Ramsar COP8 - Brief report and photos: day nine

10/12/2002
"Wetlands: water, life, and culture"
8th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties
to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
Valencia, Spain, 18-26 November 2002

Day Nine of the Ramsar COP

On Tuesday, 26 November, the marathon COP finally crawled desperately to an end. The last few of the contentious issues found a consensus of sorts, one way or another, with the adoption of the last of the 46 Resolutions, and the delegates and observers then took time to go the rounds with the regions' expressions of gratitude to the host country, Spain, and to their colleagues in all the Parties and NGOs for having made so successful a triennial meeting possible. An enormous amount of work went into this COP -- not only Bureau and associated staff worked round the clock for two weeks, as expected, but many of the Parties' delegates and NGO representatives basically stayed in the saddle from 8 a.m. till midnight day after day, with plenaries, regional meetings, contact groups, side events, strategy sessions, and what not else. Ramsar COP8 stands as a monument, not only to difficult and painstaking consensus-building on an astonishing range of issues, but also to the stamina of the human body and spirit in adversity.

Thanks. The host country, Spain, and particularly the Ministry for the Environment, the Autonomous Community of Valencia, and the Municipality of Valencia, need to be thanked extravagantly for the generous spirit and energy with which both infrastructure and hospitality were laid on with trowels. From the Bureau's logistical side, Salvador Ruiz and his team from Grupo Publips' of Valencia (right, with the Secretary General) handled the preparations, from office walls to computer networking, with incredible skill and dedication, and Isabelo Valencia and his staff from the Diazotec printing service worked frequently round-the-clock, both at the venue and downtown with an FTP server for high-quantity documents in PDF. The IISD's superb Earth Negotiations Bulletin team, also working round the clock apparently, provided the delegates and observers every morning with a printed analysis of the previous days' results and a candid look at the next days' expectations, with text, photos, and audio clips also posted overnight on their Web site at http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/ramsar/cop8/, where now one can also find a trenchant analysis of the whole COP.

Romania graciously postpones its bid to host Ramsar COP9, in order that the Convention can meet in Africa for the first time.

Ruhakana Rugunda, Minister of Water, Lands and Environment of Uganda, promises his country's hospitality in 2005, as the venue of the next meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, and notes that COP9 will be the first Ramsar meeting to be held in Africa. Uganda has long been a pioneer in putting Ramsar principles into practice, policy, and law.

For Paul Mafabi, Vice-President of the Ramsar Standing Committee, hosting COP9 in Uganda will be the fulfillment of a dream.

Observer State the Seychelles (with ubiquitous Sandra Hails, left), and Germany and Georgia.

The Hungarian delegation

The delegation of Benin

The Secretary General presents Eckhart Kuijken of Belgium, who has participated in all nine meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention, with a certificate as "Ramsar Person of International Importance".


The regions express their thanks to their host and colleagues and sum up their impressions of the results of the COP. Veit Koester of Denmark, dean of Ramsar studies, speaks on behalf of the EU, India on behalf of Asia.

Argentina speaks on behalf of the Neotropical region

Mexico speaks for North America (Dr Komoda, former STRP member, is in the foreground). The Kenyan delegation, including Anderson Koyo (right), former Vice-Chair of the Ramsar Standing Committee, spoke for Africa.

The COP President gets flowers (left); a lengthy policy statement from the NGOs (right).

The French delegation made closing remarks on behalf of francophone countries.

Max Finlayson summing up the COP's results on behalf of the Ramsar Convention's four International Organization Partners (BirdLife, IUCN, Wetlands International, and WWF), with the magically appearing seat sign

The MedWet Coordinator (left), looking (again) like he knows something you don't, and (right) the delegation of Portugal

The Secretary General, Delmar Blasco, ending his 8-year term of office next August, delivers his multilingual valedictory message to the Parties, with challenges.

Everybody applauding the end of the COP

Inès Doncel Gonzalez conveys the host country's wrap on the events

The Secretary General has won the Big Ceramic Thing!

The head table basking (from left): rapporteur, DSG, SG + ceramic thing, Pres, V-Pres, V-Pres.

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin takes much better photos than these are, and here's why. Go see more at http://www.iisd.ca/linkages/ramsar/cop8/.

Earth Negotiations Bulletin Staff: (Left to Right)
Chris (New Zealand), Leila (U.S.A), Charlotte (France), Tamilla (Uzbekistan), Yael (Israel), Brandy (U.S.A.), Leslie (Canada). [Photo: ENB]

And as John O'Sullivan of BirdLife always puts it so elegantly, "See you next time". (photo SC26 2001)


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