Delegates and observers filled the beautiful Rosetti Hall of Romania’s Palace of the Parliament for the opening ceremony of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
It was a very moving scene to watch Dr. Luc Hoffmann, accept Ramsar’s 40th Anniversary Honorary Award. Wetlands International nominated Dr. Hoffmann for the award in recognition of his role as a long-time pioneer of wetlands conservation and a founding father of Ramsar. Dr. Hoffmann was a founder of Wetlands International (and WWF) some 57 years ago and has remained an ally, friend and financial supporter throughout the history and evolution of Wetlands International. With his remarks he called for a strengthened commitment to ensure that wetlands remain a vital link between biodiversity and human well being.
The evening was made even more special for us as Dr. Tatsuichi Tsujii, president of Wetlands International Japan, and former Supervisory Council member of Wetlands International, received the Wetland Conservation Award in the category of Science. For 50 years, Prof. Tsujii has played a leading role in wetland conservation in Japan, notably in the restoration and management of the famous Kushiro-shitsugen Ramsar Site and World Heritage Site in Hokkaido, as well as in the designation of some 20 other Ramsar Sites in Japan.
The speech on behalf of the International Organisation Partners (including us) pointed to the growing investment in land and freshwater and the challenges this presents, but also the opportunities through the Ramsar Convention for healthy wetlands to be the lifeblood of sustainable development.
Let’s hope this sets the positive tone for the rest of the COP!