Support Grows for Rights of Wetlands

A growing list of groups have signed onto a declaration for the rights of wetlands, spearheaded by an international group of wetlands scientists.

In December, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) officially endorsed a proposal for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands, organized by lawyers and scientists with the Society of Wetland Scientists’ Rights of Wetlands and Climate Change and Wetlands initiatives. The group is planning to share the Declaration with the 171 signatory countries of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention), and inviting them to work with others to move toward a framework that ensures the rights of wetlands are understood, respected and upheld, including through contributing knowledge and guidance on designated Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance. “CELDF is excited to endorse the efforts as a step toward recognizing and enforcing the rights of wetlands,” we wrote in December.

“The ongoing destabilization of the global climate and rapid loss of biodiversity impress upon us the urgency for shifting the human–Nature relationship to one of greater reciprocity and respect for Nature,” the authors of the Declaration write.

A growing number of groups are signing on in support, and in addition to CELDF and the Society of Wetland Scientists, include Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Rights of Mother Earth, Rights of Nature Sweden, Wetlands International, Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature Europe, The Gaia Foundation, Earth Thrive, Funcaión Lagunas Costeras, Funcaión Montecito, Virginia Community Rights Network, Stichting Mission Lanka, Cobra Collective, National Community Rights Network, Earth Lore, Afrie, African Biodiversity Network, Grabe-Benin and Society for Alternative Learning & Transformation.

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Una traducción al español del Declaración Universal de los Derechos de los Humedales:

As we collectively advance a paradigm shift in how ecosystems are treated by dominant systems of law, it will be critical to simultaneously develop interpretations of the rights of specific ecosystems, based upon local indigenous ecological knowledge, and the best available scientific research. This effort within the conventional scientific discipline to begin to apply science for the interpretation of ecosystem rights is exciting and needed.

“The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands and its proposed adoption by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an important step forward for ecosystem protections,” says Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin, one of CELDF’s lawyers. “Existing environmental law has not reversed ongoing ecological destruction, even as it has sometimes been effective at protecting particular habitats. We must both fight with the tools we have, while also creating new tools to respond to interconnected ecological and humanitarian crises. We look forward to working alongside wetland scientists and the parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.”

To read the Declaration and sign on in support visit:

CELDF’s initial endorsement announcement:


About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is helping build a decolonial movement for Community Rights and the Rights of Nature to advance democratic, economic, social, and environmental rights – building upward from the grassroots to the state, federal, and international levels.