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Nordic and Baltic Wetlands Conference Identifies Climate Change Impacts on Wetlands

Ramsar12 September 2013: The Nordic and Baltic Wetlands Conference was organized around the theme 'Baltic Wetlands in a time of climate change- mitigation, resilience and adaptation.' The event was held as part of the Greenland Chairmanship (2012-2014) of the NorBalWet, a regional initiative for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) that aims to contribute to more effective conservation and wise use of wetlands and enhanced international wetlands cooperation in the Nordic-Baltic region.

The Conference aimed to identify impacts on wetlands and their function in regulating climate change and opportunities for solutions. Funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the event was co-hosted by the Ministry of Housing, Nature and Environment, Government of Greenland, and the Danish Nature Agency.

The Conference took place from 3-5 September 2013, at Ilulissat, Greenland, and brought together 20 Ramsar National Focal Points and experts from the Arctic Council.

NorBalWet brings together Denmark, Estonia, the Faeroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Russian regions around the Baltic Sea, and Sweden.

Addressing the Conference, Mette Lynge, Greenland's Minister of Housing, Nature, Environment and Nordic Cooperation, warned of the possible impacts of climate change on wetlands and their services. She called on Ramsar to formulate proposals on how to manage these impacts, for consideration by the Arctic, Nordic and Baltic cooperation mechanisms.

Participants also heard reports by NorBalWet members on: progress with Ramsar implementation in their countries; on the successful conclusion of their project on wetland CEPA; and on the new project on the importance of peatlands for climate change mitigation.

Other topics addressed included: cooperation on Arctic wetlands and their ecosystem services, through NorBalWet; NorBalWet's priorities for the coming years; priorities for Arctic, Nordic and Baltic wetlands, facing particularly rapid Arctic climate change; testing the new section of the Ramsar Site Information Sheet (RIS) on ecosystem services; and the review of the importance of Nordic and Baltic peatlands, and peatland restoration for the mitigation of climate change effects.

NorBalWet countries further agreed on the need to update the 2004 Nordic Council report on wetlands through the compilation of essential reference information, and to produce communications and outreach materials on the role of Arctic, Nordic and Baltic wetlands and their ecosystem services. [NorBalWet Website] [Ramsar Press Release] [Conference Webpage]