Linking wetland management and poverty reduction

Linking wetland management and poverty reduction

1 December 2008

Lessons and Good Practices Study for linking wetland management & poverty reduction

While recognizing the arguments for linking conservation with poverty reduction, literature reviewing integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs) emphasize the complexities involved in moving from theory to practice. Some question whether meaningful conservation and poverty reduction results can be achieved simultaneously, while others suggest results can improve with a better understanding of strategies and processes. This Lessons and Good Practices (Ls&GPs) study conducted by IWMI for Wetlands International (WI) (with funding from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs) explores these views using several wetland-based ICDPs as case-studies. The synthesis of Ls&GPs from the case-studies covers a range of themes including: the multiple values of understanding context; change processes; participatory resource management; sustainable livelihoods strategies; conservation-poverty reduction dynamics; building institutions; dealing with externalities; sustainability; project management techniques; and time implications for project design and donor perceptions.

This study forms part of WI’s Wetlands and Poverty Reduction Project (WPRP) that seeks to promote greater recognition amongst policy makers and conservation and development practitioners of the need for greater integration between conservation and development approaches to meet sustainable development objectives, particularly in the context of wetland management. As such it seeks to highlight mutually supportive links between human well-being and wetlands management with respect to poverty reduction of local communities and wetlands conservation, and the value of adopting an integrated approach to natural resource based interventions.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (Ecosystems & Human Well-being: Wetlands & Water) emphasizes that achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals such as the eradication of poverty partly depends on maintaining or enhancing wetland ecosystem services, and that to do so, a cross-sectoral focus is urgently needed that emphasizes securing wetland ecosystems and their services in the context of sustainable development and improving human well-being. These messages are incorporated in Ramsar Resolution IX.14 on Wetlands and Poverty Reduction and further strengthened by Resolution X.28 on wetlands and poverty eradication adopted at Ramsar COP10 (November 2008) whereby sound wetland management is now expected to not only cover conserving ecological integrity but also pay specific attention to the local people’s well-being.

This study was desk-based due to funding and time constraints and gathered empirical evidence mainly through case studies of wetland projects exhibiting both conservation and poverty reduction components, through dialogue with project implementors and recourse to independent project evaluations where these were available.

The IWMI authors are currently working with WI and others to synthesize further lessons and good practices from four Demonstration Projects also funded under WI’s Wetlands and Poverty Reduction Project.

For a hard copy, please email Dr. Sonali Senaratna Sellamuttu (s.senaratnasellamuttu@cgiar.or) or Mr. Sanjiv de Silva (

-- Sanjiv de Silva

Good practices and lessons learned in integrating ecosystem conservation and poverty reduction objectives in wetlands (PDF, 1.2MB)

Good practices and lessons learned in integrating ecosystem conservation and poverty reduction objectives in wetlands: a policy brief (PDF, 350KB)