Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ramsar and Barcelona Conventions, 7 February 2006




Memorandum of Cooperation


The Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

and the

Coordinating Unit of the Mediterranean Action Plan of the Secretariat of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention)


Since its inception in 1971, the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) has provided the single most important intergovernmental forum on wetland conservation issues. According to the Convention's mission statement, the Contracting Parties agree to "the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local, regional and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world".

The Convention is founded on three pillars of:

  • promoting wise use of wetlands,
  • developing international cooperation, and
  • developing a network of Wetland sites of International Importance.


The conservation and wise management of wetlands through the designation of wetlands for the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, especially the obligation to maintain the ecological character of designated sites, deserves special recognition.

Within the general obligations set out by the treaty, Contracting Parties, meeting as the Conference of the Parties (COP) identify priorities for action through a Strategic Plan. Implementation of this Memorandum of Cooperation shall be through joint actions within the framework of the Strategic Plan, detailed in the attached Annex.

The Action Plan for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Sustainable Development of the Coastal Area of the Mediterranean (Mediterranean Action Plan-MAP II) represents the second phase of the original MAP dating back to 1975. The Barcelona Convention which constitutes the legal base of the MAP and the Protocol on the Special Protected areas and Biodversity, both adopted in 1996, provide a sound legal base for enhancing the cooperation of the CPs to protect and conserve the marine and coastal biodiversity and protected area and promote and achieve sustainable use of resources.

The main objectives of the MAP and the Barcelona Convention are among others the following:

a) to ensure sustainable management of natural marine and land resources through the integration of the environment in social, economic development and land use policies

b) to protect nature and enhance sites and landscapes or cultural value.

With regard to wetlands and water resources management, the main objective of the Barcelona Convention and the MAP is to enhance conservation and rationalisation of Mediterranean wetlands. Furthermore the CPs to the Barcelona Convention have adopted in 2003 the SAP BIO (Strategic Action programme for the Conservation of Marine and Coastal Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean region). In this context several priority actions have been identified with respect to the protection and conservation of endangered species, protected areas, SPAMIs including coastal wetlands.

The Convention on Wetlands and the Barcelona Convention recognize the fundamental role played by wetlands in regulating and providing water, in supporting maintenance of cultural and biological diversity, in ensuring high ecosystem productivity, and in providing services and benefits for people and the planet.

The Convention on Wetlands and Barcelona Convention share similar conservation goals and the positive co-operation between the two institutions to date has been expressed through a range of conjoint activities. Turning to the future, it would be ideal to establish specific mechanisms for enhancing synergies and partnerships to achieve common goals, whilst avoiding duplication of effort, especially through implementation of the Ramsar Convention Strategic Plan and the Barcelona Convention objectives.

Therefore, the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and the Barcelona Convention agree the following:

Article 1. Mechanisms for Programme Cooperation

A - The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and the Barcelona Convention will develop a collaborative programme for sustainable wetland and water resource conservation and management by increasing current consultation and cooperation between them.

B - The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and the Barcelona Convention will inform their focal points at regional and national levels of their co-operative activities. For general matters, the Secretariats of the Convention on Wetlands and the Barcelona Convention are respectively represented by the Secretary General and the Coordinator, or their assigned delegates.

C - The representatives of the two Conventions, or their assigned delegates, may meet from time to time as needs arise to assess the implementation of this Memorandum, exchange documents and review on-going activities.

Article 2. Joint Activities

A - Common areas for joint conservation activities, as identified in the Annex to this Memorandum of Cooperation, relate clearly to the Ramsar Strategic Plan currently in force, the SAP BIO and the relevant action plan on the protection of specific species elaborated under the MAP. The MoU will be reviewed annually or at the request of either party.

B - The Barcelona Convention and the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands will communicate agreement on common areas with their respective networks and partners. The two Conventions endeavour to mobilise the expertise available in support of their common activities.

C - The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and the Barcelona Convention will provide each other with details of their annual work programmes to ensure harmonisation of activities at global, regional and country levels.

D - The extent to which the collaborative programme and the joint conservation activities are implemented will be subject to the availability of resources.

Article 3. Obligation, Review and Termination

A - This Memorandum of Cooperation constitutes an expression of a shared objective and vision. However, each party's actions will be considered to be that party's sole and separate action, for all purposes, and neither party shall claim to be acting on behalf of, or as agent for the other party to this Memorandum of Cooperation.

B - The term for this Memorandum of Cooperation is six years. The agreement may be reviewed at the request of either party, while the attached Annex should be revised and updated at least every two years, and may be terminated by either party subject to six months notice in writing.

Peter Bridgewater
Secretary General
Convention on Wetlands
(Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
Paul Mifsud
Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean
(Barcelona Convention)
Done at: DubaiDate: 7 February 2006


Joint activities of the Convention on Wetlands and the Barcelona Convention under this Memorandum of Collaboration in the framework of the operational objectives of the strategic plan.

The two organisations agree to undertake collaborative or joint activities in the framework of the operational objectives of the Convention on Wetlands.

In addition the two organisations agree that their collaboration will aim at achieving manageable and deliverable results, with a clear value-added for the implementation of the two Conventions in the Mediterranean region. In this context, the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative of the Convention (MedWet) will constitute the main interlocutor of the Barcelona Convention for the implementation of this MoC.

Specific points of collaboration will be, indicatively but not exclusively the following:

1. For the implementation of the SAP-BIO project, the Convention on Wetlands and in particular the MedWet initiative will be the principal advisor and partner of the Barcelona Convention as regards the conservation, management, inventorying and all other aspects related to wetland habitats and their biodiversity; MedWet will participate in this partnership in its capacity as a collaboration network under the auspices of the Ramsar Convention, bringing together the efforts of the MedWet Coordination Unit, the expert wetland centres participating in the MedWet Team, and the various networks that operate under the flag of MedWet.

2. The two organisations will endeavour to develop a joint set of activities for the protection and management of transboundary sites in the Mediterranean, especially as regards coastal wetlands and estuaries, as well as Integrated Coastal Zone Management.

3. The Convention on Wetlands, through the MedWet initiative and its network of institutions will develop a close collaboration with both the Secretariat of the Barcelona Convention and the Regional Activity Centres (RACs) of UNEP/MAP under the guidance of the Secretariat. As regards the latter, these will specifically include:

==> The Regional Activity Centre for Specially Protected Areas (RAC/SPA), aiming to develop joint activities in relation to:

  • Special Protected Areas of Mediterranean Interest (SPAMIs) where those contain a wetland component;
  • Further harmonisation of the MedWet Inventory methodology with the habitat types of the Barcelona Convention;
  • Development of a wetland inventory first for Libya and later as appropriate for other Mediterranean countries;
  • Implementation of the Action Plan for the conservation of birds listed in Annex II of the SPA/BD Protocol in the Mediterranean, regarding coastal wetlands;

Collaboration will be achieved in particular through participation in scientific meetings, joining regional networks for the monitoring of species, collaborating in the development of guidelines for the management of coastal wetlands, and participating in awareness raising activities.

==> The Regional Activity Centre on Priority Action Programme (PAP/RAC), aiming to develop joint activities in relation to:

  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management, especially as regards the conservation of coastal wetlands;

==> The Blue Plan (Plan Bleu/RAC), aiming to develop joint activities as regards:

  • Management of water resources in the Mediterranean;
  • Socio-economic indicators;

==> The Regional Activity Centre on Information (Info/RAC), in relation to activities aimed at increasing public awareness and information on water and wetlands and in particular:

  • The Ramsar MedWet film award on Water and Wetlands, given annually at the International Film and Visual Arts Festival of Rhodes - Ecofilms;

4. The Ramsar Convention on wetlands and the Barcelona Convention Secretariat will explore possible synergies and opportunities for collaboration in their workplan concerning Communications Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) activities and MAP strategy on information and communication.

The Convention on Wetlands, through the collaboration of MedWet with the Barcelona Convention Secretariat, will plan and implement jointly a set of CEPA and MAP information strategies and activities including:

  • Launching joint events in Mediterranean countries and elsewhere, also using the opportunity of both the Barcelona Convention Secretariat and MedWet being hosted in the same country, in order to promote public awareness and understanding on the problems facing the Mediterranean and the activities undertaken by both organisations for addressing them;
  • Encouraging collaboration among the Ramsar Focal Points for CEPA matters appointed by Contracting parties and UNEP/MAP Focal points or relevant appointed partners in the Mediterranean basin;
  • Developing Environmental Education activities, including the dissemination of audiovisual material, and especially the material awarded the Ramsar/MedWet film prize at the Ecofilms Festival.
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