The government of Rajasthan and the Environment and Forest Department are joining forces to position Udaipur, commonly known as the ‘City of Lakes,’ on the global stage as India’s inaugural wetland city. Recent developments have seen Udaipur emerging as a prospective Ramsar Convention site of International Importance, a sought-after accolade for regions rich in wetlands worldwide.
The Ramsar Convention, formally titled the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat, serves as a global treaty with a mission to safeguard and sustainably utilize wetlands of international significance.
Per the Ramsar Convention’s standards, a wetland must meet specific criteria to attain the designation of international importance. These criteria encompass being a rare, representative, or unique example of a natural or near-natural wetland type within the appropriate biogeographic region, while also supporting vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered species or threatened ecological communities.
Udaipur, with its striking natural beauty and ecological significance, is poised to fulfill all the prerequisites set by the Ramsar Convention. Spanning an area of 37 square kilometers, the city is graced by five major lakes—Pichola, Fateh Sagar, Rang Sagar, Swaroop Sagar, and Doodh Talai. These magnificent bodies of water collectively define the ‘City of Lakes,’ contributing not only to its picturesque charm but also to its ecological vitality by supporting a diverse array of species and enriching regional biodiversity.
Udaipur’s pursuit of becoming a wetland city gains momentum from its inclusion in the National Lake Conservation Plan (NLCP), an initiative initiated by the central government of India. The NLCP concentrates on the restoration and preservation of significant lakes and wetlands nationwide, ensuring their ecological well-being and longevity. The management of Udaipur’s lakes and wetlands, predominantly overseen by the tourism and local self-government departments, is pivotal in this endeavor.
To propel Udaipur’s bid for the esteemed title of a wetland city, the state Environment and Forest Department is diligently crafting a formal nomination for the Ramsar Convention. Monali Sen, Joint Secretary of the Environment and Climate Change Ministry, has unveiled plans for a one-day workshop that will unite district officials and representatives from local bodies to finalize the nomination draft. This inter-departmental gathering aims to incorporate suggestions from all stakeholders, ensuring a comprehensive and robust submission.
Should Udaipur succeed in securing the designation of a wetland city under the Ramsar Convention, it will join an elite global group of cities that have achieved this prestigious recognition. This accolade is a rare distinction, with only a select few cities worldwide having received this honor. Notably, Udaipur faces stiff competition from Bhopal, which is also contending for the same recognition, highlighting India’s commitment to preserving its wetland ecosystems and promoting sustainable environmental practices.
The Ramsar Convention has previously recognized multiple cities around the world as wetland cities. In 2022, during the Convention’s proceedings, 25 cities were acknowledged for their dedication to conserving wetlands of international importance. Some of these cities include Sackville in Canada, Cape Town in South Africa, Ifrane in Morocco, and others from diverse nations. Presently, 42 wetland cities are distributed across 17 countries globally, with China leading the pack with 13 such cities.