Legislative measures and national policies

This section sets out the obligations for Parties relating to legislative measures and policies at the national level in relation to inland waters, including legislation, policy and institutional requirements.

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands provides the bulk of the provisions of this section, but other conventions, CBD, CITES, CMS and UNFCCC as well as regional agreements contribute as well.

Besides national wetland policies under the Ramsar Convention, national biodiversity strategies and action plans under the CBD play a prominent role, and the provisions of this section should be particularly helpful for developing and updating such policy documents. Taking the provisions of this section into account could inform the processes of developing and updating national wetland policies, national biodiversity strategies and action plans, but also national adaptation programmes of action under the UNFCCC and national action programmes under the UNCCD.

Several provisions here provide for cooperative approaches to implementation of the different conventions, for example the call of the CMS to integrate migratory species into national biodiversity strategies and action plans under the CBD as well as activities implementing CBD work programmes. Another case relates to the call of the UNFCCC to integrate climate change objectives in key areas of national sustainable development strategies such as biodiversity and to integrate sustainable land management issues within UNFCCC national adaptation programmes of action.

Several convention provisions ask for the integration of biodiversity concerns into sectoral plans, programmes, legislation and policies (see in particular the activity on developing and reviewing policy measures). Implementation of these provisions will be particularly important for achieving the objectives of the conventions. In many cases, these obligations refer to sustainable use of biodiversity, to climate change concerns or to action on invasive alien species; see the modules on these three subjects for further guidance.

UNEP has developed a number of publications, which aim at supporting the development of national legislation and policy on inland waters. Of particular interest is the Guidebook for Policy and Legislative Development on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Freshwater Resources, available in the background section of this website. UNEP has also adopted the Guidelines on Compliance with and Enforcement of Multilateral Environmental Agreements, the use of which Ramsar has asked for. Related to the Guidelines is the Draft Manual on Compliance with and Enforcement of Multilateral Environmental Agreements; both documents are available in the background section of this website.

Substantial information on legislation and policies in relation to large dams impacting on inland waters is provided by the report of the World Commission on Dams Dams and Development - A New Framework for Decision-Making, which is available through the background pages.