Effective programmes for integrated river basin management are critical for the protection and wise use of rivers and other wetland ecosystems. Conversely, considering wetland ecosystems as essential aspects of “water infrastructure” can help to support integrative water resources management programmes, especially in relation to water supply and development objectives. In recognition of the critical role of wetland ecosystems in the delivery of water and water-related ecosystem services, and the importance of water for maintaining the ecological character of wetlands, Contracting Parties of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands have adopted several significant water-related Resolutions and a range of scientific and technical guidance. The Convention’s water-related guidance is intended to assist policy makers and wetland managers towards developing and implementing practical strategies and solutions to problems and challenges associated with integration of wetlands and water management. on the guidance further promotes best practices in the development and implementation of cross-sectoral policies and programmes where these depend on or affect wetlands, for example in relation to climate change, food and water security, and poverty reduction. The very real institutional, technical, biophysical and economic challenges related to integrated river basin management must be recognized. However, progress in integrating the needs of wetland ecosystems into land and water resources planning and management at river basin level remains slow: successes tend to be hard-won over very long periods, frequently confined to smaller river basins, and seeming often to need the incentive of threatened or actual collapse of wetland ecosystems in order to stimulate collaborative planning and implementation in response. Case studies suggest that while the range of potential obstacles and challenges to integrating wetlands into river basin management might be limited to a set of fairly common generic themes, locally-developed solutions to overcoming them are varied and creative
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