Data Card - Cohesion policies and wetlands

31/01/2024

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, signed in Ramsar (Iran) on 2 February 1971, recognizes “the interdependence of man and his environment”.

The text, which in Italy was ratified and made executive with the Presidential Decree of 13 March 1976, n. 448 and with the following Presidential Decree of 11 February 1987, n. 184, further explained - more than fifty years ago, twenty years before the Rio de Janeiro conference on sustainable development - that "wetlands constitute a resource of great economic, cultural, scientific and recreational value, the disappearance of which would be irreparable”.

These are the elements that, from 2022, the United Nations will also celebrate on World Wetlands Day, to underline the importance of the Convention which aims to achieve the international protection of wetlands "through their identification and delimitation, the study of the characteristic aspects, in particular of avifauna, and the implementation of programmes that allow the conservation of their habitats, flora and fauna".

The object of the Convention is the great variety of wetlands: swamps and marshes, peat bogs, natural or artificial, permanent or transitory water basins, with stagnant or flowing water, fresh, brackish or salt, including expanses of water marina, whose depth, during low tide, does not exceed six meters.

Up to today, 172 countries have signed the Convention and more than 2,400 Ramsar sites have been designated for a total area of more than 250 million hectares. In Italy, the wetlands of international importance recognized and included in the list of the Ramsar Convention are currently 57, distributed in 15 Regions (out of which 9 in Sardinia), for a total of 73,982 hectares. The complete list is on the website of the Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security. Furthermore, Ministerial Decrees establish a further 9 areas and, at the moment, the procedure for their international recognition is underway.

Expansion of the network and protection are so much importance, as the material prepared by the Convention for World Wetlands Day 2024 reminds us, wetlands are in danger, given that they are being lost three times faster than forests: more than 80% of all wetlands have disappeared since 1700 and this trend is accelerating. Since 1970, in fact, at least 35% of wetlands have been lost.

The representatives of the countries gathered in Ramsar in the early 1970s were clear in stating that this is not just an environmental issue. It is no coincidence that the theme of World Day 2024 is "Wetlands and human well-being". This year's campaign highlights the interconnection between wetlands and human life, which draws sustenance from these productive ecosystems, inspiration and resilience. Many aspects of human well-being are linked to the health of the world's wetlands. Therefore, each of us should value and care for our wetlands. “Every wetland matters. Every effort matters.” Even cohesion policy is caring about the conservation of wetlands and promotes knowledge of them, by financing projects relating to multiple themes, Environment, Culture and tourism, Transport and mobility.