Asia Needs Urgent Action to Conserve its Wetlands

04 July 2008 | News story

The 4th Asian Wetland Symposium (AWS), held. in Hanoi from 22 to 25, June 2008, identified ten urgent and immediate actions to address current threats to wetlands and challenges in wetland management.  It calls on decision-makers to give priority these issues of conservation and sustainable management in Asia.

The 4th Asian Wetland Symposium (AWS), held. in Hanoi from 22 to 25, June 2008, identified ten urgent and immediate actions to address current threats to wetlands and challenges in wetland management.  It calls on decision-makers to give priority these issues of conservation and sustainable management in Asia. 

The conference was hosted by the Viet Nam Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, with core support provided by IUCN, the Ministry of Environment from the Government of Japan, and the Ramsar Centre Japan. 

This 2008 Hanoi Call to Action for Wetlands: Heart of Asia will be disseminated at the forthcoming 10th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands to be held in the Republic of Korea in October 2008.

The ten items in the Hanoi Call to Action are as follows: 

1.    Restore degraded marine/coastal, freshwater and human-made wetlands so that they can continue to conserve biodiversity and provide the range of ecosystem services that contribute to human health and well-being such as food and water supply, water purification, climate and flood regulation, coastal protection, and recreational opportunities.

2.    Develop and implement best practice approaches to agriculture (including aquaculture) in wetlands through the application of environment-friendly farming practices such as Integrated Pest Management, organic farming, waste treatment systems, and efficient water management.

3.    Adopt an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to the development and implementation of tools and methodologies for wetland assessment, monitoring and management, such as wetland valuation, wetland vulnerability assessment, and river basin management.

4.    Document, and disseminate information about traditional cultural practices and indigenous knowledge which contribute positively to the conservation and wise use of wetland resources, and where possible, incorporate these into the management of wetlands.

5.    Identify integrated approaches for linking development goals and biodiversity conservation in order to achieve both improved local livelihoods and wetland protection.  One approach could be to pursue wetland conservation and wise use actions through the Millennium Development Goals and Poverty Reduction Strategies.

6.    Undertake further research on the impacts of climate change on wetlands, and make the findings widely available. Priority should be given to research on practical and effective adaptation and mitigation measures that can be taken at wetland sites, for example, with respect to coastal wetlands, identify measures in response to rising sea levels and natural disasters such as typhoons and cyclones. Mainstream climate change adaptation and/or mitigation strategies into wetland planning and decision-making.

7.    Establish, review and strengthen institutional structures and mechanisms at the regional, national and local levels to support wetland conservation and wise use, including decentralized structures, public-private sector partnerships, and rights-based approaches.

8.    Strengthen existing policy and legal frameworks to enable the meaningful and effective participation of all stakeholders in decision-making related to the conservation and wise use of wetlands; in this regard, priority attention should be paid to enhancing the involvement of marginalized groups such as women, and vulnerable groups such as the poorest of the poor.

9.    Develop transboundary wetland agreements, or “twinning” and flyway networking arrangements as a means to enhance cooperation on shared wetland systems and species, and to promote peace.

10.    Establish mechanisms to enable the effective transfer of knowledge and sharing of experiences on wetland conservation and wise use tools and approaches among wetland researchers, planners and decision-makers in Asia.

Further support for AWS was generously donated by the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund, Foundation of Hokkaido River Disaster Prevention Research Center, Wetlands International, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Deutsche Gesellschart fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).