Story | 17 Mar, 2021

World Wetlands Day celebrations put the spotlight on the benefits of wetland ecosystems in the Indo-Burma Region

Throughout the month of February, member-countries of the Indo-Burma Ramsar Regional Initiative (IBRRI) celebrated World Wetlands Day, raising awareness on the important role that wetlands play in providing water for communities and wildlife in the region.

Due to the pandemic, some of the celebrations were conducted virtually. Events in Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Thailand brought together over 3,500 people, including students, community members, government representatives, and NGOs to participate in a range of activities to increase the understanding of the benefits provided by these vital ecosystems.


The Department of Freshwater Wetlands Conservation hosted Cambodia’s World Wetlands Day celebration at Stung Treng Ramsar Site, a unique wetland in the middle stretches of the Mekong River, which hosts diverse marine species, including the Irrawaddy dolphins and migratory fish populations.

During his opening remarks, H.E Srun Darith, Secretary of State, Ministry of Environment emphasised that “wetlands support essential ecosystem services, including the provision of water and food, temperature regulation, and spiritual and recreational benefits, among others. World Wetlands Day events provide an occasion to remind us of these services so that we can ensure their longevity.”

350 students, community members, rangers, and local and national government officials planted over 1,500 native trees on the site, which will help to stabilise the soil and improve water absorption. In the evening, the hosts organized a camping activity in Stung Treng Ramsar Site to promote ecotourism activities at the site. The event was posted on the official social media page of the Cambodia Ministry of Environment and broadcasted on several local TV channels, ensuring that the awareness-raising activities reached a larger audience.


The Lao PDR Department of Environment hosted their World Wetlands Day celebration on 11 February, at Ban Huayxay Secondary School, in Champhone District, Savannakhet Province. Over 470 participants, including students, local and national government representatives joined the event. Activities such as short skits and songs about the importance of wetlands and the water they provide, drawing competitions for students, and an interactive quiz game with prizes to promote wetlands knowledge. The event was supported by the FAO CAWA project and the Indo-Burma Ramsar Regional Initiative.


On 24 February 2021, the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP) in collaboration with the Department of Water Resources organised a World Wetland Day virtual seminar on “Wetlands and Water: River and Urban Community Livelihoods.” Guest speakers from Kasetsart University, the Department of Water Resources, and the Porous City Network discussed the conservation of water and wetlands, the relationship between wetlands and communities, and urban wetlands. Approximately 2,500 attendees joined the online session.

“For effective wetlands management, it is essential to engage representatives from all sectors, including government, the private sector, and wetland communities. Decision-makers must also acknowledge and promote the wise use of wetlands,” said Dr. Raweewan Bhuridej, Secretary-General, ONEP.

Dr. Kotchakorn Voraakhom, a landscape architect, emphasised that many areas in Bangkok have been overdeveloped and have no drainage channels. This is exacerbated by the fact that some areas of Bangkok are below sea level. To adapt to annual flooding events, urban areas must develop manmade wetlands with ecosystem-based designs throughout the city. The discussion also touched upon the importance of peat swamp forests in Thailand, the relationship of communities and wetlands, and how younger generations can contribute to wetlands conservation.

About IBRRI 

The Indo-Burma Ramsar Regional Initiative (IBRRI) was jointly developed by the Ramsar National Focal Points of the five countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Viet Nam), and IUCN’s Asia Regional Office, based on specific needs identified in these countries. It was endorsed by the 52nd meeting of the Ramsar Convention Standing Committee in June 2016. The IBRRI aims to support the coordinated implementation of the objectives of the Strategic Plan of the Ramsar Convention. IUCN acts as the Secretariat for the Initiative under the leadership of the Steering Committee, which includes representatives from the five governments and the Ramsar Convention Secretariat as an observer.