Towards a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands

G. T. Davies, C. M. Finlayson, D. E. Pritchard, N. C. Davidson, R. C. Gardner, W. R. Moomaw, E. Okuno, J. C. Whitacre

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12 Citations (Scopus)
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The rights of Nature, a concept recognised by several courts, legislatures and international governance institutions, is being promoted by some non-governmental organisations, scientists, attorneys, Indigenous peoples, local communities, and others. In this article we propose a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands, consistent with the 1982 World Charter for Nature. Recognition of these rights supports the provision of ecosystem services essential to human well-being and to other life on Earth. Further, such rights could reinforce efforts to reduce wetland loss and deterioration, thereby slowing climate destabilisation and biodiversity declines. Because world scientists have warned that biodiversity loss, ecosystem degradation and climate destabilisation, which intensify wetland loss, constitute global emergencies, new approaches are required to ensure that wetlands are protected and their benefits to people sustained. The proposed Universal Declaration of the Rights of Wetlands states that wetlands possess rights to: exist; their ecologically determined location in the landscape; natural, connected and sustainable hydrological regimes; ecologically sustainable climatic conditions; naturally occurring biodiversity; regeneration and restoration; integrity of structure, function and evolutionary processes; fulfil natural ecological roles in the Earth's processes; and be free from pollution and degradation. Recognition of these rights is seen as an essential step in efforts to stop wetland loss and deterioration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-600
Number of pages8
JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
Issue number5
Early online date10 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


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