The Kushiro Statement

5th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties
Kushiro, Japan
9-16 June 1993

The Kushiro Statement

Resolution 5.1, Annex 1

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands was the first modern global treaty on conservation and wise use of natural resources and habitats. Since its adoption in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, it has provided the framework for intergovernmental cooperation on wetlands.

Wetlands are important for the biological diversity they support - the characteristic flora and fauna found in the rich and varied habitats covered by Ramsar's definition of wetlands: "areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish, or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres". From the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Agenda 21 (Chapter 18.39) suggests that all States could set participation in Ramsar as a target. It will be natural for the Ramsar Convention to work closely with the Convention on Biological Diversity and to continue to play the leading role in conservation of wetland biodiversity.

Yet Ramsar has recognized from its earliest days that the importance of wetlands goes beyond the need for conservation of specific sites for their intrinsic value and diversity. The sustainability of wetlands is crucial to human life. Ramsar's "Guidelines for the Implementation of the Wise Use Concept" show the benefits and values of wetlands for "sediment and erosion control; flood control; maintenance of water quality and abatement of pollution; maintenance of surface and underground water supply; support for fisheries, grazing, and agriculture; outdoor recreation and education for human society; and contribution to climatic stability".

Despite the successes achieved by Ramsar since 1971 - notably in raising consciousness of the importance of wetlands - loss, destruction, degradation, and misuse of wetlands continue in many areas of the world. The Dublin Statement, made by the 1992 International Conference on Water and the Environment (which in Section 4.15 calls on Ramsar Contracting Parties to support its recommendations), states that the fulfilment of Ramsar's objectives "can only be brought about through political commitment and involvement from the highest levels of government to the smallest communities. Commitment will need to be backed by substantial and immediate investments, public awareness campaigns, legislative and institutional changes, technology development, and capacity building programmes".

In response to Agenda 21 and to the challenge of promoting conservation of biological diversity and the wise use of wetlands, and in the interests of the immediate application of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Ramsar Convention will in the coming triennium reinforce these fundamental principles in pursuit of global environmental solutions. In the next triennium the Contracting Parties will aim to meet their commitments under the Convention through the following actions:

1. Conservation and management of wetlands of international importance

  • establish coherent national networks of Ramsar sites;
  • monitor the status of these sites and adopt measures to maintain their ecological character;
  • establish and apply methodologies to manage these sites, incorporating consideration of their catchments; and
  • restore degraded wetlands and compensate for lost wetlands.

2. Formulation and implementation of planning so as to promote the conservation and wise use of wetlands

  • develop national and regional wetland policies, as provided in the Ramsar "Guidelines for the Implementation of the Wise Use Concept" adopted at Montreux;
  • manage wetlands in accordance with wise use principles;
  • take account of wetland functions and values in developing and applying other national policies.

3. Promotion of international cooperation through development assistance and management of shared wetland ecosystems, water resources, and species

  • promote cooperation with other global and regional conventions and organizations, inter alia by the active cooperation of the Bureau of the Ramsar Convention with the Interim Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, with a view to enabling this secretariat to fulfil its tasks;
  • review the impact of current development assistance on wetlands in order that it contributes to their conservation and wise use;
  • generate support from bilateral and multilateral funding agencies;
  • strengthen regional coordination on wetland issues of common concern; and
  • establish international networks of wetlands with significant ecological or hydrological links, which require coherent management, and develop joint management programmes for shared wetlands.

4. Increasing awareness of the Convention and promotion of its aims

  • promote understanding of wetland functions and values;
  • increase opportunities for the training of appropriate staff in disciplines essential for wetland conservation; and
  • prepare educational and information materials to publicize the Convention at regional, national and local levels.
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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
International Importance
2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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