8 - 12 July 2012, Kigali, Rwanda

Wetlands: wise use, smart plans
Meeting the challenges for sustainable wetlands use

Forum Summary

The International Forum 'Wetlands: Wise Use, Smart Plans' held in Kigali, Rwanda from 8 to 13 July developed new initiatives to meet the challenges of wetland management and capacity building. Despite their importance, wetland loss and degradation is widespread. While extensive knowledge on the causes of degradation and improved management and protection of wetlands exists, integration of knowledge, policy and action for the wise and sustainable use of wetlands remains a major challenge. The Forum was held to address these challenges in Africa. It included over 100 participants, mainly from 23 African countries.

The Forum was jointly organized by the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA), the Ramsar Convention Secretariat and the Centre for Development and Innovation (CDI) of Wageningen University. We thank these organisations, and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nile Basin Capacity Building Network (NBCBN), the Ramsar Centre for East Africa (RAMCEA), WacoWet, and NigerWet for financial support.

The Forum was opened by the Honourable Stanislas Kamanzi, Minister of Natural Resources of Rwanda and Chairperson of the Nile Council of Ministers, and presided over by Dr Rose Mukankomeje, Director General of REMA, Mr Anada TiĆ©ga, Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and Prof Stefan Uhlenbrook, Vice-Rector, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education. Using a “bottom-up” participatory approach, keynotes and “stimulus” presentations discussions were geared towards supporting the development of more effective wetland policies within the framework of integrated water resources management, and addressing the needs for both economic development and environmental integrity. All presentations of the Forum can be found here.

Forum Objectives

The objectives of the Forum were:

  • Identifying major issues for successfully linking policies with sustainable use of wetlands
  • Developing new initiatives for capacity building in support of knowledge exchange on wetlands
  • Connecting partners for future initiatives on wetland policy, research and capacity building
  • Providing a synthesis of lessons learnt and novel approaches by integrating ecological, social science, economic and political experiences

A series of working groups identified local and regional needs, and the means to address them. The whole process was facilitated by Ingrid Gevers from CDI with support from Abdoulaye Ndiaye, Paul Ouedraogo and the individual chair persons/facilitators for each of the working groups. A summary of the process for developing the initiatives, led by Ingrid Gevers, can be found below.

The pathway to action

The final session of the Forum, chaired by the Director General of REMA, Dr Rose Mukankomeje, presented the outputs of the Forum. These provide a new impulse for wetlands research and capacity building on the African continent. Forum outputs included new initiatives for policy, research and, capacity building for wetlands.

In addition to 14 regional or thematic initiatives (see below), participants identified personal targets to achieve in the short to medium term (see below). The Forum invites an update of both large and small initiatives, which will be posted on the website.

Summary of the Smart Plans

Short and Medium Term Commitments


Please visit the websites of the main organisations involved in the planning of the Forum by clicking on their logos.