World Commission on Protected Areas


The IUCN WCPA Freshwater Specialist Group addresses a number of urgent issues relating to the conservation of adequate and representative areas of freshwater / inland waters habitats within protected areas so as to contribute to regional and international management and policy for freshwater ecosystems.
The Sekong River basin, one of the '3S' basins

Freshwater Specialist Group Leaders


The Specialist Group was appointed an important role for the next decade by the Stream 4 organizers of the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress. The organisers noted it will be important to identify legal, institutional and social factors that produce a good synergy between protected area management and water security management. Examples of positive projects across organisations should be chosen, these should be documented, analysed, and the lessons communicated. The WCPA Freshwater Specialist Group should monitor and actively support progress on these sites over the next decade.

Within this overarching mission, the Task Force will continue working on several key goals.

  1. To expand practical contributions which support application of IUCN Freshwater Protected Area guidelines (e.g. via an annotated bibliography and other guidelines).
  2. To support the programme of work on Biological Diversity of Inland Water Ecosystems under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), recognizing the role of the Ramsar Convention and the Convention on Migratory Species. This includes recommendations in the face of climate change, promoting appreciation of environmental flows by Protected Area communities, and identification and designation of a representative network of Protected Areas, including their freshwater components.
  3. To identify freshwater ecosystem priorities for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Sustainable Development target 6.6 focused on protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems, and target 15.1 focused on the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services.
  4. To support the implementation of the UN Watercourses Convention, specifically where it relates to the protection and preservation of ecosystems of international watercourses.
  5. To endorse and promote the global freshwater assessment programmes, for example as lead by IUCN's Global Species Programme, GEO BON’s Freshwater Ecosystem Change Working Group, and the Freshwater Working Group (FWWG) of the Society for Conservation Biology.
  6. To promote integration of information with respect to freshwater components of Protected Areas. This includes working towards mapping of wetlands at different scales, and towards comprehensive Wiki-type catchment-scale information layers.
  7. To remain involved with ongoing development of adaptive management and adaptive governance guidelines as they are released (e.g. CBD, SDG’s, UN Watercourses Convention).
  8. To produce guidelines and publications promoting connectivity in freshwater systems.
  9. To promote increasingly representative and effective collaboration between people involved in management and policy of freshwater Protected Areas.
  10. To distribute outputs from the Taskforce effectively within IUCN and more broadly.
  11. To function as emergent expert/specialist panel on freshwater problems and solutions.



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