Key Messages

Key messages

  • Wetland agriculture can sustain livelihoods and reduce poverty.
  • Wetlands contribute in diverse ways to the livelihoods of millions of people in Africa and Asia and are of huge economic importance.
  • In many developing countries wetland agriculture is an important ecosystem service which is often overlooked and undervalued as a pathway out of poverty.
  • Management approaches that incorporate appropriate sustainable water and agricultural practices can result in a net increase in the overall productivity of wetlands and their long-term economic value.

Developing appropriate policies for wetlands is not easy. Often, wetlands are covered under multiple sectors with no single sector being in overall charge. Moreover, the complex nature of livelihoods and their relationships to linked systems of natural resources make it difficult to identify and define authority structures that can take overall responsibility for use and management of wetland resources. Furthermore, enforcement of formal regulations for wetland use and agriculture will be unlikely to succeed in countries that lack the resources to monitor and police wetland utilization.


A policy framework for sustainable wetlands management requires two key features:

  • Maintaining the ecological integrity of wetlands should be clearly incorporated in policies dealing with larger landscapes (e.g., river basins and provinces).
  • A mechanism that empowers local people to manage and control wetlands in their own landscape. The challenge in this case is to devise self-regulating and self-enforcing incentives for sustainable management and to contribute to the development of policies that facilitate their implementation.


Photo Credit: IWMI
Photo Credit: IWMI