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News article8 February 2023Directorate-General for Environment2 min read

World Wetlands Day and EMAS

Every year, on February 2, it is World Wetlands Day to call attention to the most endangered ecosystem on Earth. This year’s theme is “Revive and restore degraded wetlands”.

picture of a wetland, marsh
Photo by Andrew Coates, Unsplash

Wetland is the general term for an area where the soil is permanently or seasonally covered by water. Some examples of wetlands are mangroves, peatlands, marshes, rivers, lakes, deltas, and coral reefs. The ecosystem occurs around the world in every climate zone and comes with high biodiversity.

Oftentimes, we refer to wetlands as the “kidneys of the world” due to their ability to regulate and filter water and absorb carbon. Peatlands alone store twice as much carbon as the forests of the world; although they cover less than five percent of the earth. Wetlands also provide the living ground for a high percentage of all animal and plant species. Yet the ecosystem’s importance has commonly been overseen and human activities have resulted in a rapid decline. In the last 50 years, 35% of wetlands have disappeared.

The theme of this year’s World Wetland Day is “Revive and restore degraded wetlands”. Wetlands provide many benefits that are vital in the mitigation of and adaptation to the climate crisis. Through the restoration, they can return to their natural functions for the most part. Moreover, the message is to re-think the way we are valuing the ecosystem. By acknowledging its role as a water purifier, a natural flood and storm defense, a carbon sink, a biodiverse hotspot, and a potential recreational space, we can build a sustainable economy around it.

How it ties in with EMAS

Organisations both make use of and rely on functioning ecosystems. Therefore, it is essential to learn about the relevance of biodiversity for their business and to contribute to its preservation. As part of the EMAS implementation process, an internal environmental policy has to be established that takes biodiversity into account to evaluate the context of the organisation. The execution needs to be assessed in the annual Environmental Statement with reporting on biodiversity and land use concerning biodiversity as core elements.

To help decrease the degradation of wetlands organisations require to take conscious decisions on their resource consumption, especially water, and their use of toxic materials. With EMAS the European Commission has provided a tool that helps organisations to monitor, assess and manage their impact to reach continuous improvement in their environmental performance. By setting clear targets and developing solutions to operate sustainably EMAS registered organisations take the lead for a responsible and green economy.

Visit the official website of World Wetlands Day 2023




Publication date
8 February 2023
Directorate-General for Environment