CGIAR Gender News

Ramsar Convention and the wise use of wetlands: Rethinking gender equality and inclusion

Photo of woman holding mola Photo: Holly Holmes/WorldFish Center.

The Ramsar Convention, an international, intergovernmental convention promoting the wise protection and sustainable use of wetlands, was founded in 1971. However, it wasn’t until 2018 that a resolution on gender was added to the convention. The new addition recognizes the “importance of coherence between gender-responsive climate and biodiversity policies and the balanced participation of women and men in the implementation of the Convention.”

Although vital, the Resolution has come late in the day. Structural inequality remains a key feature of wetland infrastructure, and this needs to change.

Today 171 countries are signatories to the Convention and committed to conserving the unique ecological character of wetlands while also taking into account the other social and economic values these landscapes hold for different stakeholders.

Wetlands are diverse ecosystems and provide critical food supplies, and fresh water, fiber and fuel and help regulate essential ecological water flows. In the face of climate risks and challenges, wetlands are more important than ever before, as they help reduce pollution of fresh water resources and mitigate risks of floods and droughts. In sum, the wise use of wetlands contributes to over 75 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicators.

Diverse groups of local communities, including some of the most marginalised local communities live within or close to wetlands. These populations rely on wetlands resources for meeting their livelihood needs and can act as stewards in maintaining the ecological integrity of these landscapes.