snap peas from Kenya.

GLOBAL 2000 and the Chamber of Labour of Upper Austria are therefore calling on Health Minister Johannes Rauch to take action at EU level to ensure that pesticides that are harmful to health do not end up on our plates via detours. No import tolerances for dangerous substances into the EU!

What can consumers do?

Novak recommends consumers to pay attention to seasonality and regionality when shopping: “Seasonal, regional products are usually less contaminated with pesticides. However, only products from organic farming are really safe, as no synthetic chemical pesticides are used in organic farming.

Consumers can also find out about the current pesticide contamination of fruit and vegetables, for example at www.billa.at/prp.

There, the supermarket chain Billa, in cooperation with GLOBAL 2000, regularly publishes the results of its in-house residue controls. Every week, random samples of the entire fresh fruit and vegetable assortment are tested for pesticide residues in accredited laboratories and the results are published on the homepage.

 

Sign GLOBAL 2000’s petition for rapid implementation of EU pesticide reduction at https://www.global2000.at/pestizid-reduktion-fordern

 

Pesticid test_banned pesticides_230215 en-GB

 

 

World Wetlands Day 2023

World Wetlands Day is celebrated on the second day of February every year.

What are wetlands?

Land areas that are saturated or flooded with water either permanently or seasonally.

Inland wetlands:

Marshes, lakes, rivers, floodplains, peatlands and swamps.

Coastal wetlands:

Saltwater marshes, estuaries, mangroves, lagoons and coral reefs.

Human-made wetlands:

Fish ponds, rice paddies and salt pans.

Wetlands are among the most important types of ecosystems. Their functions and services are essential for human lives and biodiversity.

Statement by Dr. Musonda Mumba, Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands:

„Wherever land meets water, life abounds. Wetlands exist in every corner of this beautiful planet and are the arteries and veins of the landscape. Majestic and mighty, wetlands are a sight to behold.

World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on 2nd of February. The commemoration raises awareness and increases people’s understanding of the critical importance of wetlands. Wetlands support critical ecosystems and biodiversity. 40 percent of all plant and animal species live or breed in wetlands.

Wetlands are rich in nature and vital to human life. They are crucial to agriculture and fisheries. They act as water sources, purifiers and protect our shores. Wetlands are the planet’s greatest natural carbon stores.

To date, nearly 90 percent of the world’s wetlands have been degraded or lost. We are losing wetlands three times faster than forests. There is an urgency to raise global awareness on wetlands to arrest and reverse their rapid loss and encourage actions to restore and conserve these vital ecosystems.

The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands invites you to join the World Wetlands Day celebrations on 2nd February 2023; it is now recognized by the UN as an “International Day”. The theme for the day is ‘It’s ‘Time for Wetland Restoration’. With only seven years left until 2030 for us to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, time is of the essence for sure.

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is a great opportunity for all of us to rethink and change how humans impact the environment – and a chance to restore vital ecosystems like wetlands. Through activating all the relevant players from the general public to key stakeholders, we’re mobilizing an entire generation for wetland restoration.

For World Wetlands Day 2023, we’re calling on you to take action in three specific ways:

  • Conscious choices to minimize our own impact on wetlands
  • Persuasive voices to educate and activate others to get involved in wetland restoration
  • Bold actions and taking part in wetland restoration efforts locally

Governments and other stakeholders are critical actors towards ensuring wetland restoration actions are being implemented on the ground. Three actions that can spearhead these restoration efforts include:

  • Creating a national inventory of wetlands
  • Setting specific targets for wetland restoration
  • Promoting wise use and good management practices

Be a part of the solution by influencing change and sharing your stories of conservation and restoration efforts with us from your countries and communities.“