Connect with wetlands for human and planetary health
Open-letter from Youth Engaged in Wetlands on International Youth Day 2021

Dear reader,

Wetlands, one of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems, connect us all. They have given rise to human civilizations, providing key habitats for species, clean water and capturing greenhouse gases from our atmosphere -- they are the basis for our survival, a silent revolution for climate change mitigation and adaptation and critical in maintaining human and planetary health.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands in Ramsar, Iran -- a groundbreaking commitment by global leaders to protect these vital ecosystems, setting the tenor for subsequent environmental agreements. In a world that was and still is relishing on fossil fuel extraction, unhinged deforestation, land conversion, and large biodiversity loss, the Convention stands as a bold and necessary commitment to the world.

Yet, fifty years have passed and wetlands are disappearing faster than ever, and with them the vital connections on which we all depend. The degradation of mangroves and salt marshes threaten communities and biodiversity along our coastlines. Loss of carbon rich peatlands are releasing potent greenhouse gases directly contributing to climate change. Loss of lakes and marshes have decreased fish populations and livelihoods for Indigenous and local communities, with the most vulnerable bearing the brunt of the loss. Guaranteeing human and planetary health is our collective mandate and we are dangerously letting ourselves down.

That spirit of change that the founding fathers and mothers instilled in 1971 against the backdrop of a world that is reluctant to change is what we need now.

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