Since time immemorial, the Convention on Wetlands has benefited enormously by its close association with four international organizations which were instrumental even in the drafting of the Convention text in the 1960s and formation of the first secretariat in 1988. These "International Organization Partners", or IOPs, enrich the implementation of the Convention both through their headquarters expertise and through their far-flung offices, centers, and projects on the ground throughout the world, and they presently serve as permanent observers on the Standing Committee and full members of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP). In 1999, COP7 formalized that IOP status, confirmed the four traditional members (BirdLife International, IUCN-The World Conservation Union, Wetlands International, and WWF International), and drew up terms of reference for future applications for that status. Last week, in Resolution IX.16, COP9 reconfirmed the IOP status of those four and, in a major innovation, added the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) to that exclusive list.
IWMI is an autonomous, non-profit, international research and development institute (international non-governmental organization) and is one of 15 international agricultural research centers and Future Harvest Centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). Through its 359 staff members, IWMI implements an ongoing programme of activities concerning water and land resources management, agriculture, livelihoods and the environment - it is headquartered in Sri Lanka but currently has offices in Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Lao PDR, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam as well. IWMI representatives have been working closely with the Ramsar STRP for some time and in the past triennium served as the Co-Lead of STRP Working Group 3 on Water Resources Management, as well as participating in the MedWet Committee and in the Ramsar/Wetlands International "Tsunami Working Group". We welcome IWMI as the Ramsar Convention's fifth International Organization Partner.
[Further information about IWMI is available from http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/