This section sets out the obligations for Parties relating to the management of inland waters for conservation and sustainable use. It includes not only provisions on management per se, but also on issues such as restoration and management planning (note that national plans and other policy documents are dealt with in the section on legislative measures and national policies).

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands provides by far most of the provisions of this section, with other conventions - CBD, CITES, CMS, World Heritage Convention (in particular the Operational Guidelines of the Convention), UNCCD and UNFCCC as well as regional agreements - contributing as well. The section is particular rich in obligations, which reflects the importance that the decision-making bodies of the conventions lend to the issue of management of ecosystems.

The Ramsar Convention has adopted a range of guidelines for implementation. In the context of this section on management, the New guidelines for management planning of Ramsar sites are of particular importance. Their implementation has the potential to support the implementation of many provisions of the other conventions, for example aspects of the inland water work programme of the CBD and of the Operational Guidelines of the World Heritage Convention.
The provisions of this section could help to develop a range of cooperative action at the national level between the agencies in charge of different conventions. For example, both Ramsar and CBD ask for actions to prevent, control or eradicate invasive alien species (see the section on management of the Invasive Alien Species module for further guidance in this regard). Similarly, both conventions encourage the participation of indigenous and local communities in the management of ecosystems. Management plans for Ramsar sites and World Heritage sites are being called for by the Ramsar Convention and the World Heritage Convention, respectively, and a range of sites have been nominated as Wetlands of International Importance as well as World Heritage sites, offering a cooperative approach to management.

Many provisions in this section relate to issues that are covered by the modules on sustainable use, biodiversity and climate change, or invasive alien species in more detail. For extended guidance on these three issues, it is recommended to consult the respective module.

Substantial information on ecosystem management 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.