The Convention’s CEPA Programme


COP9 Side Event on CEPA Action Planning

Models for CEPA Action Planning

A Ramsar COP9 Side Event provided by the Wetlands International Communication, Education and Public Awareness Specialist Group in partnership with the Ramsar Secretariat

Wednesday, 10 November 2005, Kampala, Uganda

Reported by Christine Prietto, CEPA Specialist Group Coordinator


The COP 9 Side Event on CEPA Action Planning featured presentations by Ramsar CEPA Focal Points or their colleagues from different regions who provided advice on how their country has approached the action planning recommended in Resolution VIII.31 (see also here), the Ramsar Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) Programme. Although this recommendation was handed down some 6 years ago, there are still many Contracting Parties that have not engaged in action planning for CEPA. Models for CEPA Action Planning was one of three side events offered under the CEPA in Action banner. The side event attracted over 70 participants.

Contracting Parties were selected to achieve a broad sample of approaches and a range of models. The side event aimed to demonstrate the value of CEPA Action Planning but also to show the pitfalls experienced by some Contracting Parties in developing and implementing a CEPA Action Plan. Presentations aimed to present actual experiences, successful or otherwise. The event also aimed to showcase a range of approaches at different scales rather than a single best model approach.

Presenters (see photos below)

Christine Prietto, NGO CEPA Focal Point, Australia (

Gerhard Sigmund, Government CEPA Focal Point, Austria (

Sergio Lasso, Ramsar National Focal Point, Ecuador (

Luis Chavez, Government CEPA Focal Point, Mexico (

Susana Calvo, Government CEPA Focal Point, Spain (

Fernando Ramos, NGO CEPA Focal Point, Spain (

Nirawan Pipitsombat, Goverment CEPA Focal Point, Thailand (


Presentations in the side event were more extensive than what can be presented here. More information can be obtained from the individual presenters.

In order of presentation:

Thailand has an active CEPA programme but does not intend to have a national CEPA Plan. Instead they havebuilt CEPA into their National Wetland Strategy and into their annual national wetland work plans. At the local level they have integrated CEPA effectively into their site management plans. As such they do not see the need for a separate national CEPA action plan.

Spain released a very comprehensive CEPA Action Plan late in 2005, shortly before COP9 (available here in English and here in Spanish). This plan was four years in the making and involved many people working in the field of CEPA. Spain has a decentralized government, with states having considerable powers. Their plan will be driven at the state level. The presenters noted that the development of the guidance itself was a tremendous learning experience that helped to identify key actors in the country, identify key gaps in CEPA activities, and build an effective CEPA network for the future. The Spanish Plan provides an integrated approach and is very strong on participation. In the Spanish Action Plan, the "P" in CEPA stands for participation, recognising the synergies between the two disciplines.

Austria has a National wetland strategy and is currently working out a major revision of it, entitled "Österreichische Feuchtgebietsstrategie und Aktionsplan 2006 - 2010". A separate CEPA action plan will follow and some of its elements are already included in the National Wetland Strategy. Although Austria is active in this area, getting a CEPA Action Plan in place has proved difficult. Instead they have chosen to build up experiences from projects going on in the country before taking on the national approach that will result in more strategic planning for CEPA. The Wasserleben campaign launched several years ago in partnership with the NGO CEPA FP gathered information on and rewarded the diversity of projects that brought about wetland conservation This proved incredibly valuable in demonstrating where and how CEPA might be used and has helped direct the development of a national AP. Austria expects to have a CEPA action plan at the latest ready for COP 10 in Korea.

Mexico has developed a National CEPA Action strategy that involves setting up a number of regional centres that will play a significant role in the delivery of CEPA for wetlands. In November 2002 the government designated the Centre for Education and Capacity-building for Sustainable Development as the Ramsar CEPA Government FP. Five regional CEPA centres will take the lead in capacity building for environmental management, providing training in CEPA skills as well as more technical aspects of management. Workshops with stakeholders in the regional centres and an excellent number of CEPA publications are supporting the establishment of these centres. To add to this regional strength they have nominated four quite separate NGOs as the NGO Focal Points and they are particularly strong in different areas of the country. Collectively the FPs will play an effective role in CEPA delivery within Mexico. Through the regional centres and the NGO network, CEPA plans will be developed on a regional/local basis.

Ecuador is one of the few countries in Latin America that has taken any action regarding CEPA national action planning. They began work with a preliminary meeting in 2002 and further work in 2003 but their plan is still in progress. However, they have done a lot of work in developing CEPA activities for local delivery such as the environmental education publication for schools that has been published.

Australia was the first country to post its National CEPA Action Plan on the Ramsar website. This was developed over two years through a task force of major NGO's with an interest in wetlands. The plan has three major target actors and aimed to encourage a greater level of coordination in publicising wetlands CEPA activities and greater networking among certain groups, such as those educators who work in wetland centres. The Plan ran for 3 years but has not been updated as yet. Implementing the National Action Plan was dependent on the cooperation of state governments that each hold responsibility for Ramsar sites in their jurisdiction. This arrangement proved to be a constraint to the National CEPA Action Plan. However CEPA activities are widespread and opportunities such as World Wetlands Day result in activities in all states and territories and NGO's continue to be active in CEPA activities.

The stories presented in the CEPA Side Event can only be considered as a sample from member countries. However, several conclusions can be drawn that provide directions for future CEPA guidance.

  • It was clear that the CEPA programme introduced at COP7 and reinforced at COP8 generated responses from member countries. This is encouraging and shows that COP recommendations can and do stimulate action.

  • All presenters provided a clear message that CEPA was regarded as important for wetland conservation in their country. Although the approaches were at different levels, these approaches were evidently chosen to meet local needs and to make use of existing programs and facilities. This reinforces the importance of flexibility in designing the next stage of the Ramsar CEPA programme.

  • Presenters stories show that political arrangements often impact on the processes for appointments of CEPA Focal Points and interaction between government and non-government CEPA Focal Points in different countries is extremely varied. Their accounts reinforced the view that while the Focal Point system has some potential on paper, the implementation is uneven and in many cases NGO Focal Points especially have no capacity to guide activities in their country.

  • In several of the presentations there was a clear movement towards integrating CEPA and management and the growing importance of participation was also evident. These messages provide some important directions for future CEPA planning.

In closing I would like to thank presenters for their contributions and recommend the conclusions to the newly appointed CEPA Oversight Panel for consideration in the development of the next stage of the Ramsar CEPA programme.

Christine Prietto, CEPA SG Coordinator


Photos from the side event
(with thanks to Christine Prietto and Tony Sebastian)

Nirawan Pipitsombat, Government CEPA Focal Point, Thailand


Fernando Ramos, NGO CEPA Focal Point and
Susana Calvo, Government CEPA Focal point, Spain


Gerhard Sigmund, Government CEPA Focal Point, Austria


Luis Chavez, Goverment CEPA Focal Point, Mexico
(see arrow - apologies to Luis for the poor photo!)


Sergio Lasso, Ramsar Administrative Authority
National Focal Point, Ecuador


Christine Prietto, NGO CEPA Focal Point, Australia, and Chair of the
Wetlands International CEPA Specialist Group

The presenters talked to a full house!

Return to the CEPA Programme index page

For further information about the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, please contact the Ramsar Convention Bureau, Rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland (tel +41 22 999 0170, fax +41 22 999 0169, e-mail Posted 9 March 2006 Sandra Hails, Ramsar Secretariat.

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