Memorandum of Cooperation between Ramsar and Wetlands International


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Memorandum of Cooperation


The Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)


Wetlands International


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. This obligation recognizes the importance of wetlands for the maintenance of healthy and productive inland freshwater and coastal systems. In the context of water and wetlands, the Convention on Wetlands thus addresses issues which guide its Contracting Parties on ways to achieve sustainable development.

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.

Wetlands International works globally, regionally and nationally to achieve the conservation and wise use of wetlands, to benefit biodiversity and human well-being. We are a science-based organisation, that develops tools and information to assist the development and implementation of relevant policies, Conventions and Treaties by Governments, that are required to achieve wetlands conservation. Wetlands International is a source of "best-informed" opinion on key issues affecting wetlands and priority actions for their conservation and wise use, drawing on scientific analyses and our own experience in global and national conservation programmes. In doing this work, we are responsive to the needs expressed by Governments, industry sectors, local communities and other stakeholders. Addressing the major global wetland conservation needs, Wetlands International acts as a catalyst for inter-sectoral cooperation, partnership and network development. Through multi-sectoral field programmes, we build capacity in local NGO's and Government and demonstrate innovative solutions to wetland management problems.

With regard to wetlands and water resources management, Wetlands International aims to contribute to the achievement of the following global goals* in 2005-2014:

1. Stakeholders and decision-takers are well informed about the status and trends of wetlands, their biodiversity and priorities for action;
2. The functions and values of wetlands are recognised and integrated in sectoral development and policies;
3. Conservation and sustainable use of wetlands is achieved through integrated water resource management, coastal zone management and poverty alleviation strategies;
4. The conservation status of wetlands species, habitats and the management of wetland ecological networks is improved through targeted transboundary policies and action plans.

* subject to adoption by BoM, Nov 04

The Convention on Wetlands and Wetlands International 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 Wetlands International share similar conservation goals and the positive cooperation between the two institutions to date has been expressed through the recognition of Wetlands International as a Ramsar International Organisation Partner (confirmed through COP7 Resolution VII.3 on "Partnerships with international organisations"). 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 since the joint implementation of the Ramsar Convention Strategic Plan currently in force also contributes to the programmes of other major environmental agreements.

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

Article 1. Mechanisms for Programme Cooperation

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

B - The Secretariats of the Convention on Wetlands and Wetlands International will inform their focal points at regional and national levels of their cooperative activities. For general matters, the focal points for the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and Wetlands International are respectively the Secretary General and the Chief Executive Officer, or their assigned delegates.

C - The focal points, or their assigned delegates, may meet from time to time 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 and will be reviewed annually or at the request of either party.

B - Wetlands International and the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands will communicate agreement on common areas with their respective networks, and Wetlands International will endeavour to mobilise the expertise available on wetlands and water resources within its organisation in support of these activities.

C - The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and Wetlands International 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 (usually annually) and may be terminated by either party subject to six months notice in writing.

Peter Bridgewater
Secretary General
Convention on Wetlands
Jane Madgwick
Chief Executive Officer
Wetlands International
Done at: Bangkok
Date: 20 November 2004


Wetlands International's support to the
Ramsar Strategic Plan 2003-2008

In accordance with its Strategy 2002-2005 and 2005-2014, Wetlands International will target its support to the following general objectives of the Plan:

1. The wise use of wetlands
2. Wetlands of International Importance
3. International Cooperation
4. Implementation capacity

Wetlands International in accordance with its MoU with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), also supports actions agreed between the CBD and the Ramsar Convention under the 3rd Joint Work Plan (JWP), and will target activities under the following headings of the JWP:

A. Joint Initiatives

Activity 1 - The Ramsar/CBD River Basin Initiative (RBI)

B. Thematic Areas

Activity 2 - Inland water ecosystems
Activity 3 - Marine and coastal ecosystems
Activity 5 - Agricultural lands
Activity 7 - Mountain ecosystems
Activity 8 - Forest ecosystems

C. Cross-cutting issues

Activity 9 - Monitoring and indicators
Activity 11 - Inventory and assessment
Activity 14 - Ecosystem approach
Activity 15 - Protected areas
Activity 16 - Sustainable use of biological diversity
Activity 18 - Incentive measures
Activity 19 - Traditional knowledge
Activity 20 - Communication, education and public awareness
Activity 24 - Ramsar's International Organization Partners

Wetlands International will, as described below, support specific activities under the following Operational Objectives of the Strategic Plan:

Operational Objective 1. Inventory and assessment
Wetlands International will:

  • Make available a Web-based wetland inventory meta-database and encourage the inclusion of a metadata record for all national (including provincial) wetland inventories.
  • Undertake an update of the Global Review of Wetland Resources and Priorities for Wetland Inventory (GRoWI) to include updated information on the distribution and size of the wetland resource and progress in national (including provincial) wetland inventory since COP7 (Resolution VII.20), and report on this to COP9.
  • Promote and encourage the use of standard wetland inventory methodologies, including the Asian Wetland Inventory, guided by the Ramsar Framework for Wetland Inventory (Resolution VIII.6).
  • Through the ESA supported GlobWetland Project, assist wetland managers to better monitor and assess the condition of Ramsar Sites and other wetlands through satellite remote sensing.
  • Under the terms of an Agreement between Wetlands International and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, establish an internet database for image mosaics and thematic information for dissemination to the Parties of the Convention, covering disturbance monitoring, inundation mapping and support to global wetland inventory.

Operational Objective 2. Policies and legislation, including impact assessment and valuation

Wetlands International will:

  • Promote understanding and recognition of the socio-economic values of critical wetland habitats (such as peatlands).
  • Work to include functions and values of wetlands, including their importance for environment and food security, in poverty reduction and development policies.
  • Through its support to individual countries and at their invitation, continue to contribute to the development of wetland policies, plans and strategies, and will aim to promote interdisciplinary collaboration between relevant sectoral ministries and institutions.
  • Through publication of English, Spanish and French editions of The Socio-Economics of Wetlands, continue to disseminate regionally appropriate case studies that highlight the economic, social and environmental benefits and functions of wetlands.

Operational Objective 3. Integration of wetland wise use into sustainable development

Wetlands International will:

  • Prepare, based upon the available information contained in the Ramsar Sites Database, an analysis and promotional summary of the values and functions of Ramsar sites.
  • Develop partnerships between development agencies and conservation organizations to work together to achieve sustainable use of wetlands and socially equitable development.
  • Conduct community based integrated peatland management and development planning projects in key biodiversity peatswamp areas in DAC1 NIS countries and North Asia (China/Mongolia).
  • Continue to foster the Implementation of the Guidelines for global action on peatlands as adopted by Resolution VIII.17, and through development of Southern and eastern African Strategies for Wise Use of Peatlands, and support to two key demonstration projects (one in each region) integrating peatland conservation and poverty reduction.

Operational Objective 4. Restoration and rehabilitation

Wetlands International will:

  • Enhance the conservation, restoration and wise use of wetlands through targeted actions in key river basins and coastal zones.
  • Make available wetland restoration expertise upon request through its Wetland Restoration Specialist Group and Associate Experts Register.
  • Continue to promote peatland conservation to address climate change and biodiversity loss, and to demonstrate its leadership in peatswamp forest rehabilitation through partnerships in South East Asia, and especially through its project work in Indonesia and China.

Operational Objective 6. Local communities, indigenous people, and cultural values

  • Through field projects and our association with specific local communities, Wetlands International will apply the guidance within Resolution VII.8 on Guidelines for establishing and strengthening local communities and indigenous people's participation in the management of wetlands and Resolution VIII.19 on Guiding principles for taking into account the cultural values of wetlands for the effective management of sites.

Operational Objective 8. Incentives

  • Wetlands International will support the implementation of Resolution VIII.34 on Agriculture, Wetlands and Water Resource Management, by contributing knowledge on positive agriculture-related management practices to the work of the STRP and to CBD.

Operational Objective 9. Communication, education, and public awareness

  • Wetlands International's Communications, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) Specialist Group contributes to the work of the STRP and will continue to participate in the work of Wetland Link International, and is available to advise and assist Contracting Parties.

Operational Objective 10. Designation of Ramsar sites

  • Wetlands International will continue to update for each COP the 1% thresholds for waterbird populations for the application of Criterion 6 for Ramsar site designation, and seek to provide such population information for other wetland-dependent taxa; and apply this information for the designation of Ramsar sites.
  • As part of it work under contract to the Ramsar Secretariat, Wetlands International will maintain, and make available and easily accessible, the Directory of Wetlands of International Importance and its successors in electronic format.

Operational Objective 11. Management planning and monitoring of Ramsar sites

  • Wetlands International will provide advice and guidance on preparation of management plans for sites within its field project programme in accordance with the New Guidelines for management planning for Ramsar sites and other wetlands (Resolution VIII.14).
  • Through its work on wetlands and waterbird indicators, Wetlands International will make available its advice on monitoring biodiversity status.

Operational Objective 12. Management of shared water resources, wetlands and wetland species

  • Wetlands International participates in the CBD/Ramsar joint River Basin Initiative, and its work will be guided by Resolution VI.23 on Ramsar and water, and Resolution VII.18 on Guidelines for integrating wetland conservation and wise use into river basin management, and Resolution VIII.1 on Guidelines for the allocation and management of water for maintaining the ecological functions of wetlands.
  • Wetlands International, with other IOPs, will lead the development of the Niger Basin Initiative into a best practice example on enhancing biodiversity conservation through integrated poverty relief and wetland management initiatives within the context of transboundary river basin management.

Operational Objective 15. Financing the conservation and wise use of wetlands

  • Wetlands International will implement a Small Grants Programme to (seed/co-) finance local multi-stakeholder wetland projects from not-for-profit consortia of conservation and poverty relief organisations in DAC1 countries in Asia, Africa, South America and Oceania.

Operational Objective 20. Training

Wetlands International will:

  • Work with RIZA, IAC, ITC and UNESCO-IHE (Netherlands), the Ramsar Secretariat and the Australian National Centre for Tropical Wetland Research and other partner organisations to ensure that regional training for wetland conservation is targeted to meet conservation needs in the focal regions of West Africa, Central & South America, and S. & S.E. Asia.
  • Seek to extend institutional understanding of wetland values and functions and links to sustainable development, for example through supporting the development of national wetland policies and the work of national wetland committees.

Photos of the signing ceremony

Previous memorandum of cooperation (1997), now superseded

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