This section sets out the obligations for Parties relating to the assessment of inland waters, including implementation requirements regarding inventories and designation of sites, monitoring and research, impact assessment, reporting and indicators.

Not surprisingly, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands provides the bulk of the provisions of this section. Particularly prominent are the provisions on the identification, inventorying and designation of wetlands, inter alia for the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. Other conventions, in particular the CBD, also contribute with many provisions. This reflects the importance that assessments have gained within the concert of the biodiversity-related and other environmental conventions.

Assessments provide a number of options for enhancing cooperation between convention focal points and agencies at the national level. Those include, for example, the following.

  • National wetland inventories, as requested by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, will also help implement the provisions of the other biodiversity-related conventions, all of which request the use of inventories for various purposes. The designation of Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar sites), following the inventorying of wetlands, might help to identify areas that qualify as World Heritage sites. Important information for the latter could come from the Ramsar Information Sheets (RIS).
  • Monitoring of inland waters is a requirement under the CBD, which could match similar requirements for wetlands in general and Wetlands of International Importance under Ramsar. CITES and CMS require monitoring of particular inland water species, which could be part of and support monitoring exercises under Ramsar and CBD.
  • CBD, Ramsar and UNCCD all ask for the development of indicators. Although the focus of the indicators varies between the conventions, there is good potential for the identification of a limited number of indicators at the national level that serve the purposes of all three of these conventions.
  • Both Ramsar and CMS ask for using the CBD Guidelines for incorporating biodiversity-related issues into environmental impact assessment legislation. This could help to achieve joint implementation of these provisions at the national level.

Note that the activity on assessments of alien species is closely linked to the section on assessments in the module on invasive alien species. It is recommended to check that section for additional provisions on this subject.

Of particular importance for the assessment of inland waters is the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Wetlands and Water Synthesis, which is available from the background pages of this website.

UNEP has published a series of regional assessment reports in the framework of the Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA) project (see background materials on this website). These assessments will provide further information and might provide guidance on assessment of inland waters in other regions and countries than those covered by the GIWA reports