German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) (1971)

The Convention of Wetlands

Logo of the  Ramsar-Convention

Brief description

The Ramsar Convention is a global agreement with the objective to ensure the conservation and sustainable use ("wise use") of wetlands. Further key areas of work of the Convention include communication and education on the importance of wetlands and international cooperation in this field.

Contracting Parties:

171 (as of March 2021), Germany has been a member since 1976

In force since



Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP)

Governmental representatives of all Parties meet triennially at the COP to agree on a work programme for the next three-year period, adopt guidelines on various priority topics and consult on ongoing and emerging issues. Representatives of non-member states, intergovernmental institutions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) also attend the conference as non-voting observers.

Standing Committee

The Standing Committee of the Ramsar Convention supervises the affairs of the Convention and the activities of the Secretariat. It represents the Conference of the Parties between its triennial meetings and is guided by the framework of the decisions made by the COP.

Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP)

The Scientific and Technical Review Panel was established to provide scientific and technical advice to the Conference of the Parties, the Standing Committee and the Secretariat of the Convention on the protection and sustainable use of wetlands.


The Secretariat coordinates the activities of the Convention. The Secretariat's main tasks include:

  • maintaining the List of Wetlands of International Importance;
  • providing assistance in the recruitment of new Contracting Parties;
  • publishing the Decisions, Resolutions and Recommendations of the COP and the Standing Committee;
  • providing administrative and communications support to the STRP;
  • providing administrative, scientific and technical support to Contracting Parties, especially in relation to the implementation of the Convention’s Strategic Plan.


Originally, the objective of the Ramsar Convention was the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands as habitats of water birds. However, the Convention's objectives have expanded significantly since its adoption in 1971 and now include the holistic protection of wetlands as important ecosystems for the conservation of biodiversity. The Ramsar Convention thus focuses on the protection and sustainable use ("wise use") of wetlands, communication and education on the importance of wetlands, and international cooperation in this field.


The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty. Its Contracting Parties commit to nominating at least one wetland within their territory as a "Wetland of International Importance" and to ensuring the conservation of ecosystem functions and services within it and within further sites that are to be nominated, if possible. Contracting Parties must also take steps to ensure the wise use of the other wetlands within their territories Member and are called upon to cooperate internationally. Every three years, a detailed report on the implementation of the Convention in the respective Member State must be submitted.

Under the Ramsar Convention, guidelines and technical support materials are developed, resolutions on various aspects of wetland protection at the global level are adopted, and public communication measures on the importance of wetlands are implemented.

The implementation of the Convention is mainly based on the cooperation between the Contracting States, the Standing Committee, the Ramsar Secretariat and the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP). The Convention's Strategic Plan (Ramsar Strategic Plan 2016-2024) provides directions for the work of the Convention bodies. The Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP) meets every three years to review general trends and new developments and to adopt further measures for implementation.

BfN’s tasks

BfN advises BMU and the Länder authorities on the implementation and further development of the Ramsar Convention and provides the National Focal Point for the STRP.

Further information on BfN's international activities in the context of the Ramsar Convention


Last Change: 22/03/2021