The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.


The Convention uses a broad definition of wetlands. It includes all lakes and rivers, underground aquifers, swamps and marshes, wet grasslands, peatlands, oases, estuaries, deltas and tidal flats, mangroves and other coastal areas, coral reefs, and all human-made sites such as fish ponds, rice paddies, reservoirs and salt pans.

Vaya Lake is Ramsar Site 1230 –

Under the “three pillars” of the Convention, the Contracting Parties commit to:

  • work towards the wise use of all their wetlands;
  • designate suitable wetlands for the list of Wetlands of International Importance (the “Ramsar List”) and ensure their effective management;
  • cooperate internationally on transboundary wetlands, shared wetland systems and shared species.
  • The Contracting Parties implement the Ramsar Convention in their territories and collaborate on shared projects. The government agency responsible for its national application is known as the country’s Administrative Authority. This agency appoints a National Focal Point to coordinate national implementation and act as the daily contact point.
  • Every three years the Parties meet at the Conference of the Contracting Parties (the COP), where they adopt decisions to administer the Convention and guide its implementation.
  • Between the COPs, the Parties are represented by the Standing Committee, which meets yearly. The Standing Committee is guided by the framework of the decisions made by the COP.
  • Two advisory bodies develop technical guidance to help the Standing Committee and the COP formulate policies: the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (the STRP) and the Communication, Education, Participation and Awareness (CEPA) Oversight Panel.
  • They are all supported by the Convention’s Secretariat and the International Organization Partners (IOPs) which the Parties have formally recognized as official partners of the Convention.
  • The scope and focus of the Convention’s work is coordinated by means of a Strategic Plan and associated work plans which set out priority objectives and the actions expected or requested of the various bodies of the Convention.


The Convention works with a diverse global network of partners to meet its objectives. They range from other global Conventions and agencies, to international and national non-governmental organizations and prominent private companies.

One of these non-governmental organizations is the Via Pontica Foundation.