Culture Working Group work plan 2009-2012
|Jau Reserve, Brazil|
The work plan of the Convention’s Culture Working Group for the period 2009-2012 has been formulated during the first semester of 2009, after an exchange of views between the CWG and the Ramsar Secretariat.
Some of the activities included will be carried out by the members of the CWG and other experts on a voluntary basis. Others will require financial resources for which fundraising has been started.
For the period leading to the 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP11) in 2012 and beyond, a more strategic approach to culture in Ramsar is needed. It is proposed, therefore, that the CWG should develop such a strategy for the gradual incorporation of cultural aspects in the work of the Convention.
The preparation of the strategy will follow a consultative process that will consist of the following steps:
- First draft prepared by the CWG.
- Draft discussed within the Ramsar Secretariat.
- Review of second draft by the Ramsar Culture Network.
- Review of third draft by STRP members.
- Evaluation and endorsement of final draft by the Standing Committee (during its 41st meeting).
The strategy will be structured on the basis of a Logical Framework Analysis and will include objectives and actions, with specific outputs and verifiable indicators. It will also estimate the human and financial resources required, as well as the potential sources of such support.
Systematic implementation of the strategy is expected as soon as it is endorsed by the Standing Committee. A report on the strategy will be presented to COP11 in 2012.
Both Resolutions VIII.19 and IX.21 place considerable emphasis on the need for networking in relation to cultural activities and wetlands. In the past, this was done on an occasional basis. For the period 2009-2012 it is proposed that networking on culture is intensified and promoted on the following two levels:
a) Main partners
A small number of organisations will be selected as key partners on cultural matters of the Ramsar Convention, with which systematic collaboration will be developed through the CWG and with the assistance of the Secretariat, whenever needed. This collaboration should focus on specific activities and should take into account the resources required (both human and financial).
The first such organisation is UNESCO, and especially its World Heritage Convention (WHC) and the International Hydrological Programme. Contacts have already started through:
- participation of the WHC in the Ramsar CWG;
- preparation of a document on ‘World Heritage Convention – Challenges and perspectives: Reflections by the Ramsar Convention’ and participation in the corresponding workshop (Paris, 25-27 February 2009).
The Convention on Biological Diversity may be the second partner, due to its growing interest in cultural matters and its close collaboration with Ramsar on wetland issues. A few other organisations could be added to a very short list, always taking into account costs and benefits, such as ICOMOS (for its commitment to the definition and implementation of cultural landscape criteria within the WHC). Of interest also is the IUCN/WCPA Specialist Group on the Cultural and Spiritual Values of Protected Areas, with which collaboration has already started.
b) The Ramsar Culture Network
A number of local, national and international organisations are approaching Ramsar for guidance on culture and wetlands and for making known their activities in this field. It is proposed, therefore, that they be invited to participate in the Ramsar Culture Network, which would operate as a forum for information and know-how exchange.
The main activities of the Network will be the following:
- Provision of selected information on activities related to culture in wetlands and contribution to the best practice examples (see below).
- Presentation of this information through the CWG website (see section on communication below).
- Contribution to the activities of the CWG, especially through consultation on key documents.
- Dissemination of guidance on culture and wetlands provided by the Ramsar Convention.
- Contribution to events (such as workshops or technical sessions) organised by the CWG.
- Participation in seminars or colloquia organised by CWG partners on topics that can be related to wetlands or during which linkage between wetlands and culture could be promoted.
The Ramsar Culture Network will operate and communicate through electronic means, especially through the Internet and the CWG website.
Best practice examples
A powerful tool for promoting the incorporation of cultural aspects in the management and wise use of wetlands is the broad dissemination of case studies that illustrate best practice and lessons learned and demonstrate the synergy that can be created through a holistic approach to the natural and cultural heritage in wetlands.
The members of the CWG and of the Culture Network will be asked in the second semester of 2009 to identify such case studies and to provide information and contact persons (completing also the Ramsar Matrix for each; see Appendix III, ‘Culture and wetlands: a Ramsar guidance document’).
After (or during) collection, case studies will be classified according either:
- to the type of cultural item involved in wetland wise use (archaeology, architecture, landscape, spiritual heritage, etc.), or
- to the type of cultural values at stake in wise use of wetlands: local community values or universal heritage values, or both.
It could be relevant to demonstrate that various types of cultural approaches could altogether contribute in conserving or managing wetlands.
The information collected will be posted on the CWG website. Resources will be sought and collaboration with a major publisher will be cultivated, so that an international publication from these case studies can be assembled (in the three languages of the Convention).
Analysis from National Reports
Contracting Parties have provided information in their National Reports that may be useful in establishing a broader global picture concerning cultural matters. Thus, a review of the responses to the questions the Parties were asked about implementation of the COP Resolutions and the guidance on culture may result in useful conclusions.
In addition, such a review may provide further leads for case studies, thus contributing to activity above.
The review to be carried out will be mainly qualitative and focus on positive developments reported by the Parties.
The 2008 Ramsar guidance publication has been conceived as a work in progress and as permanent process. During the next three-year period, a number of improvements are required. These concern:
- Further elaboration and refinement of the general and specific objectives included in the current guidance document. Some need to be restructured or clarified, while new ones should be added.
- Proposal of additional actions for the implementation of the objectives in the document and elimination of actions that are not deemed effective.
- Enrichment of the information boxes that illustrate the text.
- Inclusion of best practice case studies that may clarify actions and objectives.
- Addition of a broader selection of photographs.
This work should be completed in 2011, so that the publication can be presented at Ramsar COP11 in 2012. Funds will be required for the editing, translation and production of the publication.
Also during 2011 the feasibility of preparing a Manual on the incorporation of cultural values in wetland management and wise use should be studied in depth. If the results are positive, the Manual should be launched for completion by COP12.
Communication should be a major component of the CWG programme, focusing on promoting an integrated approach to wetlands, including their cultural aspects and values. It will be developed on three levels.
The publications to be produced by the CWG and its partners can be an important communication tool.
The main challenge to be faced, though, is the means of dissemination to a broad interested public. This is an aspect that needs to be taken into account in the design and preparation of each publication. The partners of the CWG and the members of the Ramsar Culture Network will be invited to assist in disseminating selected publications through their own members and networks.
b) Web site
A CWG website will be a key element not only for communication, but also for the operation of the CWG and of the Culture Network. First ideas about the structure of the website are in discussion. Progress, however, has been slow as the main Ramsar website –in which the CWG website is incorporated– has been radically renewed. In addition, some financial resources will be required.
In addition to the CWG site, the feasibility of an intranet for communication among the members of the CWG and of the Culture Network will be studied, as it might constitute a useful tool for the operation of the entire network.
The CWG must undertake the task of organising events on culture and wetlands at appropriate venues. Such events may include the following:
- Tenth Meeting of the Mediterranean Wetlands Committee in Biguglia, Corsica, France in late May 2010.
- Grado+20 Symposium on Mediterranean wetlands (Grado, Italy, April 2011).
- Ramsar Regional Meetings leading to COP11 (presumably in 2011).
- The 5th Asian Wetland Symposium – AWS (presumably in 2012).
- Ramsar COP11 (2012)
In such events, the participation and contribution of partners and members of the Ramsar Culture Network will be sought.
In addition, the CWG must be ready to contribute on culture and wetlands to events organised by its partner organisations (such as UNESCO and CBD).
Support to STRP
Another activity to be carried out by the CWG is the provision of input to assist the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) with relevant activities in its work programme.
This is part of the role for the CWG defined by the mandate it is operating now (under Standing Committee decision SC36-3, mentioned above).
Examples of relevant STRP tasks (included in Resolution X.10) may be:
- 4.3 Ramsar data and information needs.
- 4.4 Describing ecological character.
- 5.1 Wetlands and human health.
- 7.5 Water resources management in dry and sub-humid lands.
- 9.1 Mitigation and compensation for wetland loss.
David Pritchard, member of the CWG, will act as the link with STRP.