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Wetlands International at COP26

The 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)  takes place in Glasgow, Scotland, on 31 October – 12 November 2021 to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

What is COP26?

Every year, Parties to the UNFCCC meet to assess progress on the different streams of the Convention, enhance action, and agree on different rules, guidelines, implementation, among others. When the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015 at COP21, every country agreed to work together to limit global warming to well below 2°C degrees and aim for 1.5°C degrees above pre-industrial levels, and agreed to a low carbon future (net-zero by 2050). Countries committed to bring forward national plans setting out how much they would reduce their GHGs emissions, and enhance adaptation, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). They agreed that every five years they would come back with an updated plan that would reflect their highest possible ambitions. Unfortunately, countries’ NDCs are currently not ambitious enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. The decade out to 2030 will be crucial as the window of opportunity is closing – and countries must be much more ambitious and rigid with their climate plans to turn things around. 

Our ambition

As Nature-based Solutions to climate change with far-reaching benefits for people and nature, wetlands – including mangroves, peatlands and marshes, rivers and lakes, deltas, floodplains and flooded forests – offer a way for our countries to achieve more ambitious climate plans. 

Yet, today, we are losing wetlands at a rate three times faster than forests. Still, they are not getting the same level of attention. Wetlands are increasingly drained, dammed and developed over leading to their degradation and rapid loss. This in turn reduces available freshwater, making our landscapes, food production, communities, economies and societies vulnerable and prone to natural, economic and social disasters. It affects the poorest and most vulnerable and contributes to a global biodiversity in freefall. 

What we need to see at COP26

Our aim at COP26 is to raise awareness of the role of wetlands as one solution to climate change, based on our extensive field evidence, which includes the promotion of wetlands as strong solutions within NDCs. In doing so, we hope to mobilise finance for wetland restoration and conservation, from public and private sources, including the key role of voluntary carbon markets in enabling finance and supporting (developing) countries achieve their NDCs. Now is the time when countries can enhance their ambition in their NDCs, and for them to recognise that we cannot reach net-zero targets or achieve sustainable development without safeguarding and restoring the health of our global wetlands. During COP26 we will follow the negotiation process and provide technical support and advise on aspects relevant to wetlands. 

Key messages

Wetlands are the overlooked solution to climate change. Healthy wetlands store huge amounts of carbon and water, but are disappearing three times faster than forests. The science is clear. If we are to keep 1.5C within reachwe need to urgently safeguard and restore wetlands. 
Implementing nature-based solutions, including safeguarding and restoring wetlands, holds the key to one-third of the climate solution. The science and technical know-how for this is well established. Affordable, accessible and scalable nature-based solutions are ready to be deployed, with local communities and Indigenous people at the heart of this action. 
Nature-based solutions are the smartest investments to draw down carbon from the atmosphere and reach net-zero. We now urgently need to scale up the safeguarding and restoration of wetlands. To make that happen, we need countries to show climate ambition through enhanced Nationally Determined Contributions and National Action Plans including investment in conserving and restoring wetlands as a key strategy. Private financing, including through voluntary carbon markets, can support achievement of NDCs.

Our sessions

Wetlands International is a Core Partner of the Peatlands Pavilion as well as the Water Pavilion at COP26.  

As co-organiser of the Peatland Pavilion

Delegates will be able to watch all sessions via the online platform in real time and on demand once a session has closed (please find all the recorded sessions in the Virtual Peatland Pavilion).

For an overview of all the sessions at the Peatland Pavilion, please click here.

Tuesday, 2 November
Accelerating peatlands through NDC’s
Time: 11.30 – 13.30 GMT
Organisers: Wetlands International
Speakers include: NDC Partnership representativeAnna Romanovskaya, Director of the Institute of Global Climate and Ecology, Russian Federation)Rubén Ramírez (Minister of Environment of Peru) and Pak Alue Dohong, Vice-Minister for Environment of Indonesia) tbc.
Type of event: Hybrid 
Watch the recording: 

Tuesday, 2 November
Peatlands in NDCs & Long Term Strategies (LTSs)
Time: 14.00 – 15.30 GMT
Organisers: FAO/UNEP
Moderated by: Hans Schutten, Program Head Climate Smart Land-use, Wetlands International
Type of event: Hybrid 
Watch the recording:

Thursday, 4 November
Unlocking private finance for peatlands
Time: 9.30 – 11.00 GMT
Speakers include: Ricardo Ulate on behalf of Andrea Meza, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica; Kate Forbes, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy of Scotland; Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, GEF CEO; Ligia Castro, Advisor to the Minister and CC Director of Ministry of Environment of Panama; Jane Madgwick (CEO Wetlands International); Femke Tonneijck, Head of Carbon, Wetlands International);  Ruben Veefkind, Strategy Manager, GreenchoiceEd Rumsey, Managing Partner, Permian GlobalAna Gloria Guzman, Executive Director Conservation International Costa Rica
Type of event: Hybrid 
Watch the recording:

Monday, 8 November
We walk the talk; inspiring peatland restoration success stories in Russia and the Congo
Time: 9.00 – 10.30 GMT
Organisers: Wetlands International
Speakers include:Tatiana Minayeva (for PEATRUS) and Tom Evans (WCS; Lac Tele , Congo)
Type of event: Hybrid
Watch the recording:

Monday, 8 November
Partners for Wetlands: Decade for Wetland Restoration
Time: 11.00 – 12.30 GMT
Organisers: RAMSAR Convention; BirdLife InternationalInternational Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)International Water Management Institute (IWMI)Wetlands International (WI)Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
Speakers include: Hans Schutten, Program Head Climate Smart Land-use, Wetlands International; WWF; IUCN; RAMSAR; FAO; UNEP 
Type of event: Hybrid 
Watch the recording:

Friday, 12 November
Dialogues towards a European Peatland Collaboration
Time: 11.00 – 13.00 GMT
Organisers: Irish Government, Bax & Company, UNEP, GPI, Eurosite, GMCWetlands International
Speakers include: Malcolm Noonan, Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources, Ireland; Gudmundur Ingi Gudbrandsson, Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources, Iceland; Pippa Hackett, Minister for Land Use and Biodiversity, Ireland; Kristina Simonaityté, Advisor to the Minister of Agriculture, Lithuania; Svenja Schulze, Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany; Franziska Tanneberger, Director – Greifwald Mire Centre; Andrew Millar, Chief Scientific Advisor, Scottish Government; Harm Schoten, Director – Eurosite; Aldert Van Weeren, Farmer – Wetland Product Foundation; Shane Regan, Eco-hydrologist – NPWS Ireland; Hans Schutten, Programme Head – Wetlands International, Dianna Kopansky, Coordinator – Global Peatlands Initiative; Minister Malcolm Noonan (Ireland)
Type of event: Hybrid 
Watch the recording:

As co-organiser of the Water Pavilion

Tuesday, 2 November
Macroeconomic Resilience: Making Water-Sensitive Strategic Choices for Growth
Time: 12.45 – 13.30 GMT
Convenors: Rijkswaterstaat, Deltares, AGWA, World Bank, ADB, Wetlands International, OECD, The Resilience Shift, FCDO, GIZ/BMZ

Thursday, 4 November
Creating bankable climate adaptation projects with Nature based Solutions
Time: 10.30 – 11.30 Uk TIme (11.30-12.30 GMT)
Organisers: Wetlands International, EcoShape
Speakers include: Caroline van Tilburg (Climate Asset Management), the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (tbc), Jane Madgwick (CEO Wetlands International), Fokko van der Goot (EcoShape), Apri Susanto Astra (Wetlands International Indonesia) 
Type of event: Virtual

Friday, 12 November
Transboundary wetlands – from mitigation to adaptation
Time: 11.00 – 11.45 GMT
Organisers: Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, Slovenia, EC DG ENVI or DG CLIMA, Wetlands International, Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention
Speakers include: Jane Madgwick, CEO Wetlands International
Type of event: Virtual

Other events

Thursday, 4 November
Resilient Policies: Leveraging Water for National Climate Planning
Time: 13.15 – 14.45 GMT
Organisers: Global Center on Adaptation (GCA), OECD, IWMI, WMO, GWP 
Speakers include: Peter Glas, Chair of the OECD Water Governance Initiative, The Delta  Commission, The NetherlandsJane Madgwick, Wetlands International, Mark Smith, IWMI,  Aditi Mukherjee, IWMI, Imelda Bacudo, ASEAN Climate Resilience NetworkDr Paul Sayers,  Sayers and Partners, Anjali Lohani, or Kidanemariam Tiruneh, Global Water Partnership,  Dr Johannes Cullman, Director, Cross-cutting coordination, water and cryosphere, World  Meteorological Organisation. 
Type of event: Hybrid

Friday, 5 November
Using Nature-Based Solutions for Adapting to Climate Change and Building Economic Resilience Based on Blue Economy Principle
Time: 6.20 – 7.50 GMT
Organisers: Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), Wetlands  International, EDJPRL, Yapeka, Rare, Konservasi Alam Nusantara 
Speakers include: Dr. Hendra Yusran Siry, Secretary Directorate General of Marine Spatial Management, MMAF, Sakti Wahyu Trenggono, Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Republic of Indonesia, MMAF, Dr. Pamudji Lestari, MSc, Acting Director General of Marine Spatial Management, MMAF, The Ambassador of Maldives to Indonesia (tbc), Jane   Madgwick (CEO, Wetlands International), Imran Amin/Muhammad Ilman (YKAN), RARE & YAPEKA 
Type of event: Virtual

Friday, 5 November
Ocean and Coastal Zones Event 
Time: 14.30 – 17.30 GMT
Organisers: Marrakech Partnership
Speakers include: Jane Madgwick (CEO, Wetlands International)
Type of event: Hybrid

Wednesday, 10 November
Global Launch of the Great Blue Wall Initiative
Time: 17.00 – 20.00 GMT
Host:  Minna Epps, Director of IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme
Invited speakers: Ambassador Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim – Co-chair of the Facilitative Working Group of the IPLC Platform of the UNFCCC, Member of Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee and UNSG SDGs Advocate, Member of the Board of the UN Decade for Ecosystem Restoration, Member of the Earth Shot Prize, Member of the Board of Conservation International, Jane Madgwick, Wetlands International CEO, William Warshauer, Technoserve CEO, Oliver Steed – Nekton CEO
Type of event: In-person, Nature Pavilion 

Thursday, 11 November 
Asia Water Hub at the Water Pavilion: Cities and Infrastructure 
Time: 07:00–09:00 Glasgow ● 12:30–14:30 Colombo ● 15:00–17:00 Manila
Organisers: United Nations Sri Lanka, International Water Management institute (IWMI)
Speakers include: Fegi Nurhabni (Deputy Director for Disaster Mitigation and Climate Change Adaptation, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia (MMAF), Ritesh Kumar (Director Wetlands International South Asia), Asian Development Bank, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Rien. Dam, Delegated Representative Water – Indonesia, Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO),The Netherlands-Indonesia
Type of event: Virtual

Virtual Peatland Pavilion

The Virtual Peatland Pavilion can be accessed online, where users will be able to interact and raise questions. New ‘Domes’ with new content, including recorded sessions, will be added over the duration of COP26 and beyond, so we encourage visitors to come back and explore the Virtual Pavilion time after time. You can access and take a tour of the Pavilion here. 

Sign our open letter









In line with our objectives at COP26, our ongoing digital campaign #PowerofWetlands is focused on raising public awareness of and support for wetlands as Nature-based Solutions to climate and biodiversity action, particularly around their inclusion in NDCs to the Paris Agreement. Our overarching call is to make the safeguarding and restoration of wetlands a global and national priority. A growing global youth contingent have taken these demands to an open letter, calling on political and business leaders, and national focal points for the Paris Agreement, to include wetlands within climate plans. Read, sign and share the letter with your networks below.

Sign the letter

Media centre

Press Releases

Water sector thirsty for change at Climate COP >
At COP26, where are the wetlands? >
Momentum gained at COP26 must ensure the future of wetlands>


Al Jazeera, Restoring wetlands can help combat climate change >
Unlocking private finance for wetlands key to tackling climate change >
Daily Nation, Wetlands the powerhouses in climate change crisis war >
Wetlands and nature take center stage at Glasgow climate talks >

In the news

Bloomberg, The Search for a Global Carbon Fix Leads to a Scottish Peat Bog >
China Dialogue Ocean, COP26 deal sees progress on ocean protection >

Jane Madgwick, CEO of Wetlands International, speaks to Al Jazeera at COP26 about the critical role of wetlands as nature-based solutions to climate change.

Wetlands International response to the Glasgow Leader’s Declaration on Forests and Land Use:

These kinds of commitments are no substitute for ending fossil fuels, but they show they right kind of leadership, if promises are kept. However, without including wetlands in forest protection world leaders are missing the point. Wetlands are the number one carbon sink and a powerful climate change impacts mitigator, and continue to be ignored in climate action plans. Wetlands must be part of countries’ NDCs and be included in any discussions on climate finance and nature protection.

Wetlands International response to the Global Methane Pledge:

We welcome this methane pledge to reduce the anthropogenic emissions, including those caused by disturbing or damaging natural wetlands. We find it important to clarify that methane emanating from natural wetlands contributes nothing to the GHGs that the UNFCCC is addressing. Wetlands, if damaged or drained, release CO2, methane and N02. Therefore, protecting wetlands and restoring them to good condition is a powerful climate solution. There can be methane released during the rewetting of drained peatlands, but this is usually for a short while as the wetland heals itself. Science and research has made clear that healthy wetlands are the best natural carbon sink, far outpacing any methane these highly valuable natural areas may release. It is vital not to be distracted from the urgent task to reduce the massive CO2 emissions caused by wetland drainage, keeping in mind that methane stays in the atmosphere for perhaps decades, while CO2 is with us for centuries.

Julien Anseau
Contact number: +65 9233 8270
Email: [email protected]

Arin de Hoog
Contact number: +31 646 197 329
Email: [email protected]


Social media toolkit

A trello board where you can download our social media cards, captions and key messages showcasing the power of wetlands. Show your support and tag us in your posts! Click here to access the toolkit.

Peatland Track Record

With 25 years of experience working on peatlands, we have drawn on our strengths as a science-based network organisation with expertise in managing water and wetlands, to expand our partnerships, knowledge base and action on peatlands around the world. Click here to explore our peatland track record.

Endorsed documents

Put human rights at the centre of environmental policy

Blue Carbon: Integrating Ocean Ecosystems in Global Climate Action

Building on the Ocean-Climate Dialogue: Options for strengthening action on the ocean under the UNFCCC

Climate Change and Sediment Management Pledge

Press Release: Climate Change and Sediment Management Pledge

Climate Action Pathway: Water

Coastal and Marine Ecosystems as Nature-based-Solutions in new or updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)


Why wetlands are essential for life

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Meet the #PowerofWetlands ambassadors!

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Rewetting Russia’s Peatlands


The mires must be wet


Protect carbon megastores – Pantanal, Brazil

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About the Pantanal – Corredor Azul

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The regional climate weeks were held in the run up to COP26, and this event on 26 September 2021, co-organised by Wetlands International, International Alert, CARE, and International Water Management Institute (IWMI) for Africa Climate Week, engaged panelists from different levels in discussing how restoring wetlands contribute to making Sahelian communities more secure and resilient to climate change and conflict. Find out more here.

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