Recognizing the importance of waterfowl and wetlands to North Americans and the need for international cooperation to help in the recovery of a shared resource, the U.S. and Canadian governments developed a strategy to restore waterfowl populations through habitat protection, restoration, and enhancement. The strategy was documented in the North American Waterfowl Management Plan signed in 1986 by the Canadian Minister of the Environment and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the foundation partnership upon which hundreds of others would be built. With its update in 1994, Mexico became a signatory to the plan.
The plan is a living and evolving document that is updated periodically with engagement of the broad waterfowl conservation community. NAWMP updates in 1994, 1998 and 2004 described abundant waterfowl populations as the ultimate goal for the Plan, which in turn acted through science-based habitat conservation. A major revision to the Plan completed in 2012, aims to achieve broad consensus on the fundamental goals of waterfowl conservation through stakeholder consultation.