The Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, Ambassador Gian Lorenzo Cornado, took the floor today in the context of the High Level Ministerial Segment of the 14th Meeting of the Conference of Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on wetlands .
“As pointed out in the theme of this COP14, thirty-five percent of the world’s natural wetlands have been lost since 1970, three times faster than forest loss, putting many wetland-dependent species in a state of threat or risk of extinction, and this despite the efforts made to implement the Ramsar Convention and other relevant international law such as the Convention on Biological Diversity or the Convention on Migratory Species.
We need actions for the conservation of wetlands, and not only for reasons of natural protection, but also because we need their ecosystem services in the perspective of climate change. Because wetlands hold large amounts of carbon, through the natural process of biosequestration(the capture and storage of atmospheric greenhouse gases by biological processes), the fate of existing wetlands is a factor in predicting carbon emissions. The loss of an existing wetland means not only the loss of that particular carbon sink, but also the release of carbon stored in that wetland. “
Ambassador Cornado also stated that: “Italy considers the conservation of wetlands to be of the utmost importance. Our country includes 57 areas listed in the list of wetlands of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, located in 15 different regions, for a total of 73,982 hectares. Italy has recently approved the proposal for a further 9 areas and the procedure for their inclusion in the international list is underway.
A great example of a Ramsar designation site in Italy is the most important of our coastal lagoons, the famous Venice Lagoon, under the scrutiny of UNESCO, ICOMOS and the Ramsar Convention. This site is one of the few in the Mediterranean region to be fed by a tidal regime and one of the richest in biodiversity; this vast wetland area (500 sq km) has allowed for centuries to combine artistic and natural values, supporting a large human population, a peculiar culture and – currently – an unrivaled tourist economy. “
Ambassador Cornado then concluded by recalling that: “Wetlands must be managed with a sustainable approach.
As participants in the high-level ministerial segment, we are urged to adopt the Wuhan Declaration to develop policies that can benefit wetlands, their ecosystems and species, and the human populations that depend on them.
We need to share a vision, specific programs and action plans to enable the human community to develop a sustainable future: in this framework, the work of the Ramsar Convention, one of the first Multilateral Agreements on the Environment to address the protection of environment fifty years ago is still relevant and therefore we agree to work together, based on the principle of cooperation, to develop common tools to apply the principles of the Convention.”