Uganda signs agreement to host global Wetlands Conference, a first for Africa


At a ceremony on 30 October 2003, Uganda signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands to host the 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP9) in Kampala in late 2005. The offer, which was first made at Ramsar COP8 in November 2002 and gratefully accepted by the Contracting Parties, is a highly significant commitment for Uganda, and is the first time that the global Convention on Wetlands has come to Africa for its triennial meeting of its Parties, now numbering 138 countries. The new MOU formalizes the commitments on both sides and lays out the steps to be taken between now and COP9 some two years hence.

The ceremony was held during a reception hosted by Wetlands International and the Royal Netherlands Embassy, Washington D.C., USA. Wetlands International's President, Max Finlayson, invited the Ramsar Convention's Secretary General, Peter Bridgewater, and the Uganda National Coordinator for COP9, Paul Mafabi, to sign the Memorandum.

As the first country in Africa to develop a national wetland policy, and with over 14 years' practical experience of learning from community-based wetland management, Uganda has taken a leading role in showing how wise use and conservation of wetlands is achievable in the demanding context of Africa. Uganda has demonstrated how sustainable support for people's livelihoods can go hand in hand with conservation of the biodiversity of these supremely rich areas.

The Ramsar Convention's mission is "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". Uganda joined the Convention in 1988, and has since then, in partnership with several Contracting Parties and international organizations, developed effective and transferable strategies and tools to enable other African countries to benefit from Uganda's experience.

Secretary General Peter Bridgewater addressing the gathering, with Max Finlayson (left) and Paul Mafabi (right)

Paul Mafabi, Uganda, and Peter Bridgewater, Ramsar, signing the COP9 MOU

Congratulations: Max Finlayson, Paul Mafabi, Peter Bridgewater

Photos by Chris Gordon


The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, with 138 Contracting Parties, and 1316 wetland sites, totaling 111 million hectares, designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, is the first of the global environmental conventions and was signed in Ramsar, Iran, in February 1971.

Contact for more information: Ramsar Bureau: +41 22 999 0170 (

The Convention is supported by four International Organization Partners, all of which were represented at the signing of the new MOU - they are BirdLife International, IUCN-The World Conservation Union, Wetlands International, and the World Wide Fund for Nature.

Wetlands International is a global non-profit NGO whose mission is to sustain and restore wetlands, their resources and biodiversity for future generations through research, information exchange and conservation activities, worldwide.

Contact for more information:
Wetlands International (Netherlands HQ): +31 317 478854 (
Wetlands International (Washington D.C.) +1 703-358-1953

Relevant documents and sources:

Ministry of Natural Resources, Republic of Uganda, 1995. National Policy for the Conservation and Management of Wetland Resources.

Uganda Wetland Jewels:

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Strategic Plan:

[adapted from a press release by Wetlands International,]

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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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