The fifth conference of the European Pond Conservation Network (Luxembourg, June 2012) brought together researchers, environmental managers, and other stakeholders with the aim to share state-of-the-art knowledge on the ecology, management, and conservation of ponds in the context of the many challenges facing the wider water environment. Although well-known ecological patterns apply to most ponds in Europe and elsewhere, recent data highlight that part of the environmental variables governing pond biodiversity remain specific to climatic/biogeographic regions and to elevation ranges, suggesting that, in addition to common practice, management plans should include range-specific measures. Beyond the contribution of individual ponds to the aquatic and terrestrial life, connected networks of ponds are vital in the provision of new climate space as a response to global climate change, by allowing the observed northward and/or upward movements of species. In terms of services, ponds offer sustainable solutions to key issues of water management and climate change such as nutrient retention, rainfall interception, or carbon sequestration. While the ecological role of ponds is now well-established, authoritative research-based advice remains needed to inform future direction in the conservation of small water bodies and to further bridge the gap between science and practice.