The role of multilateral environmental agreements (MMA) such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Barcelona Convention on the Mediterranean has become increasingly important in conservation management over the past decade, in the context of the growing human impact and the increase in crossings of national borders. With regard to the use of MEAS, it is important to keep a clear view of their chances and limitations. They are a means of solving cross-border problems with neighbouring countries and adopting harmonized approaches, they increasingly provide access to global knowledge, tools and financial resources, and can give national conservation authorities a stronger mandate. But these are specialized tools that focus on certain problems or sectors. The threats they raise and the solutions they have outlined must be assessed against general environmental and socio-economic priorities. This involves links between different problems and sectors at different scales. Regional and ecosystem approaches are best suited to sorting links and priorities. At these levels, there is a need for full capacity building to promote the capacity needed to adopt integrated approaches. In addition, new mechanisms may be needed at these levels to coordinate different specialized systems. This does not require a monolithic top-down approach, but continuous flexibility and responsiveness, which is informed from the bottom up. We should use the new directions put forward at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 and other recent international conferences to integrate these capabilities into international governance.

Conservation managers have an important role to play. Through their national and international work, they can inform and influence the transition to integrated and coordinated efforts and propose ways to achieve this at a broader international level, based on concrete experience on the ground. The main international instruments that enable countries to cooperate on a wide range of global environmental challenges are international conventions and treaties on the environment and natural resources, also known as multilateral environmental agreements (EAs). Previous research has focused on protection under the law of armed conflict (particularly international humanitarian law) and international environmental law with respect to damage to the environment during the war, or whether environmental treaties remain applicable in times of armed conflict.