NEW YORK – Feb. 2, 2012 – Every Feb. 2, people all over the globe celebrate World Wetlands Day, commemorating the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971, an intergovernmental treaty signed by 161 countries that recognizes the value and splendor of our wetland resources. This year's celebration was made all the more momentous earlier today as Ducks Unlimited and Ramsar signed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) in New York City.
The MOC signing event was attended by approximately 100 people and took place in the Basildon Room of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel beginning at 4:00 p.m., prior to the start of DU's 75th anniversary kickoff event. Dale Hall, CEO of Ducks Unlimited, and Anada Tiéga, secretary general for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, presented and signed the MOC. John Newman, president of DU; John Tomke, president of DU de Mexico; Tom Worden, president of DU Canada; and John Childs, president of Wetlands America Trust also offered their remarks.
The MOC acknowledges the common ground between Ramsar and DU and seeks to enhance the organizations' coordination and collaboration on these common priorities. Ramsar's mission is to help government agencies, non-governmental organizations, conservation organizations—such as Ducks Unlimited—and groups of citizens raise public awareness worldwide about the importance and value of wetlands. Nearly 43 million acres on 2,000 Ramsar sites worldwide have been designated as wetlands of international importance.
"As our conservation efforts go on across North America, we appreciate the work of Ramsar and other international organizations dedicated to the conservation of wetlands worldwide," Hall says. "This memorandum of cooperation reinforces our great partnership and a shared desire to keep wetland health at the forefront of the world stage."
The agreement falls at an especially auspicious time for both groups: Ramsar's 40th anniversary celebration wraps up today, as DU's yearlong 75th anniversary celebration begins. "For 40 years, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has been supporting international action and cooperation for the wise use of wetlands and their resources," Newman said during the signing ceremony. "Together, DU and Ramsar work tirelessly to stem the loss of wetlands and associated resources for the benefit of humans, waterfowl and associated wetland species."
In his speech at the signing, Tiéga acknowledged Ramsar's passing of the wetlands conservation baton to Ducks Unlimited as DU's milestone anniversary year begins. "I am especially proud to say that with the signing of the memorandum of cooperation, the whole Ramsar and Ducks Unlimited family will continue to join hands in implementing a new partnership that will ... create a new surge in a global wave of activity towards the conservation of wetlands and wildlife habitats and in ecosystem services work, science and technology, public policy and public awareness and training," he said.
World Wetlands Day has been celebrated since 1997 and, each year, is given a new theme. This year's theme is "Wetlands and Tourism,"—outdoor recreation, such as hunting, fishing, bird watching and hiking. A key to public recognition of the importance of wetland habitats and the wildlife they support, this theme is of shared concern to both organizations. More information on Ramsar and World Wetlands Day can be found at www.ramsar.org.
DU and Ramsar representatives at the MOC signing: (left to right) Paul Schmidt, DU chief conservation officer; John Tomke, president of DU de Mexico; Anada Tiéga, Ramsar secretary general; John Newman, president of DU Inc.; Dale Hall, DU Inc. CEO; Tom Worden, president of DU Canada; and John Childs, president of Wetlands America Trust
Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, DU is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, with special events, projects and promotions across the continent. Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.