IUCN Water Programme and Wetlands

IUCN is working with the Ramsar Convention and Contracting Parties, but also with grassroots communities and river basin agencies, to implement wetland conservation as part of its water management work. The benefits are clear: not only does it help to conserve biodiversity and livelihoods, but wetland conservation brings benefits to water quality, fisheries and protection against floods.

In 1985, IUCN together with WWF, started a major wetlands campaign called ‘Life at the Water’s Edge’. This campaign promoted the need for wetland conservation, produced a vast array of communication materials, and set out a clear wetland conservation programme.

Since then, the multiple roles of wetland ecosystems and their value to humanity have been increasingly understood, as documented in the TEEB report on Water and Wetlands. The knowledge that millions of people around the world rely on wetlands for livelihoods is familiar now to many.  

The Inner Niger Delta, for example, hosts about 20% of the population in Mali and generates on average 90,000 tonnes of fish catch per year. The lower Mekong delta supports the world's most productive inland fisheries, valued at around USD 3 billion per year. These inland fisheries provide 56 million people with up to 80% of their animal protein intake.


Fisherfolk make their way through the Sundarbans mangrove forest

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