Proper management and protection of tropical aquatic ecosystems, or wetlands, are essential for a healthy environment and for the sustainability of resources required by a growing human population. The definition of wetlands, as accepted by the Ramsar Convention and Wetlands International is presented together with a summary of wetlands benefits. The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance is described, including the eight General Objectives of the Convention'sStrategic Plan (1997-2002), and their twenty-eight Operational Objectives, which in turn identify more than 125 specific actions. The focus of this paper is on General Objective 4 and its two Operational Objectives, which focus on training and capacity building for wetlands management by the Contracting Parties to the Convention. The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, its objectives and criteria, is discussed. A summary of wetlands training needs assessments in the Asian region is briefly covered, followed by a proposed development of a Wetlands Training Initiative for Asia. This includes the main elements of a training initiative, potential target groups of a multi-layered and multi-stakeholder training approach, and the need for a Coordination Centre for the Asian Training Initiative.

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