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Supporting a universal declaration of the rights of wetlands

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  • Wetland values, status and trends

Wetlands International is supporting a proposed Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands.

The proposed declaration, developed by scientists and attorneys through the Society of Wetland Scientists, sets out the rights of ecosystems and species, much in the way that we regard fundamental human rights. The initiative is a wetlands-focused response to the growing Rights of Nature movement, which acknowledges that nature is living and as such is entitled to the sort of rights as those enjoyed by humans.

Indigenous people, local communities, non-governmental organisations and others have had successes recently in safeguarding ecosystems using this approach. Wetland loss around the world contributes significantly to the climate and biodiversity global emergencies, and efforts to slow this deterioration and loss so far have failed to turn the tide. The Rights of Wetlands looks to use a rights-based approach to address the global climate and biodiversity emergencies.

The Society of Wetland Scientists’ Ramsar Section, Climate Change and Wetlands Initiative and newly formed Rights of Wetlands Initiative have detailed the thinking underpinning the initiative in Marine & Freshwater Research titled Towards a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands. The article makes the case for the  rights of wetlands and proposes specific rights in the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands.

The aim is to share the declaration with all 171 signatory countries of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and invite them to work with others to foster greater understanding and respect for rights of wetlands, and to uphold these rights.

Alongside Wetlands International, organisations including Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, EarthThrive, Fundación Lagunas Costeras, Gaia Foundation, Global Alliance for Rights of Nature – Europe, Rights of Nature Sweden, Rights of Mother Earth and Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust are supporting the Declaration.

Supplementary material produced includes a timeline and world map to illustrate some of the many cultures around the world who have recognised the Rights of Nature. There are also examples of historical roots for the expansion of the circle of rights holders and Rights of Nature.

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Join the discussion at #RightsOfWetlands