How does Ramsar collaborate with other MEAs?
The benefits of coordination and collaboration amongst Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs), conventions and international organizations with related or overlapping missions have been widely recognized for some time. The Ramsar Secretariat has devoted a great deal of effort to developing synergies with other environment-related instruments, and continues to do so. In some cases, follow-up assessments of the tangible progress of these relationships have shown that the initiative has been well worth it to all parties concerned. Similarly, the Secretariat has been taking vigorous steps to encourage Ramsar's "Administrative Authorities" to build close working relationships with their counterparts for the other conventions at national level.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
In January 1996, the secretariats of the Ramsar Convention and the CBD signed a first Memorandum of Cooperation, and in November of that year, the CBD's COP3 invited Ramsar "to cooperate as a lead partner" in implementing CBD activities related to wetlands. Accordingly a Joint Work Plan 1998-1999 between the two conventions was developed and implemented, and then a second Joint Work Plan was successfully carried out for the period 2000-2001 – presently a third Joint Work Plan, for the period 2002-2006, endorsed by the 6th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity, April 2002, and by Ramsar COP8 in November 2002, is continuing to provide a blueprint for mutual cooperation between the conventions, and a fourth JWP, for 2007 onwards, is in preparation. The Conferences of the Parties of both conventions have also called for increased communication and cooperation between their subsidiary scientific bodies, the CBD's Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical, and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) and the Ramsar Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), and members of both of these bodies regularly participate in the work and meetings of one another.
The Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
The Ramsar Secretariat and the CMS Secretariat first signed a Memorandum of Understanding in February 1997. It seeks to ensure cooperation between the two secretariats in the fields of joint promotion of the two conventions; joint conservation action; data collection, storage and analysis; and new agreements on migratory species, including endangered migratory species and species with an unfavorable conservation status. Some concrete results of this relationship have already been observed, particularly with regards to coordinated work between Ramsar and the CMS's African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA). A three-way joint work plan between the secretariats of the CMS, AEWA, and the Ramsar Convention was signed in April 2004.
UNESCO World Heritage Convention
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Ramsar Secretariat and the World Heritage Centre in May 1999. The Ramsar Secretariat and the World Heritage officer in charge of natural sites maintain a close working relationship with a view to:
• reviewing reporting formats and coordinating the reporting about shared sites;
• contributing to both conventions' training efforts;
• coordinating fundraising initiatives concerning shared sites;
• and encouraging the establishment of joint national committees.
United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
Wetlands are crucially important everywhere, and even more so in arid lands. Thus the Ramsar Secretariat was present at the first UNCCD Conference of the Parties in October 1997, where it distributed to the delegates an information document on "Wetlands in Arid Zones". In December 1998, during the second UNCCD Conference of the Parties in Dakar, the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention and the Executive Secretary of the CCD signed a Memorandum of Cooperation between the secretariats to help to increase communication between them, coordinate efforts, and avoid duplication. Practical cooperation between the secretariats has been developing only slowly so far, however.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
In preparation for UNFCCC COP5, the Ramsar Secretariat commissioned IUCN to prepare a technical document entitled "Wetlands and Climate Change: exploring collaboration between the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change". The paper was translated into the six UN official languages and distributed to the UNFCCC's Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and to delegates to its COP5.
As a result SBSTA "requested the secretariat [of UNFCCC] to liaise with the secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands on the specific issues identified in the oral report delivered by the representative of that secretariat in order to determine how cooperation between the conventions could be strengthened. The SBSTA requested the secretariat to report back to it on this matter at its twelfth session." The Ramsar Secretariat is working with the UNFCCC secretariat to prepare an official document for submission to SBSTA and to an upcoming UNFCCC Conference of the Parties. In Resolution VIII.3 (2002), the Conference of the Parties requested the Ramsar STRP to work further with the UNFCCC and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the relationships between wetlands and climate change.
Regional conventions and basin commissions
The Ramsar Secretariat has also effected Memoranda of Cooperation with UNEP's Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention), first signed in May 2000 and a new version concluded in June 2005, and with the Coordinating Unit of the Mediterranean Action Plan of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention), first signed in February 2001, with a newly-agreed MoC signed in February 2006. An MOC was signed with the Convention on the protection and sustainable development of the Carpathians (Carpathian Convention) in December 2006. The South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) is a partner with the Ramsar Convention under a Joint Work Plan that began in 2002 and now includes the basing at SPREP offices in Samoa of a Ramsar Officer for the Oceania region, and the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) cooperates under the terms of an agreement first signed in November 2000. Furthermore, the Ramsar Convention is closely involved in the work of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the Niger Basin Authority, with both of which the Ramsar Secretariat has memoranda of cooperation signed in November 2002, and a new agreement has been concluded with the Commission Internationale du Bassin Congo-Ougangui-Sang (CICOS) in March 2006.
Other close relationships with official bodies
In addition, Ramsar works closely with the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme under the terms of a joint programme of work first agreed in 2002, and has a new cooperative agreement, February 2006, with the European Environment Agency. An agreement was signed with the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS) in June 2006, and the Secretariat has been working very closely with the European Space Agency on its GlobWetland project, which is developing monitoring and management tools based on earth observation data in a pilot project involving fifty Ramsar sites around the world. A great deal of collaboration has occurred recently between Ramsar and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and cooperative agreements are under discussion with both FAO and UNITAR.
Coordination among conventions
The Ramsar Secretariat participates in the conventions' coordinating meetings organized by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and has welcomed the tendency of these meetings to focus less on purely administrative matters and more upon substantive coordination issues. The Ramsar Secretariat has contributed staff time and financial resources to joint working groups and studies aimed at harmonizing the requirements of the biodiversity-related conventions, as for example a study carried out by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) on the feasibility of harmonizing reporting requirements under the different instruments, and participates in UNEP's Environmental Management Group (EMG).
A decision by the UNFCCC's COP8 (2002) invited the Ramsar Convention to participate in the work of the Joint Liaison Group (JLG) of the "Rio Conventions", UNFCCC, the CBD, and UNCCD. In addition, the five biodiversity-related conventions – the CBD, CITES, CMS, Ramsar, and World Heritage – have a Joint Web site hosted by the CBD secretariat, initiated in March 1999, and the Ramsar Convention participates actively as a full member of the Biodiversity Liaison Group (BLG), which is composed of those five conventions.