Memorandum of Cooperation between Ramsar and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)


Memorandum of Cooperation


The Convention on Wetlands
(Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

and the

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)


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 will be through joint actions within the framework of the Strategic Plan, detailed in the attached annex.

WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by:

  • conserving the world's biological diversity,
  • ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable,
  • promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.

With regard to wetlands and water resources management, WWF works in focal ecoregions and with governments and industry on conservation of six global priorities: freshwater, marine and forest biomes, species, climate and reduction of toxic pollutants. Its Global Freshwater Programme has targets for integrated river basin management, sustainable water use, and designation and management of freshwater protected areas. Its Global Marine Programme has targets for sustainable fisheries management and the designation and management of marine protected areas.

The Convention on Wetlands and WWF 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 WWF share similar conservation goals and the positive cooperation between the two institutions to date has been expressed through the recognition of WWF as a Ramsar International Organisation Partner (confirmed through COP7 Resolution VII.3 on "Partnerships with international organisations"). Turning to the future, specific mechanisms for enhancing synergies and partnerships to achieve common goals should be established, whilst avoiding duplication of effort The joint implementation of the Ramsar Convention Strategic Plan currently in force, which also contributes to the programmes of other major environmental agreements, should also be taken into account.

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

Article 1. Mechanisms for Programme Cooperation

A - The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and WWF 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 WWF 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 WWF are respectively the Secretary General and the Director General, 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 - WWF and the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands will communicate agreement on common areas with their respective networks, and WWF 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 WWF will provide each other with details of their annual work programmes to facilitate 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 will 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 (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
Dr Claude Martin
Director General
WWF International
Date: 20 November 2004



Joint activities in the framework of the operational objectives of the strategic plan.

General objective 1. The wise use of wetlands

1. WWF and the Ramsar Secretariat will work together to promote the Convention as an effective mechanism for the sustainable development and conservation of freshwater and marine wetlands, in particular in connection with major international events.

2. WWF will contribute to the work of the Convention by providing case studies on poverty reduction and wetlands conservation by November 2005.

3. WWF will contribute to the work of the Convention with its research on best practice management of marine protected areas, including of Ramsar sites, especially through the linking of Ramsar guidelines to marine management effectiveness protocols, and the lead WWF contact for this work will be the Director - Global Marine Programme.

4. WWF will assist the STRP and Ramsar Secretariat prepare a guide for practioners to apply the Convention's Ramsar site management guidelines, and will explore the feasibility of a management effectiveness tracking tool.

5. On request from the Ramsar Secretariat, WWF will make available within its means the expertise from its Global Climate and Toxics Programmes to assist implementation of Convention work on mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, and initiatives to address threats from the most hazardous industrial chemicals and pesticides, especially persistent organic pollutants and endocrine disrupting chemicals.

6. WWF will contribute to the Convention's work related to dams and other water management infrastructure.

General objective 2. Wetlands of International Importance

1. WWF will work to facilitate listing under the Convention high conservation value freshwater wetlands under its Global Freshwater Programme, and the lead WWF contact for this work will be the Protected Areas Manager - Global Freshwater Programme.

2. Wherever possible WWF will seek the designation of under represented wetland types as Ramsar sites, such as high altitude sites, karst wetlands and peatlands, and sites that facilitate and demonstrate international cooperation.

3. WWF will assist Contracting Parties to implement their commitments at Ramsar COP7 and COP8 by November 2005, notably for the designation or extension of Ramsar sites, and to restore the ecological character of Montreux Record listed Ramsar sites.

4. WWF will work to facilitate wise use and sustainable management of wetlands listed under the Convention and promote management models under its Global Freshwater Programme, and the lead WWF contact for this work will be the Protected Areas Manager - Global Freshwater Programme.

5. WWF will contribute to Convention consideration of listing and conserving mountain wetlands, including the implementation of model projects with Contracting Parties and the Ramsar Secretariat.

6. Each financial year WWF will consider funding a number of projects submitted to Ramsar's Small Grants Fund for the Conservation and Wise Use of Wetlands.

7. WWF will work to facilitate the identification and listing under the Convention of a representative range of marine protected areas under its Global Marine Programme (especially coral, seagrass and mangrove communities), and the lead WWF contact for this work will be the Director - Global Marine Programme.

8. The Ramsar Secretariat and WWF communications staff will seek tripartite agreement with relevant Contracting Parties on the timing and content of activities promoting the designation of particular Ramsar sites resulting from joint work.

General objective 3. International cooperation

1. WWF MedPO will work with MedWet to improve the management of existing Ramsar sites and on the listing of additional Ramsar sites in the Mediterranean basin.

2. WWF will promote the establishment of appropriate targets for inland waters, mountains, protected areas, and marine and coastal habitats under the Convention on Biological Diversity, and work to assist contacting parties achieve these targets, and those of the CBD's Plan of Implementation for Protected Areas, through the Ramsar Convention.

General objective 4. Implementation capacity

1. The Ramsar Secretariat Regional Advisors and the designated WWF protected area contacts will: a) exchange information on opportunities to support the establishment and management of Ramsar sites, and b) advise external partners (government and non-government) of opportunities to benefit from the implementation of the Ramsar Convention.

2. WWF will contribute to the joint Ramsar/CBD River Basin Initiative.

3. WWF will contribute to the Convention's discussions for CoP9 on maximising the efficiency and effectiveness of the Convention.

4. WWF International and the Ramsar Convention are aiming to access each others' digital photographic images in accordance with a framework agreement to be negotiated.

General objective 5. Membership

1. At the request of the Ramsar Secretariat on a case by case basis, WWF will assist the accession of particular states to the Convention.

Implementation of the Memorandum of Cooperation

1. No party to this Memorandum will make any commitments or take any positions on behalf of the other party without that organisation's written consent.

2. Written use of Ramsar's or WWF's name and logo by the other party must be approved in advance.

3. Nothing in this Memorandum will create or imply a financial obligation of either party to this Memorandum.

4. The primary contact point for communication with the Ramsar Secretariat on matters covered by this Memorandum on behalf of WWF is the Director, Living Waters Programme, or such other officer as may be notified to the Secretariat in writing by the Director General of WWF.

Photos of the signing ceremony

Previous memorandum of cooperation (2002), now superseded

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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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