What is the role of National Ramsar Committees?
Recommendation 5.7 of the COP and the Strategic Plan encourage Contracting Parties to establish National Ramsar Committees (or National Wetland Committees) which can:
- provide a broader focus at national level for the implementation of the Convention, involving relevant government agencies, scientific and technical institutions, regional and local authorities, local communities, NGOs, and the private sector, to deal with such issues as:
-- national wetland policies,
-- management of Ramsar sites,
-- application of the Montreux Record and Ramsar Advisory Mission mechanisms,
-- inclusion of new sites in the Ramsar List, and
-- submissions to the Ramsar Small Grants Fund.
In addition, National Committees may:
- provide expert input to National Reports for meetings of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, and
- review implementation of Resolutions and Recommendations adopted by the Conference of the Contracting Parties.
Most importantly, National Ramsar or Wetland Committees provide a mechanism for spreading the Convention’s approach to wetland and water issues beyond the individuals and branches of government that are officially charged with its implementation. Ideally, National Committees should include as many sectors of government and representatives of stakeholders as possible.
A large number of Contracting Parties have already established National Ramsar Committees, though they vary considerably in form from one country to another. For example, some committees consist of representatives of several relevant government agencies and appropriate non-governmental organizations, sometimes also including academics and other individuals with relevant expertise, whilst others may be organized as governmental committees (including regional governments in federal States) or as essentially non-governmental advisory bodies.
The Web site of the USA's National Ramsar Committee provides a useful model of an NRC composed largely of NGOs. News of Austria's National Ramsar Committee, which has been coordinating government implementation at the federal and state levels for nearly twenty years, can be followed closely on the Ramsar Web site.