Organisational Structure

The Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation comprises of two levels of decision making, the Council of Ministers and the Wadden Sea Board.

The Council of Ministers

The Trilateral Wadden Sea Governmental Council gathers the ministers responsible for Wadden Sea affairs from the three countries every three years. At the conference they discuss Wadden Sea matters, and provide political leadership, harmonisation and decision-making between the three governments.

The Wadden Sea Governmental Conferences 

The Council meetings are held within the context of the Wadden Sea Conferences. The Conferences are a forum for stakeholders from the whole Wadden Sea Region aimed to inform policy-making and the Cooperation in its work.

2018 13th Wadden Sea Conference, Leeuwarden, Netherlands

The conference will be held under the Dutch Chairmanship in Leeuwarden, 17-18 May 2018.

The conference programme can be found here


2014 12th Wadden Sea Conference, Toender, Denmark

The conference was held under the Danish Chairmanship in Toender, 4 -6 February 2014.

The conference documents can be found here

2010 11th Wadden Sea Conference Westerland / Sylt

Revised Wadden Sea Plan 2010, Joint Declaration 2010, new Governance Structure.

Download Conference Documents:

Ministerial Council Declaration (in English, Deutsch, Nederlands, Dansk)

Wadden Sea Plan 2010

2010 Joint Declaration on the Protection of the Wadden Sea

2010 Governance Arrangements Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation

Summary Record Ministerial Council

The Conference

The signing of the joint Ministerial Council Declaration by Parliamentary State Secretary Ursula Heinen-Esser of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Germany, chair of the Conference; Karen Ellemann, Minister of Environment, Denmark and Gerda Verburg, Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, the Netherlands concluded a very successful and productive Wadden Sea Conference on the Wadden island of Sylt on 18 March 2010. The Conference was the 11th Trilateral Governmental Conference in the framework of the Dutch-German-Danish cooperation on the protection of the Wadden Sea, the world’s largest tidal barrier island system, since the first Conference in The Hague in 1978.

Signing of the Ministerial Council Declaration on 18 March 2010: Minister Gerda Verburg, State Secretary Ursula Heinen-Esser and Minister Karen Ellemann (from left to right, Photo: Kristine Jung)

A revised Wadden Sea Plan was adopted. The 2010 Wadden Sea Plan updates the trilateral policies and management since the first Wadden Sea Plan was adopted at the 8th Conference in Stade in 1997. The Wadden Sea Plan constitutes the common framework for the protection and sustainable management of the Wadden Sea as an ecological entity. It is also the common management plan for the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site.

In addition to agreements to enhance the international cooperation to protect the migratory birds, for which the Wadden Sea is a key site, climate, sea level rise, coastal protection and alien species were high up on the minister’s agenda. Climate change and its consequences such as enhanced sea level rise, increased temperatures, and increasing sediment deficits will have impacts on the ecology and landscape of the Wadden Sea and may affect the safety of the inhabitants. It was agreed that there is a further need to strengthen the natural processes of the Wadden Sea in order to cope with such changes and to further cooperate in developing common strategies and enhancing the knowledge. For invasive species, which is an issue of concern for all parts of the Wadden Sea, a common approach will also be developed in the coming period.

Shipping safety was again on the agenda. It remains an issue which is of great concern for the region since an accident can have potentially enormous impact, ecologically and economically. It is of the highest priority that safety is kept on a high level and that everything is done to prevent accidents. The ministers agreed to a number of actions in this field including to continue to raise the awareness of the significance of the Wadden Sea amongst the maritime sector.

A highlight of the Conference was the signing of the 2010 Joint Declaration on the Protection of the Wadden Sea in a formal signing ceremony at the Kurhaus in Westerland. The 2010 Joint Declaration replaces the Joint Declaration, signed at the 1982 Wadden Sea Conference in Copenhagen, which had become progressively outdated. It will not alter the spirit or legal status of the Cooperation. This will remain a formal (but not legally binding) Cooperation between the governments of the three countries. In conjunction with the signing of the 2010 Joint Declaration new governance structures will be launched and replace the existing structures. The Trilateral Wadden Sea Board is the governing body of the Cooperation. Peter Ilsøe, Denmark, was appointed by the ministers as the first chairman of the Board.

  Signing of the 2010 Joint Declaration on the Protection of the Wadden Sea on 17 March 2010: Minister Gerda Verburg, State Secretary Ursula Heinen-Esser and Deputy Director General Helle Pilsgaard  (from left to right, Photo: Harald Marencic)  

The Sylt Conference introduced a new element into the Wadden Sea Conference. During the open session of the Conference an interactive discussion with the ministers, stakeholders and guests on “A Vision for the Wadden Sea - Steps to Achievement” was held. The overall objective for this session was to encourage all participants that they have a part to play in achieving the vision for the Wadden Sea. The session was moderated by Dr. Andy Brown who had earlier evaluated the Cooperation and had gained a considerable knowledge of the Cooperation. This session was much appreciated by the participants because it was felt that this was a central function of the Conferences: To obtain the good ideas and commitment of key stakeholders for the protection of the Wadden Sea, and a fruitful continuation of the Wadden Sea Cooperation.

The Sylt Conference was a milestone in the Wadden Sea Cooperation. One of the most productive periods of the cooperation was concluded with a new foundation for the Cooperation and new and pioneering future objectives.

The chair of the Cooperation has been transferred to Denmark for the next three-year period until 2013.

2005 10th Wadden Sea Conference Schiermonnikoog

Decisions on the further development of the Wadden Plan, the nomination of the Wadden Sea as World Heritage, the Wadden Sea Forum report, shipping safety and the International Wadden Sea School (IWSS)

Download Conference Documents:

Ministerial Declaration

Policy Assessment Report English / Danish    

Joint Progress Report (Implementation of the Esbjerg Declaration 2001 and Wadden Sea Plan)

Main Results

Signing of the Schiermonnikoog Ministerial Declaration. From left to right: State Secretary Simone Probst (Germany), Minister Cees Veerman (The Netherlands, chairperson), Deputy Director General Anne-Marie Rassmussen (Denmark).  

The 10th Trilateral Governmental Conference on the Protection of the Wadden Sea was held on the Dutch Wadden Sea island of Schiermonnikoog on 2-3 November 2005 under the chairmanship of the Dutch Minister for Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Cees Veerman. The German and the Danish governments were represented by Parliamentary State Secretary Simone Probst and Deputy Director General Anne-Marie Rasmussen.

The conference made the start with the actual nomination of a major part of the Wadden Sea as World Heritage Site. After the preceding consultations, Germany and The Netherlands will now make a start with the nomination procedure.

A further issue discussed at the meeting was the report of the Wadden Sea Forum installed at the previous conference in Esbjerg in 2001 under the chair of the Queen’s Commissioner of Fryslan Ed Nijpels. The report of the Wadden Sea Forum “Breaking the Ice” was welcomed by the conference and it was decided to continue the work of the Forum in the next period under the chairmanship of the chairman of county council of Ditmarschen, Jürgen Klimant. A primary task of the Forum will be to implement the action plan which it has drawn up on the basis of the strategy encompassed in “Breaking the Ice”.

A key element in the work of the cooperation in the next period is the further development of the Wadden Sea Plan into a management plan in the sense of the Habitats Directive and other directives. This is wholly in line with the intentions of the Joint Declaration 1982 which remains the basis for the cooperation. European Union legislation constitutes the overall main framework for the cooperation and the further development of the Wadden Sea Plan will ensure that this will be carried out in a coordinated way.

Another issue discussed was shipping safety. A package of measures was adopted and agreement was reached to focus on a number of areas in the forthcoming period, such as
emergency towing and pollution response. The International Wadden Sea School will be continued until the next conference. The IWSS was launched on the occasion of the 25 year cooperation in 2003 and has been a successful project to link schools and students from the area for a future sustainable conservation of the Wadden Sea as a shared area.

2001 9th Wadden Sea Conference, Esbjerg

New delimitation of the Wadden Sea Area, PSSA Wadden Sea, Seal Management Plan, World Heritage, Wadden Sea Forum

Download Conference Documents:

Esbjerg Declaration

Policy Assessment Report

The Danish Minister of Environment and Energy, Svend Auken, the Dutch State Secretary of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries, Geke H. Faber (left) and the German Parliamentary State Secretary at the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Gila Altmann (right) signed the Ministerial Declaration of the 9th Trilateral Governmental Conference on the  Protection of the Wadden Sea in Esbjerg, Denmark on October 31, 2001.  

Main Results

The Ministers reinforced, further developed and enhanced their joint cooperation, building upon the Stade Declaration and the Trilateral Wadden Sea Plan. The main issues discussed at the Conference were shipping safety, World Heritage nomination and stakeholder participation.

They decided

to submit an application to the IMO for the designation of the Wadden Sea as PSSA (Particularly Sensitive Sea Area).
to establish a national land based monitoring system for ships based on AIS signals, in accordance with the relevant IMO and EU regulations in the Wadden Sea Area by 2005.
to continue the consultations concerning the Word Heritage Site nomination with a view to finalize them within one to two years.
to convene a Trilateral Wadden Sea Forum as a consultation project with participation of all relevant stakeholders. 

Furthermore they decided 

to adopt a new Seal Management Plan for the period 2002-2006.
to support a follow-up of the Lancewad-Project in the framework of the Interreg IIIB North Sea Program.
to adapt the boundaries of the Wadden Sea Area and Conservation Area.
to further optimize the Trilateral Monitoring and Assessment Program (TMAP).
to submit a common Statement to the 5th Conference on the Protection of the North Sea, Bergen, Norway, March 20-21, 2002. 

1997 8th Wadden Sea Conference, Stade

Adoption of a Trilateral Wadden Sea Plan and a common package of monitoring parameters.


Stade Declaration and Wadden Sea Plan English / Deutsch / Nederlands / Dansk 

1994 7th Wadden Sea Conference, Leeuwarden

Adoption of a common delimitation and common ecological targets. 

Download Conference Documents:

Ministerial Declaration of the 7th Trilateral Governmental Conference on the Protection of the Wadden Sea

Memorandum of Intent
The coastal areas of Guinea Bissau, Africa and the Wadden Sea, Europe. A Joint Intiative of Guinea-Bissau (SETAA and INEP) and the Trilateral Cooperation on the Protection of the Wadden Sea
Assessment Report
The State of the Wadden Sea and the Implementation of the Esbjerg Declaration

1991 6th Wadden Sea Conference, Esbjerg

Adoption of the guiding principle, common management principles and objectives for human use.
Ministerial Declaration of the 6th Trilateral Governmental Conference on the Protection of the Wadden Sea

1988 5th Wadden Sea Conference, Bonn

Adoption of the Agreement on the Protection of Seals.

1985 4th Wadden Sea Conference, The Hague

Decision to establish a common secretariat

1982 3rd Wadden Sea Conference, Copenhagen

Adoption of the Joint Declaration


Joint Declaration Stade 1982

1980 2nd Wadden Sea Conference, Bonn

Coordination of scientific research

1978 1st Wadden Sea Conference, The Hague

Decision to strengthen the cooperation on the protection of the Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea Board

The Wadden Sea Board is the governing body of the Cooperation. It runs and oversees the work of the Cooperation between the Ministerial Council meetings, and prepares, adopts and implements the Strategy for the work of the Cooperation. It appoints Task Groups to prepare and to undertake specific tasks, plans or projects.

The Board is chaired by a senior government official, appointed by the Council. The chair rotates between the countries. There are four members appointed per country and four advisors with expertise and experience relevant to the Cooperation.

The Cooperation has several expert groups to carry out specific monitoring and scientific tasks such birds and seals monitoring, salt marshes and dunes.

Wadden Sea Board Meeting Dates and Documents are available here.

Task and Expert Groups

Task Group Management and Monitoring (TG-MM)
Task Group Climate (TG-C)
Task Group World Heritage (TG-WH)
Task Group Sustainable Tourism Strategy (TG-STS)
Trilateral Data handling Group (TDG)
Trilateral Seal Expert Group (TSEG)
Joint Monitoring Groups Migratory Birds and Breeding Birds (JMMB, JMBB)

The Cooperation also includes an expert network covering saltmarshes, benthos, fish biology, dunes, environmental education and other topics.