Wetlands & Policy

There are different international policy positions with respect to wetlands. In many cases wetlands are seen as critical areas for conservation due their support of biodiversity, while in other cases they are recognised as important agro-development resources. Many governments are in the process of considering how they should respond to these differing viewpoints and develop policies to support appropriate management given that these areas are under increasing pressure for different uses.

In many countries, however, wetlands are not yet included in the Development agenda and are too often seen as areas that should be protected at all costs. This is despite the fact that these areas often support a range of ecosystem services such as food and water provision, hydrological regulation and soil formation, which make a direct and indirect contribution to peoples’ livelihoods. The challenge is for wetland policy debates to take a holistic, interdisciplinary view of wetlands which seeks their sustainable development through sustaining ecosystem services while meeting the development needs of current and future populations.

Wetland Action continues to work with wetland policy-makers at all levels around the world in order to promote participatory wetland planning that draws upon the needs and expertise of all wetland stakeholders – from local farmers to government and international NGOs – while also drawing upon scientific and local knowledge. Wetland Action has also pioneered research and field implementation activities that have embedded collaborative wetland management policy-making between traditional local institutions and formal government institutions.  Many of Wetland Action’s projects have also been cited as examples of best practice, the lessons of which have subsequently been incorporated into international guidelines and recommendations for wetland management (Ramsar and FAO-GAWI).