Urban mangrove in China

Proposed Rights for Wetlands

An international team of scientists has called for wetlands to be given rights. The group, led by Gillian Davies at Tufts University and BSC Group, has drafted a Universal Declaration of Rights of Wetlands. This initial Declaration of inherent rights of wetlands includes:

1.         The right to exist.

2.         The right to their ecologically determined location in the landscape.

3.         The right to natural, connected, and sustainable hydrological regimes.

4.         The right to ecologically sustainable climatic conditions.

5.         The right to have naturally occurring biodiversity, free of introduced or invasive species that disrupt their ecological integrity.

6.         The right to integrity of structure, function, evolutionary processes and the ability to fulfil natural ecological roles in the Earth’s processes.

7.         The right to be free from pollution and degradation.

8.         The right to regeneration and restoration.

The authors say the Declaration, and official recognition of the rights, would be another mechanism to limit how people damage wetlands; and support wetlands continuing to provide ecosystem services to people. They point out that new approaches stopping wetland loss are necessary.

Read more context for the proposal in this free-to-access article. You can also contact the lead author, Gillian Davies, via an email address on that page. The initiative also has this webpage.
For other topics on culture and wetlands, see the Ramsar Culture Network.  

The idea has sparked debate within WWN’s committee. We would like to hear from WWN members just what you think of the idea, and the wording of the Declaration. Would such a Declaration feel fair in your community? Do you represent people who already believe in the rights of a wetland?

Please submit comments in the box below, or email them to the WWN Secretary before 28 February 2021.