The BBC World Service Witness History broadcasts the story of the origins of the Convention on Wetlands, by the wonderful Eckhart Kuijken, participant in the original signing ceremony, held 50 years ago in Iran.

Iran hosted a meeting to save the world’s wetlands in 1971. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands – named after the village on the Caspian Sea where it was originally signed – is seen as the first of the modem global intergovernmental treaties on the sustainable use of natural resources. Claire Bowes has been speaking to the Belgian representative, Eckhart Kuijken, about the battle by conservationists to interest people and governments in the value of wetlands. He describes how his home country had no planning laws protecting natural landscapes until 1962 – so that many were lost to industry and agriculture.

Listen here.