Despite increasing awareness of the importance of wetland ecosystem services and an increase in the number of countries with policies aimed at preventing degradation and destruction of wetlands, effective protection and restoration is often constrained by the limited capacity of governmental and non-governmental organizations responsible for wetland management. This article defines capacity development in terms of the knowledge, skills and attitudes of people, and highlights the levels at which capacity development takes place: Individual, organisational and institutional. Capacity development is presented as a long-term, integrated process of collaborative and experiential learning by all stakeholders. A number of structured steps in the capacity development process is outlined: Assessment, during which gaps in capacity are identified; vision development, which describes the future goal of the capacity development effort; strategy development, which focuses on the specific interventions needed to achieve the vision; action planning and implementation; evaluation of impact, sustainability, relevance and effectiveness; and monitoring of the progress made. The article concludes with some recent examples of wetland capacity development initiatives.