Healthy, natural wetlands are critical for human survival. Yet they face many challenges. The Convention on Wetlands (the Ramsar Convention) is the only international legal treaty primarily focused on wetlands. It works globally to promote their conservation and wise use, ensuring that wetlands play a key role in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals, Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and other related commitments. The Global Wetland Outlook outlines the status and trends in wetlands worldwide, along with the challenges and responses.
2. Status and Trends
Ramsar tracks global wetland status and trends, which helps measure progress in Sustainable Development Goal 6. Natural wetlands have declined in inland, coastal and marine habitats; a small growth in artificial wetlands fails to compensate. Populations of wetland-dependent species are declining and many are threatened. Global water quality is still getting worse. Yet wetlands are critically important for their ecosystem services: food and water security, disaster risk reduction and carbon sequestration amongst others. Their economic and biodiversity value far outweighs many terrestrial ecosystems.
3. Drivers of Change
There are three main drivers of change: direct drivers that create biophysical change in wetlands (land use change, pollution, etc.), indirect drivers that are the processes in society that create the direct drivers, and global megatrends that are behind several indirect drivers. Effective policy and management for wise use need a good understanding of the drivers of change in wetlands so that the root causes of wetland loss and degradation can be addressed. Effective governance at local, national and regional levels is a key factor for preventing, stopping and reversing the trend of wetland loss and degradation.
Responses must address many challenges simultaneously. Enhancing the network of Ramsar Sites, and of other protected and conserved areas, ensures a conservation framework. Integrating wetlands into the post-2015 development agenda, and the Sustainable Development Goals, will help achieve wise use. Ramsar has several mechanisms to respond to problems and to measure progress towards goals. Other tools are also needed: legal and policy instruments, economic and financial incentives and sustainable production. Capacity building and encouraging diverse perspectives are both critical to success.
Technical Note to Introduction
The Introduction section of the Global Wetland Outlook (GWO) provides the overall context for the report, explaining the Ramsar Convention’s role in promoting wetland conservation and wise use.
Technical Note to Status and Trends
The Status and Trends section of the Global Wetland Outlook (GWO) provides the context for the report by examining the distribution and condition of wetlands globally. This Technical Note provides further information on the area of wetlands globally. This is provided in support of the information on wetland area that has been summarised and included in the GWO.
Technical Note to Drivers of Change
The Drivers of Change section of the Global Wetland Outlook (GWO) discusses the three main drivers of wetland change: direct drivers, indirect drivers and global megatrends. Direct drivers create biophysical change in wetlands through, for example, land use and pollution. Indirect drivers are processes in society that create the direct drivers, while global megatrends influence the indirect drivers.
Technical Note to Responses
The Responses section of the Global Wetland Outlook (GWO) examines different actions that contribute to the Ramsar Strategic Plan 2016-2020’s goals of: addressing wetland loss and degradation; conserving and effectively managing Ramsar Sites; using wetlands wisely; and enhancing implementation of the Convention.