UPSC (GS) RAMSAR CONVENTION - Online Study Materials

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  • The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands. It is also known as the Convention on Wetlands.
  • It is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran, where the Convention was signed in 1971. It came into force in 1975. It is the only global environmental treaty that deals with a particular ecosystem.
  • It provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.
  • Every three years, representatives of the Contracting Parties meet as the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP), the policy-making organ of the Convention which adopts decisions (Resolutions and Recommendations) to administer the work of the Convention and improve the way in which the Parties are able to implement its objectives.


  • The conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local, regional and national actions and international co-operation, as a contribution toward achieving sustainable development throughout the world.

Ramsar list:

  • At the time of joining the convention, each contracting party designates at least one site for inclusion in the List of wetlands of international Importance (“Ramsar list”).

Advantages of including a site in the ramsar list:

  • Confers it the prestige of international recognition.Express the government’s commitment to ensure the maintenance of the ecological character of the site.

Trans boundary Ramsar Sites:

  • An ecologically coherent site wetland extends across national borders and the ramsar site authorities on both or all side of the border have formally agreed to collaborate in its management and have notified the secretariat of this intent.
  • This is a co-operative management arrangement and not a distinct legal status for the Ramsar sites involved.

International organization partners

The Ramsar Convention works closely with six other organisations known as International Organization Partners (IOPs). These are:
  1. Birdlife International 
  2. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
  3. International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
  4. Wetlands International WWF 
  5. International Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)
These organizations support the work of the Convention by providing expert technical advice, helping implement field studies, and providing financial support. The IOPs also participate regularly as observers in all meetings of the Conference of the Parties and as full members of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel.

Lists of wetlands of International Importance

  • The List of Wetlands of International Importance included 2,231 Ramsar Sites in March 2016 covering over 2.1 million square kilometres. The country with the highest number of Sites is the United Kingdom with 170, and the country with the greatest area of listed wetlands is Bolivia, with over 140,000 square kilometres.