Regional initiatives in the framework of the Convention on Wetlands

Why and what for?

Based on the encouraging regional cooperation of the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet), endorsed through Recommendation VI.11 (COP6, 1996), COP8 (2002) and the approved guidance for the development of Regional Initiatives (Resolution VIII.30), whereby groups of Contracting Parties with a common geographical focus and in some cases with a common thematic goal could apply for endorsement as “Regional Initiatives operating within the framework of the Ramsar Convention”. Regional Initiatives under the Ramsar Convention are intended as operational means to provide effective support for an improved implementation of the objectives of the Convention and its Strategic Plan in specific geographical regions, through international cooperation on wetland-related issues of common concern, as outlined in the Operational Guidelines adopted by COP10 (Resolution X.6, 2008) and updated for 2013-2015 by the Ramsar Standing Committee in April 2013.

Each Initiative should involve from the start the participation of the Administrative Authorities responsible for the implementation of the Convention in their countries, and also of all other relevant stakeholders with an interest in and a responsibility for wetland issues.

How is a Regional Initiative endorsed?

Regional Initiatives are endorsed by the Conference of the Contracting Parties, the policy-making organ of the Ramsar Convention, or by the Standing Committee in between meetings of the COP. There are two types of Regional initiatives:

  • Regional (and subregional) networks for capacity-building and cooperation
  • Regional and subregional centres for training and capacity building

Regional Initiatives should provide an enabling environment for the involvement of all stakeholders at all levels, including the ministries responsible for the environment and water issues, intergovernmental bodies, Ramsar International Organization Partners (IOPs), other NGOs, academia, local communities, and economic actors.

They should also work to raise the visibility of the Ramsar Convention and the general awareness of Ramsar objectives. Specific activities in the fields of communication, education and participatory processes with relevant stakeholders should be included in their work plans. The outcomes of such activities should be communicated to the Secretariat for use by the Ramsar CEPA Oversight Panel.

Role of the Ramsar Secretariat

The Ramsar Secretariat has no capacity to develop, coordinate or run Regional Initiatives but it assists them and maintains regular links to make sure that global Ramsar guidelines are applied throughout the different regions, and that their strategic and operational targets are fully aligned with the Convention’s Strategic Plan.

All of the Regional Initiatives are independently governed and are not authorized to speak or act on the Convention’s behalf – rather, they operate along the lines of Ramsar principles, on the basis of strict reporting requirements and close contacts with the Secretariat.

Financial and other support

There are presently about twenty approved or nearly-approved Regional Initiatives, some of which are receiving financial assistance from the Ramsar core budget for start-up periods of up to three years. (See reporting form. See Annex 1).

» Click here for the list of regional initiatives in Europe
» Click here for the list of regional initiatives in the Americas
» Click here for the list of regional initiatives in Asia
» List of regional initiatives in Africa (n/a)

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Number of » Contracting Parties: 168 Sites designated for the
» List of Wetlands of
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2,186 Total surface area of designated sites (hectares): 208,674,247

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