Ramsar and the Small Island Developing States
A special publication for the worlds Small Island Developing States
An introductory note
On World Wetland Day 1998 the Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands is pleased to announce the release of its latest special publication. Entitled "Why your country should join the Convention on Wetlands", this short publication has been prepared specifically for the people of the worlds small island countries.
At the Ramsar Conference in Brisbane, Australia, in 1996 the Convention adopted its Strategic Plan. Under Objective 1 of the Plan - "To progress towards universal membership of the Convention" - it was noted that very few of the small island states were Contracting Parties. This situation continues today despite the growth of the Convention to 106 Contracting Parties.
The Ramsar Strategic Plan states that "a special effort will be made to encourage Small Island Developing States to join, in recognition of their special needs and significant wetlands, including coral reefs, sea-grass beds and mangroves." In response to this statement, the Bureau has prepared with the assistance of Roger Jaensch (Wetlands International - Oceania Office) a four-page question and answer format publication which explains the benefits which Small Island Developing States can gain from becoming a signatory to the Convention. Presently available only in English, the publication will be translated into French and Spanish in the near future and distributed widely among these countries.
One small island state which has joined the Convention is Trinidad and Tobago, and the Bureau is pleased to be able to present, as a companion to its special publication on Small Island Developing States, a report on implementation of the Convention in that country recently completed by Dave Pritchard of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. A short extract from the Bureau's preface to the report gives a sense of how valuable this report will be to all countries, but especially to those small island states considering accession to the Convention on Wetlands.
'In the few years since joining the Ramsar Convention (April 1993), Trinidad and Tobago has been a lesson in proactivity which many other countries could learn from, and especially the other small island states. Dave Pritchard uses the words "enthusiasm" and "courageous" several times to describe the actions of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and this is well justified. He also notes that they have "set a commendable example in a short space of time by making full use of some of the main measures which Ramsar participation offers: regional and international collaboration, a National Wetland Committee, a National Wetland Policy, the Montreux Record, the Management Guidance Procedure and the Small Grants Fund." Need I say more?'