The 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
Some news and photographs from COP10
Ramsar COP10 getting started now. The preparations are nearly complete and the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties is getting started now -- literally "now", as Mr Lee Myung-pak, President of the Republic of Korea, is welcoming the participants just one floor up right this moment and opening an event that the Korean press is calling the "Environment Olympics". The Ramsar Standing Committee held its 38th meeting yesterday and has now transformed itself into the "Conference Committee" for the next week or so, and all today the Parties have been meeting in regional caucuses. At the Opening Ceremony this evening, participants are being treated to a video message from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, and live addresses from Korea's Minister of Environment, Minister of Land, Transport, and Maritime Affairs, and the Governor of Gyeongnam Province, Ramsar's Secretary General, the Director General of IUCN, a representative of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Executive Director of UNEP, with some songs performed by the "Little Angels" children's choir. Following all which, the winners of the 2008 Ramsar Conservation Awards are receiving their honors and there is a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Danone-Evian Intiative partnership in support of the Convention. And that's to be followed by a Welcoming Dinner for everyone here in the convention centre. Here's a page of photographs of the early stages today and the cultural festival taking place outside. [28/10/08]
Ramsar COP10 first plenary sessions. Wednesday, 29 October, opened with the first plenary sessions, and the participants got through the standard COP business of approving the agenda and the Rules of Procedure, admitting observers, appointing committees, and electing the COP officers -- the COP elected as its President Mr Maanee Lee, Minister of Environment of Korea, and as Alternate President Mr Kim, Director General of the Ministry of Environment of Korea. Mr Patrick van Klaveren of Monaco for Europe and Ms Rejoice Mabudafhasi of the Republic of South Africa representing Africa were chosen as Vice-Presidents. Then a round of progress reports got underway, from the Standing Committee Chair, a representative of the World Wetlands NGO conference, the Chair of the Scientific and Technical Review Committee (STRP, left), and the Secretary General. Tomorrow picks up with issues arising from Resolutions of past COPs, specifically in this case the evolution of the Transboundary Ramsar Sites initiative and the legal status of the Secretariat. Here's a page of photographs of the first plenary and a demonstration against "reclamation" just outside the venue. [29/10/08]
COP10's second full day. On the second full day of deliberations, ever so slightly behind in the agenda already, the Parties tucked into the issues left outstanding from previous COP meetings, deciding not to pursue at this meeting the question of the unadopted COP9 draft Resolution on Transboundary Ramsar Sites and setting up a contact group to study further the matter of the legal status of the Ramsar Secretariat. Parties urged a number of refinements to the draft Strategic Plan 2009-2014, which will be issued in a Rev. 1 tomorrow, and then received a financial report from theUSA (left), Chair of the Standing Committee on Finance, before naming a Committee on Finance for COP10 and charging that group with debating a number of proposed options for the Convention's core budget for the period until COP11 in 2012. The participants also got to see a previews of the forthcoming DisneyNature film The Crimson Wing about the Lake Natron Ramsar site in Tanzania. Initial debates on the 32 draft Resolutions confronting the meeting will begin tomorrow, 31 October. Today we have a page of photos of some plenary discussions, the amazing traditional arts festival taking place outside all this week, and some of the imaginative but highly decorous demonstrations that are enlivening the grounds outside the convention centre virtually non-stop. Not only that -- we also have a page of snaps of some of the exhibitions that have been mounted here in the centre as well as some more taking place in the Green Growth Exhibition just next door, including the children's art exhibit. Visit the Earth Negotiations Bulletin for details and analysis of the day's doings. [30/10/08]
Ramsar COP10 enters history. The 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties drew to a happy conclusion on 4 November in Changwon, Korea, and now we’re left to sort it all out. Thirty-two of the 33 draft Resolutions were adopted in one form or another, some easily, some with ad hoc contact groups spilling out into the lobby right to the last minute. A budget got passed for the next triennium, a lot of STRP guidance on various matters got adopted, and the Changwon Declaration, a sort of blueprint for the future of wetlands, intended to sensitize readers in other sectors on the importance of wetland wise use for their work as well, got an enthusiastic send-off. Nearly a gazillion side events brought people together to learn about wetland-related initiatives and organizations all over the world, and the exhibition hall provided a short course in current wetland activities globally, and especially in Asia. The COP participants luxuriated in a perfect bath of Korean hospitality, with several dinners with entertainment, excursions to nearby sites of interest, a brilliant festival of traditional Korean culture going on outside all week, and the helpful, ready smiles of countless Korean volunteers.
Most of the Secretariat staff are presently convalescing after the past year’s COP deadlines and the round-the-clock COP itself, but later in November we’ll settle down to finalizing and harmonizing the latest revisions to the draft Resolutions and preparing to publish the official Proceedings of the COP, which will appear on the Ramsar Web site and on CD-ROM hopefully by the end of the year. In the meantime, here is one more page of photographs from the final days of the COP, snapped off hastily amid the deluge of document revisions raining down upon us throughout. [08/11/08]
Some photos of COP10