National Ramsar Committees


There are a variety of mechanisms to assist Ramsar Contracting Parties implement the Convention at the national level. Among those are the National Ramsar Committees (NRCs) or National Wetlands Committees.

For example, in the framework of the Convention’s Strategic Plan, some NRCs have played a key role in promoting Wise Use (Goal 1) by, among others, assisting with the development and implementation of National Wetland Policies and management initiatives and helping to prepare National Reports for triennial meetings of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP).

Similarly, NRCs have been instrumental in encouraging the designation and maintenance of Wetlands of International Importance, also called Ramsar Sites (Goal 2) as well as in fostering International Cooperation (Goal 3) by exchanging information with Ramsar Site managers in neighbouring countries and helping to designate and manage Transboundary Ramsar Sites (TRS) or other transboundary wetlands.

A number of documents officially adopted by the Conference of the Contracting Parties, such Recommendation 5.7 [PDF], encourage their creation and many Parties have voluntarily established NRCs to help them deliver the goals of the Convention.

The graphs below give a regional overview of the number of Contracting Parties that have indicated in the COP10 National Reports (2008) as having, not having or partly having a NRC.

NRCs by Region, as of COP10, 2008

Because the government structures, needs, and capacities within each Party differ, NRCs vary considerably from country to country in composition, structure, scope, and functions. Thus, there is no single model or formula for creating the perfect NRC.

Information paper on National Ramsar/Wetlands Committees across the six Ramsar regions: Diversity and benefits

The Secretariat of the Convention regularly receives requests from Parties and other entities (e.g., NGOs) requesting advice on how to create or revive an existing NRC or equivalent body. While establishing uniform guidelines for the creation of a NRC would not be practical, given the social, political, and economic differences within countries, Parties would benefit considerably from learning about the experiences and practices of existing NRCs.

In response, the Ramsar Secretariat has prepared an information paper that illustrates some of the diverse approaches Parties have utilized to create and operate NRCs.

The Paper examines the experiences of six NRCs from Africa, Asia, Europe, Neotropics, North America and Oceania, that, like many other NRCs around the world, have helped deliver the objectives of the Convention and effectively promote the wise use of wetlands; the paper reviews their different structures, composition, decision-making processes, as well as successes and obstacles in delivering the goals of the Convention.

Based on the case studies’ analysis, review of existing documents and the experience of the Secretariat’s regional teams in working with Ramsar Contracting Parties, the Paper also provides a set of common principles of best practices in the creation and operations of NRCs.

Case studies include:
Africa: Uganda’s National Wetlands Advisory Group (NWAG)
Asia: Thailand’s National Committee on Wetlands Management (NCWM)
Europe: Austria’s National Ramsar Committee
Neotropics: Colombia’s National Ramsar Committee
North America: United States’ National Ramsar Committee (USNRC)
Oceania: Fiji’s National Wetlands Steering Committee (NWSC)

» Read the Paper here (PDF)

The Paper’s Authors:
Marcela Bonells is a Biodiversity Fellow at Stetson University College of Law in Florida, USA. During her externship at the Ramsar Secretariat in summer 2011, Marcela worked closely with Monica Zavagli, Ramsar’ s Scientific & Technical Support Officer and other Ramsar staff on the preparation of this paper.

This paper was published in the Journal of International Wildlife Law & Policy (2011), © Taylor & Francis.

Learning from each other - NRC Template

Sharing experiences of existing National Ramsar/wetlands Committees is the best way to learn from each other!

National Ramsar Committee template form:
Are you a member of a National Ramsar Committee and would you like to share the experience and lessons learnt of that Committee with others around the world?  Please fill in the template, consult and agree with your other Committee members on the information that you are providing and send the electronic version of the template (.doc) to the Ramsar Secretariat (

For more information, please contact

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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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