Shifting the Paradigm: A Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands (#RightsOfWetlands)

The global climate destabilization and biodiversity loss crises, of which global wetland loss and deterioration is a part, call out for a fundamental paradigm shift in the human-wetlands/human-Nature relationship. This shift is supported by the growing rights of Nature movement that acknowledges Nature/elements of Nature as living beings entitled to rights similar to rights held by humans. Indigenous Peoples, local communities, non-governmental organizations and others have been leading the way, with many recent legal and legislative successes.

ⓒ Rights of Wetlands

A group of wetland and climate scientists and attorneys, coming together through the Society of Wetland Scientists’ Ramsar Section and Climate Change and Wetlands Initiative, propose a wetland-specific response to the growing rights of Nature movement in an article published in Marine & Freshwater Research titled Towards a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands (see The article makes the case for the recognition of the inherent rights of wetlands and proposes specific rights in a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands (Declaration). Supplementary material includes a timeline and world map to illustrate some of the many cultures around the world who have recognized rights of Nature and the historical roots for the expansion of the circle of rights holders and rights of Nature. (see The authors plan to share the Declaration with all 171 signatory countries of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) to invite them to work with others to foster greater understanding and respect for rights of wetlands, and to uphold these rights. The Declaration has already garnered endorsement from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund ( and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (, and others are encouraged to do so as well. This may be one of the most significant developments in the wetland world in 2021. A website is being developed.

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