Every 2nd of February each year is World Wetlands Day (WWD). This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The celebration aims to raise public awareness on the importance and value of wetlands. The Philippine government adopted its local celebration in 1999 with Presidential Proclamation No. 74, “Declaring February 2 of each year as National Wetlands Day.” The said event coincides with the worldwide celebration of the WWD.
“Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction” has been adopted as this year’s celebration theme to highlight the role of wetlands as a natural safeguard against disasters. The theme emanated from Ramsar Resolution XII.13 Wetlands and Disaster Risk Reduction which the Philippines authored. The DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) as focal agency for implementing the Ramsar Convention in the country, will take the lead in the Philippine celebration of the 2017 WWD. In celebration of the WWD, BMB and the Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands (SCPW) partnered in a series of activities including:
- Launching of the Atlas of Philippine Inland Wetlands and Classified Caves and SCPW’s Youth Eco-camp Module;
- Ramsar Roundtable Discussion on Wetlands and Disaster Risk Reduction and
- Youth Eco-camp in Talisay, Batangas
WWD’s Youth Eco-camp is in coordination with DENR Region 4A, PENRO Batangas, Taal Volcano Protected Landscape Office, LGU Talisay and DepEd Talisay District Office. Thirty (30) student-leaders and five (5) teachers from the five (5) schools in Talisay namely: San Guillermo Academy, Talisay Polytechnic Institute, Talisay High School, Balas Buco Sta. Maria National High School and Talisay School of Agriculture will participate in the said Eco-camp on February 13-15, 2017.
Moreover, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in partnership with Star Alliance Biosphere Connection (SABC) is organizing a Wetland Youth Photo Contest from February 2, 2017 to March 2, 2017. Participants aged 18-25 years old can join the contest. Photo entries must depict a picture of any type of wetland that helps us cope with extreme weather events and must be uploaded to www.worldwetlandsday.org on or before March 2, 2017 for a chance to win a free flight courtesy of SABC and visit a Wetland of International Importance (Ramsar Site).
The Ramsar Secretariat has provided awareness and information materials for the WWD. These can be accessed from www.worldwetlandsday.org.
Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction: The 2017 Philippine celebration of the World Wetlands Day
The DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) joins 168 other Ramsar member countries in celebrating the World Wetlands Day (WWD) on February 2, 2017 with this year’s theme, “Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction.” The celebration was held at the BMB Training Center, Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City. Highlighting the event was the book launching of two publications - BMB’s “Atlas of Philippine Inland Wetlands and Classified Caves” and Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands’ (SCPW) “Youth Eco-Camp Training Manual” and the Round Table Discussion on Ramsar Resolution XII.13 “Wetlands and Disaster Risk Reduction.”
Dr. Vincent Hilomen, Executive Director for Priority Programs and Coastal and Marine of the BMB
Ms. Amy Lecciones, SCPW’s Vice President and Ramsar NGO CEPA Focal Point
Dr. Vincent Hilomen, Executive Director for Priority Programs and Coastal and Marine of the BMB emphasized in his welcome remarks the critical role of maintaining healthy wetlands in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation as embodied in the Philippine-authored Ramsar Resolution XII.13. Ms. Amy Lecciones, SCPW’s Vice President and Ramsar NGO CEPA Focal Point discussed some of their actual experiences in conducting Youth Ecological Camps. She introduced Ms. Maria Laiya delos Reyes, a pioneer Eco-Camp student and Ms. Wilma Artitchea, Training of Trainors teacher-participant who shared their testimonials about their own Eco-Camp and Training of Trainors experience. Ms. Lennie Santos of the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) also talked about the Eco-camps conducted and the potential use of the Manual in organizing future youth camps and engaging the youth.
Round table discussion on the Philippine-authored Ramsar Resolution on Wetlands and Disaster Risk Reduction
Meanwhile, the Round Table Discussion tackled the challenges and opportunities under the Ramsar Resolution XII.13 “Wetlands and Disaster Risk Reduction” such as the enhanced collaboration of concerned agencies in sustaining wetland ecosystem services. A total of 80 participants (27 Males and 53 Females) from the Office of Senator Cynthia Villar, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of National Defense - Office of Civil Defense, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Laguna Lake Development Authority headed by General Manager Joey Medina, National Water Regulatory Board, Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Soils and Water Management, National Irrigation Administration, University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, Society for the Conservation of Philippine Wetlands, and UN World Food Programme attended the WWD celebration.