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Our History

Wetlands International Malaysia has been working on the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands for over 30 years. Wetlands International Malaysia has a long tradition of supporting policies and practices for the wise use of wetlands.

In 1983, Interwader was set up to study the distribution and concentration of migratory shorebirds that fly along the East Asia-Australasian Flyway. The work was focused on Southeast Asia and has contributed greatly to improving our knowledge and identifying internationally important sites.

Interwader was eventually restructured and renamed the Asian Wetland Bureau (AWB) with its operating office in the University of Malaya (UM), where in 1987 it was officially launched at the Conference on Wetland and Waterfowl Conservation in Malacca, Malaysia. Its scope was expanded to include the study of inland and coastal wetlands.

Organisations with similar objectives emerged in Europe and the Americas: the International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Bureau (IWRB) formed in 1954, and Wetlands for the Americas (WA) formed in 1989. These three organisations started to work closely together in 1991.

In October 1995, AWB co-organized the International Conference on Wetlands and Development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with IWRM and WA. At the conference, the three organisations agreed to merge into a new global organization which adopted the name Wetlands International. The conference was officiated by our then Prime Minister, Y.A.B. Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, as a new global organisation to sustain wetlands and their resources around the world for the benefit of present and future generations.

In 1996, Wetlands International established its headquarters in the Netherlands.