Wetlands International


Tax ID:



International Environmental Advocacy Organization




Han de Groot


Wageningen, Gelderland, The Netherlands

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Wetlands International is an environmental organization with a focus on fresh water supplies, shoreline protection, and fishing activities. Founded in 1937 and originally known as the International Wildfowl Inquiry, the organization changed its name in 1954 to the International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Bureau (IWRB). Wetlands International was formed from the merger of several organizations with similar objectives, such as the Asian Wetland Bureau, which was started as “INTERWADER” in 1983, and Wetlands for the Americas. In 1991, those separate organizations began working together, and the result was the formation of Wetlands International, headquartered in the Netherlands, in 1996. 1


Wetlands International receives support from its “government and NGO members.” In 2017, the main sources of income for the organization globally were the Dutch, German, and other governments. Additional funding came from sources such as trusts, foundations, NGOs, and companies. As of the group’s 2017 Review, Wetlands International Ihad 20 offices around the globe, and 11 different specialist groups. 2


Wetlands International works on issues related to wetlands such as fresh water supplies, shoreline protection, wildlife preservation, local economies and fishing activities centered around wetlands, and climate change. 3 As of 2024, its website lists 14 projects. 4


Wetlands International works to raise awareness on the issue of wetlands degradation, restoration, and how the issue relates to climate change. Projects that Wetlands International is currently working on include water management and wetlands preservation in the Sahel region of Africa, preservation of the High Andean Wetlands by changing livestock graving practices and controlling hundreds of hectares, and managing soil subsidence in Indonesia. 5

Climate Change

Wetlands International lists climate change as one of its top issues, partnering with many other organizations on the subject including Caledonian Climate, a Scottish consultancy that works to restore peatlands. 6 Wetlands have been called “carbon sinks” and are therefore important to climate activists. 7

The relationship between climate change activists and wetlands restoration groups such as Wetlands International can be illustrated by a Twitter post from Wetlands International of an article from Carbon Pulse, a group focused on “climate policy,” arguing for international wetlands restoration targets. 8 9


The leadership structure of Wetlands International consists of a Global Management Team, Regional Directors, and Program Directors, among others. The organization has an extensive network of specialists (“associate experts”) and volunteers it relies upon to meet its project objectives. 10 In addition, there is a Supervisory Council that “oversees the implementation of its policies and Strategy” and appoints the Management Board. 11 As of February 2024, the CEO on the Global Management Team is Han de Groot, and the chair of the Supervisory Council is Jan Karel Mak. 12

Former CEO of the Rainforest Alliance Han de Groot is the CEO of Wetlands International’s Global Management Tean has written articles for various publications, including Scientific American, on climate change. 13 De Groot has also worked as executive director of UTZ, (originally Utz Kapeh, meaning “good coffee” in Mayan), a non-profit founded in the Netherlands which certifies “sustainable farming” products and that merged with the Rainforest Alliance in 2017. 14

Jan Karel Mak is the chair of the Supervisory Council. He is the author of Think Like an Engineer, Don’t Act Like One, and an environmental consultant with experience in corporate environmental strategy. 15


  1.  “Our History.” Wetlands International, June 28, 2023.
  2. “Annual Review and Accounts 2017.” Wetlands International, June 28, 2023.
  3. “Annual Review and Accounts 2017.” Wetlands International, June 28, 2023.
  4. “Our Projects.” Wetlands International, October 12, 2023.
  5. “Our Projects.” Wetlands International, October 12, 2023.
  6. Team, Editorial. “Caledonian Climate Forms Groundbreaking Alliance with Wetlands International to Confront Climate Crisis.” Scottish Business News, October 16, 2023.
  7.  “World Wetlands Day: 5 Things to Know about These Carbon Sinks.” World Economic Forum. Accessed March 11, 2024.
  8. International, Wetlands. “Researchers Pitch Global Targets for Wetlands Conservation.” Twitter, January 15, 2024.
  9. Cox, Thomas. “Researchers Pitch Global Targets for Wetlands Conservation ” Carbon Pulse.” Carbon Pulse. Accessed March 11, 2024.
  10. “Our Team.” Wetlands International, December 22, 2023.
  11. “Governance.” Wetlands International, October 12, 2023.
  12.  “Governance.” Wetlands International, October 12, 2023.
  13.  Groot, Han de. “Stories by Han de Groot.” Scientific American. Accessed March 11, 2024.
  14. [1] De Groot, H. 2024. “’Together Rainforest Alliance and UTZ Will Be a More Powerful Force.” January 5, 2024.
  15. Wetlandsglobal. “Wetlands International Welcomes New Supervisory Council Chair and Members.” Wetlands International, June 28, 2023.
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