What are the "IOPs"?


The Convention works especially closely with four global non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which have been associated with the treaty since its beginnings and which, in Resolution VII.3 (1999), were confirmed in the formal status of International Organization Partners (IOPs) of the Convention. In Resolution IX.16 (2005), the Parties judged that IWMI meets the qualifications for Ramsar IOP status that were outlined in 1999 and endorsed the addition of that organization as the fifth official partner of the Convention. The five IOPs are:

  • BirdLife International (formerly ICBP)
  • IUCN – The International Union for the Conservation of Nature
  • IWMI – The International Water Management Institute
  • Wetlands International (formerly IWRB, the Asian Wetlands Bureau, and Wetlands for the Americas)
  • WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) International

The IOPs provide invaluable support for the work of the Convention at global, regional, national, and local levels, chiefly by providing expert technical advice, field level implementation assistance, and financial support, both from their headquarters units and from their national and regional offices and affiliates and from their expert networks. In addition, they themselves embody the philosophy of the Ramsar Convention and its wise use concept and support the use of the Ramsar guidelines in their own work around the world. The IOPs also participate regularly as observers in all meetings of the Conference of the Parties and the Standing Committee, and as full members of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel. Read more about the IOPs here.

Other non-governmental organizations and related bodies

In many countries, there is also an "NGO constituency" around the Ramsar Convention that works with the government and is active in promoting and implementing the goals of the treaty. The Ramsar Secretariat tries to maintain as much contact as possible with as many local, national, and international NGOs (in addition to the five partners listed above) as are in sympathy with Ramsar principles and whose work intersects with the Convention's objectives.

In addition, the Ramsar Secretariat benefits from formal cooperative agreements of various kinds with

  • Ducks Unlimited,
  • Eurosite,
  • the Global Nature Fund
  • the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA),
  • LakeNet,
  • the Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS),
  • The Nature Conservancy,
  • Wetland Link of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, and
  • the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA)

Moreover, several additional organizations have been officially invited to participate as observers in the work of the Convention's Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), including

  • the Global Water Partnership,
  • the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI),
  • the International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG),
  • the International Peat Society (IPS),
  • World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC),
  • the World Resources Institute (WRI), and
  • the World Water Council.

A considerable number of national and international NGOs make a point of participating in the meetings of the Ramsar Conference of the Parties, which are perceived as good opportunities for networking and influencing government policy and action. The 8th meeting of the COP (2002) in Spain was attended by 27 international NGOs and 109 national non-governmental organizations working directly or indirectly in the field of wetland conservation and sustainable use; at COP9 in Uganda (2005), 26 international NGOs and 71 national NGOs were present as observers; at COP10 in the Republic of Korea (2008), there were 25 international NGOs and about 130 national NGOs.

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
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2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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