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Photo by Madeline Dahm / IWMI

Discover what urban wetlands are worth

Compelling discussion, commentary, stories on agriculture within thriving ecosystems.

What’s a wetland worth? To the common eye, wetlands may be seen only as potential value, just unused flooded areas in or around a city. Swamps, marshes, ponds – many people just envision them as sites for future construction or roadways. 

But these wetlands perform vital services for people and the environment. They’ve been dubbed “the earth’s kidneys” because of their role in purifying air and water. They also regulate humidity and water flow, and mitigate floods and droughts – all vital services for farmers and other residents. They also serve as nurseries and sanctuaries for wildlife and food sources. And they provide much needed green space for the health and enjoyment of residents and tourists.

Eighteen sites around the world were just awarded Wetland City Accreditation by the Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental treaty that promotes the conservation and wise use of wetlands. Colombo, Sri Lanka, is among this select group. The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and WLE are helping understand and promote the true worth of the city’s unique wetland ecosystem. And we are helping cities around the world understand how to manage and preserve wetlands through policy tools, such as creating an inventory of wetlands, acknowledging the value of its ecosystem services in policy, and including communities in wetlands planning.

Wetlands bolster food security, mitigate flooding, incentivize green investment and make the city more livable for all. This is the compelling message of IWMI’s new video on the Colombo Wetlands Complex.