Ramsar’s 15 regional initiatives support cooperation and capacity-building on wetland-related issues in specific regions or sub-regions.
Groups of Contracting Parties in a region or sub-region, which may also share a common thematic goal, can apply for endorsement as “regional initiatives” under the Convention.
The Administrative Authorities responsible for implementing the Convention in their countries drive the development and activities of regional initiatives. Initiatives give them – and often their ministers – a platform for collaborating with technical experts and representatives of intergovernmental bodies, Ramsar International Organization Partners, NGOs, local communities and private companies.
There are two types of regional initiatives: Ramsar Regional Centres for training and capacity building, and networks for regional cooperation.
The four Ramsar Regional Centres promote scientific and technical cooperation and exchange of knowledge in their region. They have shown that the professional training and capacity building they provide can fulfil a significant role in increasing Ramsar implementation in countries covered by their activities. Established Centres currently cover the Western Hemisphere, West and Central Asia, Eastern Africa and Eastern Asia.
Regional initiatives are endorsed by the Conference of Contracting Parties and by the Standing Committee in between meetings of the COP. To be formally recognized, they must conform to the Operational Guidelines 2013-2015 for Regional Initiatives in the framework of the Convention on Wetlands. They are independently governed and are not authorized to speak or act on the Convention’s behalf, but they work in close contact with the Secretariat. Some initiatives receive start-up financial assistance from the Secretariat’s core budget.