The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) is an intergovernmental treaty dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds and their habitats across Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, Greenland and the Canadian Archipelago.

Developed under the framework of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), AEWA brings together countries and the wider international conservation community in an effort to establish coordinated conservation and management of migratory waterbirds throughout their entire migratory range.


Visit the general introduction leaflet on AEWA

Species Covered by AEWA

AEWA covers 255 species of birds ecologically dependent on wetlands for at least part of their annual cycle, including many species of divers, grebes, pelicans, cormorants, herons, storks, rails, ibises, spoonbills, flamingos, ducks, swans, geese, cranes, waders, gulls, terns, tropic birds, auks, frigate birds and even the south African penguin.

All AEWA species cross international boundaries during their migrations and require good quality habitat for breeding as well as a network of suitable sites to support their annual journeys. International cooperation across their entire migratory range, as provided by AEWA, is therefore essential for the conservation and management of migratory waterbird populations and the habitats on which they depend.

AEWA Agreement area

Agreement Area, Range States and Contracting Parties

The Agreement area stretches from the northern reaches of Canada and the Russian Federation to the southernmost tip of Africa, covering 119 Range States from Europe, parts of Asia and Canada, the Middle East and Africa. Currently 80 countries and the European Union (EU) have become a Contracting Party to AEWA (as of 1 July 2020). The Agreement provides for coordinated and concerted action to be taken by the Range States throughout the migration system of waterbirds to which it applies.


The Structure of AEWA

The Agreement has three main bodies: the Meeting of the Parties (MOP), which is the governing body of AEWA, the Standing Committee (StC) and Technical Committee (TC), respectively responsible for steering the operations between sessions of the MOP and for providing scientific advice. The UNEP/AEWA Secretariat supports the Parties and services the bodies of the Agreement.

The latest, seventh Session of the Meeting of the Parties took place from 4-8 December 2018 in Durban, South Africa. For more information on MOP7 click here.

The AEWA Action Plan

Major Global Flyways

The core activities carried out under AEWA are described in its Action Plan, which is legally binding for all countries that have joined the Agreement. The AEWA Action Plan specifies different measures to be undertaken by Contracting Parties to warrant the conservation of migratory waterbirds within their national boundaries. These include species and habitat protection and the management of human activities as well as legal and emergency measures. Research and monitoring, education, awareness-raising and capacity building are also essential tasks for the implementation of the Agreement. In addition, special protective measures are to be implemented for those waterbird populations of particular conservation concern, listed in Column A of the Action Plan.


Title Status Year of accession Region
Chad Contracting Party 2011 Africa
Comoros Non-Party Range State Africa
Congo Contracting Party 1999 Africa
Côte d'Ivoire Contracting Party 2013 Africa
Croatia Contracting Party 2000 Europe
Cyprus Contracting Party 2008 Europe
Czech Republic Contracting Party 2006 Europe
Democratic Republic of the Congo Non-Party Range State Africa
Denmark Contracting Party 2000 Europe
Djibouti Contracting Party 2004 Africa
Egypt Contracting Party 1999 Africa
Equatorial Guinea Contracting Party 2003 Africa
Eritrea Non-Party Range State Africa
Estonia Contracting Party 2008 Europe
Eswatini Contracting Party 2013 Africa
Ethiopia Contracting Party 2010 Africa
European Union Contracting Party 2005 Europe
Finland Contracting Party 2000 Europe
France Contracting Party 2003 Europe
Gabon Contracting Party 2012 Africa
Instrument nameAgreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds
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Past Depositary notifications 

SignatureFinal Act signed in The Hague on 16 June 1995. Opened for signature at The Hague from 15 August 1996 until entry into force of the Agreement
Actually in effect
OtherA Technical Committee, comprised of experts appointed on a regional basis as well as representatives of relevant non-governmental organizations, was established at the 1st Session of the Meeting of the Parties. The 2nd Session of the Meeting of the Parties established a Standing Committee. This Committee consists of one representative of each of the following regions: Europe and Central Asia, Middle East and Northern Africa, Western and Central Africa and Eastern and Southern Africa. In addition, a representative of the Depositary and the host country for future Meetings of the Parties are members of the Standing Committee.
PDF icon Agreement Text and Annexes720.11 KB

25th Anniversary of AEWA