31 January 2013

Namibia: International Wetlands Day to Be Marked in Karas

NAMIBIA will jointly celebrate International Wetlands Day and the World Water Day at the end of March at Rosh Pinah, the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) has announced.

International Wetlands Day is celebrated on February 2 every year, while World Water Day is marked on March 22.

NNF project coordinator Undjee Tjivikua says the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, NamWater and the Wetlands Working Group of Namibia will join forces with other NGOs such as the Namibia Nature Foundation to commemorate International Wetlands Day day.

Namibia is a party to the 1971 Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, known as the Ramsar Convention - an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for international cooperation on the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

Tjivikua said the global theme for this year's International Wetlands Day is 'UN International Year of Water Cooperation.'

He said the theme comes at a very exciting time, when Namibia has identified a new site to be added to the four existing Ramsar sites in Namibia. The lower Okavango River is in the process of being declared such a site.

The objective of this International Year of Water Cooperation is to raise awareness of the potential for greater cooperation, and of the challenges facing water management in light of the increase in demand for water access, allocation and services.

This year the history of successful water cooperation initiatives and linkages with the Millennium Development Goals will be highlighted as part of the commemoration.

Each year a different national wetland in Namibia is highlighted. This year the Orange River has been selected, in light of the theme for this year, which is transboundary cooperation.

Cynthia Ortmann, chairperson of the Namibian Wetlands Committee, said Namibia must realise the importance of an integrated approach when it comes to water management, "ensuring we conserve and use our resources sustainably".

She said wetlands have to be safeguarded, as they provide key habitats for wildlife and vegetation. "Some of the wildlife and plants that depend greatly on the wetlands are being threatened," she said.

The existing Namibian Ramsar sites are the Orange River Mouth, Etosha Pan, Sandwich Harbour and Walvis Bay Lagoon.

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