Riparian countries of the Wadden Sea sign declaration of intent for closer cooperation and the establishment of a partner network
The protection of the Wadden Sea is facing major challenges such as the impacts of climate change, marine litter, nutrients and pollutants. In order to protect the unique ecosystem of the Wadden Sea, representatives of the Wadden Sea Cooperation from Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands and various partners from the areas of environment, education, science, tourism and from municipalities signed a declaration of intent in Wilhelmshaven today. The three countries have been cooperating on the protection of the Wadden Sea for over 40 years.
Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Environment Ministry, opened the anniversary celebration together with the environment minister of Lower Saxony, Olaf Lies. She underlined the importance of transboundary cooperation for the successful protection of the Wadden Sea World Natural Heritage Site as a model for international cooperation on nature conservation.
Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter said: "Cooperation among the Wadden Sea family is exemplary. We want to continue developing this partnership of various actors at local, regional and international level. This is an important signal especially in times of scepticism towards the EU and criticism concerning international cooperation. Establishing the partnership hub and the new partnership centre in Wilhelmshaven will stabilize the basis of our cooperation even further."
This enhanced network will help the three countries better face the challenges ahead together with their partners. They will jointly develop measures for adaptation to climate change, the reduction of marine pollution and for promoting sustainable tourism.
One of the criteria for awarding the Wadden Sea the status as a World Natural Heritage Site is its outstanding value as a hub for the East Atlantic Flyway. According to the latest status report on migratory bird populations along the East-Atlantic Flyway, the populations of breeding birds are in decline in the Wadden Sea region while staging and wintering populations are doing better in general. Breeding birds need more intensive and enhanced protection, especially against predators such as martens, foxes and rats.
In recognition of its outstanding universal value and the progress in conservation and management, UNESCO inscribed the Wadden Sea in its World Heritage List in 2009. The status as World Natural Heritage is the greatest distinction for a nature area and honours its outstanding worldwide value. The Wadden Sea is thus in one league with other World Natural Heritage sites such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon.
Germany holds the Presidency of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation from 2018 to 2022.