We started our activities in 1954. In those days, we were called the International Wildfowl Inquiry and our focus was on the protection of waterbirds. Later, our name became International Waterfowl & Wetlands Research Bureau (IWRB). In time, our scope became wider; besides waterbirds, we also started to work on the protection of wetland areas.

Later, organisations with similar objectives emerged in Asia and the Americas: the Asian Wetland Bureau (AWB) (initiated as INTERWADER in 1983) and Wetlands for the Americas (WA) (initiated in 1989). In 1991, these three organisations started to work closely together.

Global organisation

In 1995, the working relation developed into a global organisation now known as Wetlands International.
Wetlands International has played an active role in wetland and waterbird conservation in Ukraine for several years, especially through the International Waterbird Consensus. One of the best first activities of IWRB, Wetlands International’s predecessor, was the organization of an international workshop on Black Sea wetlands in Odessa, Ukraine in 1993. This resulted in publication of Conservation of Black Sea Wetlands: a Review and Preliminary Action Plan.

In the mid 1990s, Wetlands International has assisted in the establishment of the Darwin Wetland Training Centre in Kiev, in close co-ordination with the Ministry for Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety. This centre has conducted training activities, published and distributed newsletters on wetlands and witerbird conservation issues, carries out two workshops on Black Sea wetlands inventory, on management of reedbeds in Danube delta and on policy-making and legislation. The logical and timely follow-up to the development and support provided by the Darwin project was the establishment of a Wetland International Programme Office in Kiev in the autumn of 1997.

Wetlands International today

Wetlands International has currently around 150 members of staff, stationed at our headquarters, 12 national and regional offices and several project offices all over the world.

Specialists and volunteers

Our network of approximately 1000 specialists advise, and help us on different issues. Around 15.000 volunteers help us by providing data through monitoring and counting millions of waterbirds.

Black Sea Region office in Kiev

Our office in Kiev was established in the autumn of 1997. There are five people working in our office. 



Wetlands International is a non-profit, global organisation supported by government and non-governmental organisations from all regions of the world.

Wetlands International is an organisation with government and non-governmental members. About 35 governments are members and their numbers are growing. The Association of Members is made up of delegates of our members, partners, Specialist Group coordinators and Counsellors of Honour. The Association of Members appoints the Board of Directors and approves the strategy of the organization.

The Association of Members appoints a Board of Directors. The members of this Board are at the same time the Supervisory Council. The Supervisory council oversees the implementation of the strategy and appoints the CEO.


The CEO is responsible for the day to day implementation of our Strategy, working together with Heads of Office and a Global Support Team.

Our office is led by Vasiliy Kostyshin.