The relationship of indigenous peoples and local communities with wetlands

Wetlands and water sources and bodies are precious areas for indigenous peoples. They are often part of our traditional territories and resources, and provide the basis for the livelihoods of our families and communities; they are also fundamental elements of our cultures, since many of those places are sacred and have high spiritual significance. Many indigenous peoples have developed their cultures based on the interactions with wetlands and water – our ways of life, our cultural expressions and our value systems are deeply connected to those ecosystems.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands has a long-standing commitment to the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in the management of wetlands.  Their wise and customary use of wetlands can therefore play and important role in the conservation of these ecosystems.

In the occasion of the ‘International Day for the World’s Indigenous Peoples’, which takes place on August 9th each year, the Ramsar Convention Secretariat has published, with the support of MAVA Foundation, an initial report on ‘The relationship of indigenous peoples and local communities with wetlands.’ 



The report provides a compilation of the Convention’s available data on indigenous peoples and local communities. It presents an overview of the Convention’s current policy framework, and provides examples of approaches from other relevant environmental policy processes, international law and practices that the Contracting Parties could consider in order to strengthen the Convention’s inclusive and participatory approach to wetland conservation and wise use.

The publication also provides an analysis of lessons learned from national experiences. A series of ‘options for action’ to strengthen participation and governance and enhance livelihood benefits are also suggested within the report.



This report draws from, and is complemented by, case studies from ‘Learning form Experience: How indigenous peoples and local communities contribute to wetland conservation in Asia and Oceania’ (supported by the MAVA Foundation), ‘Ramsar and World Heritage Conventions: Converging towards success’ (supported by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, UNEP, and the MAVA Foundation,  and ‘Rapid cultural inventories of wetlands in Arab states: Including Ramsar Sites and World Heritage Properties’ (supported by the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage and the MAVA Foundation).

To download this Report, click on the link below: