Turning Local Swamps into Wetlands of International Importance: The Ramsar Convention of 1971

This paper argues that the Ramsar Convention of 1971 represents both a paradigm shift in environmental policy and diplomacy, and a link between two perspectives on the environment. In fact, the Convention connects a more traditional focus on the protection of endangered species with the new emphasis on the protection of an entire ecosystem which provides the biological basis for these same species. The paper seeks to analyze the environmental conditions for this paradigm shift, the context in which it translated into an international agreement, and assesses the latter's scope and broader consequences.