Resolution VII.18: Guidelines for integrating wetland conservation and wise use into river basin management

COP7's logo"People and Wetlands: The Vital Link"
7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties
to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971),
San José, Costa Rica, 10-18 May 1999

1. RECALLING Operational Objective 2.2 of the Strategic Plan 1997-2002, which urges Contracting Parties "to integrate conservation and wise use of wetlands . . . into national, provincial and local planning and decision making on land use, groundwater management, catchment/river basin and coastal zone planning, and all other environmental management";

2. FURTHER RECALLING Resolution VI.23 on Ramsar and Water which calls on Contracting Parties, in promoting the integration of water resource management and wetland conservation, to undertake a range of actions including the establishment of hydrological monitoring networks on wetlands, studies of traditional water management systems and economic valuation methods, to involve National Ramsar Committees and local stakeholders in river basin management, to support multi-disciplinary training, and to work in partnership with water-related organizations;

3. AWARE that wetlands, because of their ecological and hydrological functions, are an intrinsic part of the overall water resource system and should be managed as a component of such, as well as being rich centres of biological diversity and related productivity; and contribute as such to the economic, ecological and social security of local people and other major groups;

4. WELCOMING the Memorandum of Cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the associated Joint Work Plan through which the role of the Ramsar Convention as the lead partner on actions directed at the conservation and wise use of wetlands, and particularly inland water ecosystems, is to be pursued (Resolution VII.4);

5. ALSO AWARE of the increasing demands being placed upon freshwater resources in many parts of the world, as presented to this Conference through the Technical Session I presentation entitled Defining Ramsar’s role in the response to the global water crisis;

6. NOTING the importance placed on freshwater resources in the United Nations Special Session of the General Assembly to Review and Appraise the Implementation of Agenda 21 (June 1997), and the subsequent Commission on Sustainable Development meeting in May 1998, which as part of its report relating to Strategic Approaches to Freshwater Management recommended support for implementation of the Ramsar Convention;

7. NOTING ALSO the current initiatives of the World Commission on Dams as well as those activities of the World Water Council, the Global Water Partnership, and other water sector-related organizations designed to promote integrated water resource management;

8. RECOGNIZING that through Technical Session I, this Conference has considered and discussed in detail the Guidelines for integrating wetland conservation and wise use into river basin management;

9. REALIZING that this Conference, through a number of related decisions, has adopted guidance for the Contracting Parties on wetland policy formulation (Resolution VII.6), reviewing laws and institutions (Resolution VII.7), involving local communities and indigenous people in wetland management (Resolution VII.8), promoting communication, education and public awareness related to wetlands and waterways (Resolution VII.9), designation of karst and other subterranean hydrological systems (Resolution VII.13), incentives (Resolution VII.15), impact assessment (Resolution VII.16), wetland restoration as part of national planning (Resolution VII.17) and international cooperation under the Ramsar Convention (Resolution VII.19), of all which are closely related to and serve to inform the more generic subject of integrating wetlands into river basin management; and

10. GRATEFUL to those who contributed their information and other experiences to assist the authors, the Global Environment Network, with the preparation of the annexed Guidelines and the associated case studies and lessons learned;


11. RECOMMENDS the Guidelines for integrating wetland conservation and wise use into river basin management as annexed to this Resolution and URGES all Contracting Parties to give priority to their application, adapting them as necessary to suit national situations;

12. CALLS UPON the Contracting Parties to reinforce and increase their efforts to implement Resolution VI.23 and Operational Objective 2.2 of the Strategic Plan 1997-2002 and to do so through implementing the annexed Guidelines;

13. FURTHER URGES Contracting Parties, when implementing the annexed Guidelines, to take account of, and apply through integrated approaches, the guidance on related issues identified above and as adopted by this Conference;

14. DIRECTS the Ramsar Bureau, as funds and human resources allow, to make these and the associated guidelines adopted by this Conference available to the secretariats, expert and technical bodies, relevant regional institutions, river basin authorities and focal points of all other relevant environment conventions as well as interested parties and organizations, and, in particular, to those bodies identified above with a recognized direct interest in water management;

15. FURTHER DIRECTS the Ramsar Bureau and Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), subject to the availability of budgetary resources, to follow and participate actively in the programme of the World Commission on Dams (WCD), providing input on themes of relevance to Contracting Parties, and to report back to Ramsar COP8 concerning the findings of WCD and their implications for the future;

16. ENCOURAGES in particular those Contracting Parties which are also signatories to the Convention on Biological Diversity to note and support the partnership approach being taken between the Conventions in the further development of tools in the areas of incentives (Resolution VII.15) and impact assessment (Resolution VII.16), which are key elements of the annexed Guidelines;

17. INVITES those Contracting Parties which share river basins to pursue, as appropriate, the application of the annexed Guidelines in a cooperative way with their neighbouring States in accordance with Article 5 of the Convention and the Guidelines for international cooperation under the Convention (Resolution VII.19);

18. COMMENDS these Guidelines for consideration by all multilateral and bilateral donors to assist and guide their planning, project assessments and decision-making in terms of integrated water resource management, taking into account the special circumstances and constraints of the concerned countries;

19. INSTRUCTS the STRP, as funds and human resources allow, to review the current state of knowledge in the area of allocation and management of water to maintain wetland ecosystem functions, and to report to Ramsar COP8 on the findings, and if possible to provide guidance for the Contracting Parties on this subject;

20. FURTHER ENCOURAGES Contracting Parties and other interested parties to develop pilot activities or projects to promote and implement the guidelines in their countries, and to report to Ramsar COP8 and other relevant fora (such as CBD) on the successes achieved and lessons learned from these activities.


Guidelines for integrating wetland conservation and wise use into river basin management

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