The 9th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties


"Wetlands and water: supporting life, sustaining livelihoods"
9th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties
to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
Kampala, Uganda, 8-15 November 2005
Agenda item XV
Ramsar COP9 DR 12

Revised modus operandi of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP)

Explanatory Note by the Secretariat

1. At COP8 Contracting Parties adopted a revised modus operandi of the STRP (Resolution VIII.28), which was designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Panel.

2. At its 12th meeting, in March 2005, the STRP undertook an in-depth review of its operations under the COP8 modus operandi and identified a significant number of limitations and bottle-necks, which were reported to the 31st meeting of the Standing Committee in DOC. SC31-25. The STRP concluded that the 2003-2005 modus operandi had not been successful in solving some of the key operational problems that it had been designed to address.

3. A consequence has been that the delivery of the substantive work required of the Panel during 2003-2005 for COP9 consideration was left to a small number of STRP experts (including some appointed members and representatives of STRP observer organizations).

4. In the light of STRP12's review, the Secretariat, working with the STRP Chair and Vice-Chair, prepared proposals for further revisions to the modus operandi for consideration by the 31st meeting of the Standing Committee, which were designed to minimize the impact of the lack of contribution by a significant proportion of appointed members. These proposals did not cover amendments to the appointment process for regionally-appointed members established by COP7 Resolution VIII.2.

5. However, a number of Standing Committee members expressed the view during the 31st meeting that the current STRP membership model, which is linked to the structure of the Standing Committee since COP7, had not worked to the benefit of the Convention, and that a restructuring of the selection process and composition of the Panel was now needed so as better to draw on the best expertise from wherever it is available. Such a restructuring would also have the potential for more efficient use of the limited core budget resources available to the Panel, in order to deliver the priority tasks allocated to it more effectively.

6. SC31 established an ad hoc Subgroup on the STRP to agree a revised proposal for the modus operandi for COP9 consideration, its members being the Chair and Vice-Chair of the SC, the Chairs of its Subgroups on COP9, Finance and Resolution VIII.45, the Chair of STRP, and the Deputy Secretary General.

7. The attached Annex to COP9 DR12 provides this revised proposal, which is designed to ensure that members appointed to the STRP have globally-recognized experience, expertise and networks on the wetland conservation and wise use topics directly relevant to the 2006-2008 priorities for STRP's work identified in Annex 1 to COP9 DR2.

8. This revised modus operandi also addresses ways and means of continuing to ensure nationally and regionally equitable input to the work of the STRP, and also of strengthening the regional applicability of the outputs of the Panel's work.

9. The revised modus operandi has also been designed to address another of the serious bottlenecks identified by the STRP12's review - that of delays under the current modus operandi to the start of the Panel's substantive work during each triennium, which has led to a severely restricted time-period available to the Panel in the triennium for the completion of its tasks and products in time for their consideration by the next COP. Under the revised modus operandi, the Panel and its Working Groups will be able to start their work very early in 2006, approximately seven months earlier than would have been the case under the 2003-2005 modus operandi. This is because under the former modus operandi the Panel would not be able to meet for the first time until July/August 2006, following the appointment of STRP members by the 34th meeting of the Standing Committee in April 2006.

10. In order to permit the proposed STRP Oversight Committee to appoint the STRP members, and to permit the Panel and its Working Groups to start their work as early as possible in the 2006-2008 triennium, nominations of candidates for appointment will need to have been made before the end of the current triennium. Accordingly, a first call for nominations for STRP members for the 2006-2008 triennium is being issued in August 2005, with a closing date for nominations of 30 October 2005.


Revised modus operandi of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel

1. RECALLING the establishment by Resolution 5.5 of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), to be made up of members with appropriate scientific and technical knowledge, appointed by the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP), but participating as individuals and not as representatives of their countries of origin;

2. ALSO RECALLING Resolution VI.7 and Resolution VII.2 on this matter, which made successive modifications in the way in which the STRP and its work were organized;

3. FURTHER RECALLING Resolution VIII.28 which established the STRP's modus operandi implemented during the 2003-2005 triennium;

4. THANKING members of the STRP and its observer organizations and invited experts for their contributions since COP8, and for their expert advice on numerous scientific and technical issues important for implementation of the Convention, including the new and revised guidelines and reports provided to this meeting of the Conference as the Annexes to [COP9 DR1] and others being prepared as Ramsar Technical Reports;

5. ALSO THANKING the Government of Sweden, WWF International, IUCN, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (with funds from the United Nations University) and the WorldFish Centre for their financial contributions in support of the substantive work of the STRP during 2003-2005, and the Water Research Commission (South Africa), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), BirdLife International, Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC - UK), the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources, and the Environmental Research Institute of the Supervising Scientist (eriss - Australia) for their in-kind support to the work of the Panel, as well as Wetlands International staff for their implementation of the STRP Support Service during the 2003-2005 triennium;

6. AWARE that the STRP has reviewed its modus operandi, has expressed grave concern about aspects of its operations and its capacity and resourcing to deliver all of its required tasks, and has made a number of proposals for amending its modus operandi designed to enhance its capacity and efficiency; and ALSO AWARE that the Standing Committee at its 31st meeting recognized these concerns in relation to the structure and process of the STRP as constraining the Panel in delivering its work in an efficient and timely manner;

7. RE-EMPHASIZING the need to establish a close link between the STRP and the network of scientists and experts in each Contracting Party, so that the Convention may benefit from the array of existing knowledge and experience;

8. RECOGNIZING the importance for the STRP to work in partnership with the scientific and technical bodies of those conventions and programmes with which Memoranda of Cooperation and/or joint work plans are in place, namely the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on Migratory Species, and the Convention to Combat Desertification, the World Heritage Convention, the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme, and other conventions and agreements;

9. ALSO RECOGNIZING the need for continuing cooperation between the STRP and a number of expert networks, specialist groups and societies which exist, some in association with the official International Organization Partners of the Convention; and

[10. FURTHER RECOGNIZING that the immediate and high priorities for the work of the STRP for 2006-2008 are identified in Annex 1 to COP9 DR2;]


11. REAFFIRMS the critical importance to the Convention of the work and advice of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) in providing reliable guidance to the Conference of the Contracting Parties for the Parties' implementation of the Convention;

12. APPROVES the revised modus operandi for the STRP as annexed to this Resolution;

13. ESTABLISHES an STRP Oversight Committee, reporting to the Standing Committee and comprising the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee, the Chair and Vice-Chair of the STRP, and the Secretary General and Deputy Secretary General, to deliver the responsibilities set out in the Annex to this Resolution;

14. CONFIRMS that the STRP support functions will be provided during the 2006-2008 triennium from the Ramsar Secretariat;

15. RECOGNIZES the urgent need to ensure both that the Panel is provided with the necessary resources to undertake its work effectively and that the Ramsar Secretariat has sufficient capacity to support this work, and URGES Contracting Parties and others to contribute to securing continuity of such funding;

16. ALSO RECOGNIZES that a high priority for 2006-2008 is to develop the involvement and capacity of the STRP National Focal Point network to contribute to the work of the Panel, and URGES those Contracting Parties that have not yet done so to appoint a National Focal Point for the STRP, as outlined in Resolution VII.2, so that all Parties may contribute fully to, and be more effectively assisted by, the work of the Panel;

17. REVISES as follows the list of bodies and organizations invited to participate as observers in the meetings of the STRP during the 2006-2008 triennium, and INVITES these bodies and organizations to consider establishing close working cooperative arrangements with the STRP on matters of common interest:

  • the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • the Scientific Council of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)
  • the Committee on Science and Technology of the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
  • the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technical Advice of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  • the Secretariats of the CBD, CMS, CITES, UNCCD, UNFCCC, the World Heritage Convention and UNESCO - Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB)
  • the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
  • the UNEP - World Conservation Monitoring Centre
  • The World Health Organization (WHO)
  • the Society of Wetland Scientists
  • the International Mire Conservation Group
  • the International Peat Society
  • the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA)
  • the International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
  • The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
  • Ducks Unlimited (Canada, Mexico, and USA)
  • the Institute for Inland Water Management and Wastewater Treatment (RIZA) (The Netherlands)
  • the Global Water Partnership (GWP)
  • the World Water Council (WWC)

18. FURTHER EMPHASIZES the value of participation by STRP members in meetings of the COP and Standing Committee, and REQUESTS Contracting Parties, the Standing Committee, and the Ramsar Secretariat to seek to secure any additional funding which might be necessary for this purpose.


Revised modus operandi of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP)

(Note. See Figure 1 for a graphical summary of the STRP schedule and process for the 2006-2008 triennium)

I. Key objective of the revised STRP modus operandi

1. The key objective of this modus operandi is to establish ways and means of ensuring that the STRP mechanism delivers the best available global scientific and technical advice to the Convention, in the most effective and cost-efficient manner, through the work of globally-recognized wetland conservation and wise use experts and their networks.

II. Establishment and responsibilities of the STRP Oversight Committee

2. The STRP Oversight Committee will report to the Standing Committee and will be composed of the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee, the Chair and Vice-Chair of the STRP, and the Secretary General and the Deputy Secretary General.

3. The responsibilities of the STRP Oversight Committee are to:

i. appoint the members, Chair and Vice-Chair of the STRP;
ii. provide intersessional advice, guidance and support to the operations and work of the Panel; and
iii. keep under review, and advise the Standing Committee on, the anticipated gains in efficiency and effectiveness of the Panel operating under this revised modus operandi.

4. The Standing Committee continues to have overall responsibility for the work of the STRP, and the Chair of the STRP will report to each Standing Committee meeting on progress with the STRP programme of work and priorities as established by the COP and Standing Committee ([COP9 DR2] for the 2006-2008 triennium).

III. Criteria and characteristics of candidate STRP members

5. Candidates for appointment as members of the STRP must have the following:

i. demonstrated globally-recognized experience and expertise in one or more aspects of wetland conservation and wise use relevant to the priority work areas and tasks identified by the COP for the forthcoming work of the Panel;

ii. access to networks of wetland conservation and wise use experts at local, national and international scales [note 1];

iii. full access to electronic mail and Web-based communication systems, through which the intersessional work of the Panel will take place;

iv. fluency in understanding, and written and oral communication in, English (which will remain the working language of the Panel); and

v. ability to commit the necessary time to undertake the work required of the Panel and its Working Groups with the support, where relevant, of the member's organization or institution.

IV. Composition of the Panel

6. So as to ensure that globally-recognized expertise is available within the Panel for the scientific and technical thematic work areas, two experts will be appointed for each of the following thematic work areas (to reflect the scope and priorities identified for the Panel's 2006-2008 work in [COP9 DR2]). These are:

i. wetland inventory and assessment, including indicators;
ii. wise use and ecological character;
iii. water resource management;
iv. Ramsar site designation and management.

7. In addition, and also in relation to immediate and high priority work areas for 2006-2008 ([COP9 DR2]), the following will be appointed:

v. a wetlands and agriculture expert;
vi. a wetlands and human health expert; and
vi. a Communications, Education & Public Awareness (CEPA) expert.

8. In addition, two globally-recognized experts with a broad scope of wetland conservation and wise use expertise and experience of the scientific and technical operations and issues of the Convention will be appointed, so as to have available broad expertise in the delivery of the Panel's immediate and high priority tasks for 2006-2008 concerning the strategic review function on emerging issues and related matters ([COP9 DR2]).

9. In recognition of their ongoing scientific and technical support role for the Convention, each of the Convention's International Organization Partners (IOPs) will continue to be a member of the Panel. However, so as to ensure appropriate continuity of representation throughout STRP processes and meetings during a triennium, each IOP will be requested to nominate its representative on the Panel, and this nomination will be considered and confirmed by the STRP Oversight Committee as part of their Panel appointment role. Such IOP nominees should be globally-recognized wetland experts and have a role within their IOP for maintaining and accessing the wetland conservation and wise use expertise of their organization's regional and global networks.

10. Wherever possible, experts on a particular theme will be appointed from different parts of the world, for example people based in different Ramsar countries or regions and/or from northern and southern parts of the world, and gender balance will be sought. However, the overriding priority for appointments will be to secure the best expertise available, wherever that expertise is based.

11. The appointed expert members will lead (or co-lead) the STRP's Working Groups (see below) responsible for delivering the COP-approved tasks on these themes, and oversee the work of any task forces established within a Working Group to deliver a specific priority task.

12. The thematic work areas for which Panel members will be appointed will be reviewed for each triennium and will be approved by COP. The thematic work areas will depend on the priority themes and tasks identified by the Standing Committee and COP for the STRP in the next triennium, as in Annex 1 to [COP9 DR2] for the 2006-2008 triennium.

13. The Panel will meet in plenary twice during a triennium, the first time not later than six months after the previous COP, and the second time not later than six months before the next COP.

V. Procedure for identification and appointment of candidates

14. Appointments for each triennium will be made by the STRP Oversight Committee.

15. Nominations of candidates for appointment will be invited from:

i) STRP National Focal Points;
ii) the current Chair and Vice-Chair of the STRP; and
iii) current STRP members and observers.

16. Nominations can include existing appointed STRP members, observers and invited experts, if they have a proven track record of expert contribution to the work of the Panel. Appointment of such experts to the Panel will ensure continuity in the Panel's work on ongoing thematic work areas.

17. Nominations are not restricted to people from the same country of origin as the nominator, since it is relevant expertise which is being sought, regardless of the nationality or country of current domicile of the expert. Where appropriate, an expert can be nominated for more than one thematic work area as listed in paragraphs 6 to 8 above.

18. The nominator of each candidate will provide the Oversight Committee with a short summary of the expertise and experience of the candidate and the relevance of this to the priority work of the Panel for the triennium, in the form of a letter of recommendation.

19. Candidates being nominated will provide a declaration that they are willing to be considered for appointment to the Panel, that they have the full support of their organizations or institutions to deliver the work expected of Panel members, including time and availability for meetings, and that they have the necessary English language skills to engage fully in the work of the Panel, and they will provide a brief summary of how they see their skills and expertise contributing to the Panel's work, along with a curriculum vitae.

20. On the basis of the nominations received, the Secretariat will prepare an assessment and recommendations for appointments for consideration by the STRP Oversight Committee, which will reach its decisions on appointments through electronic communication and teleconferences as soon as possible after the start of the triennium, in order to permit the Panel to initiate its new programme of work as early as possible.

21. If the COP amends the list of immediate or high priority tasks proposed to it by the STRP and Standing Committee (for 2006-2008 in Annex 1 to [COP9 DR2]), either by the addition of a priority task or tasks for a thematic work area not covered by those listed in paragraphs 6 to 8 or by reducing the priority for tasks in a thematic work area, the STRP Oversight Committee shall either instruct the Secretariat to issue a further call for nominations for the appointment of an STRP member for any additional thematic area of expertise with immediate or high priority tasks, or determine not to appoint an expert member or members for a thematic work area.

VI. Appointment of Chair and Vice Chair of the Panel

22. The STRP Oversight Committee will review the appointments of Panel members and identify from these appointments candidates to invite to act as Chair and Vice Chair of the Panel during the triennium.

VII. STRP observer organizations

23. The work of the Panel will continue to benefit from the involvement and input of other relevant scientific and technical organizations and their networks, invited by the COP as observers to the Panel. Each organization invited by the COP as an observer to the STRP will be requested to nominate its representative on the Panel, in order to ensure continuity of participation. The representative should have the capacity to access his or her organization's national, regional and international network of wetland experts. In order to continue contributing to the efforts to streamline and harmonise the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements, invited observers to the STRP will continue to include the chairs of the equivalent scientific and technical subsidiary bodies and relevant staff of the secretariats of other environmental conventions and agreements.

VIII. Establishment and operation of Working Groups and task forces

24. The appointed STRP member expert or experts for each theme of priority work of the Panel will, with the assistance of the Secretariat's STRP support, establish a Working Group at the start of the triennium, and will act as its lead or vo-lead to develop and progress the tasks on that theme requested by the COP. This is a continuation of the STRP mechanism which has worked successfully during the 2003-2005 triennium.

25. Membership of the Working Group will be established by its lead or co-leads, with the advice of STRP Chair and Vice Chair and the Secretariat. Membership may include inter alia other appointed STRP members, representatives of STRP observer organizations, STRP National Focal Points with relevant expertise (see paragraph 28), and other invited experts with relevant expertise.

26. As part of the Panel's work concerning its strategic review function on emerging issues and related matters, the members appointed to lead this work (see paragraph 8) will coordinate the Panel's advice to the next COP concerning immediate, high, and emerging priorities for its work in the next triennium, as provided for 2006-2008 in Annex 1 of [COP9 DR2].

27. Concerning the CEPA-related work of the Panel, the role established during the 2003-2005 triennium in implementation of Resolution VIII.31, whereby CEPA input and advice to the work of the Panel is made by the STRP/Wetlands International CEPA Specialist Group from its national, regional and international network, will continue.

28. Each Working Group will develop the scope and contents of any guideline, review or other advice requested by COP within its thematic work area as an immediate or high priority for the triennium; will identify the mechanism for its delivery (including through an expert consultancy contract where necessary and resources permitting); and will oversee and review progress in the drafting and finalization of such materials.

29. As soon as possible after their appointment, the Working Group lead or co-leads will establish the initial membership of his or her Working Group and will undertake initial scoping work for undertaking each of the immediate and high priority tasks, for circulation in advance of, and discussion during, the first plenary meeting of the Panel in the triennium.

30. When appropriate, a Working Group can establish a small task force for the delivery of a particular immediate or high priority task in the STRP's programme for the triennium.

31. Each Working Group will keep under review opportunities for initiating other tasks requested of the Panel within its thematic work area (as listed for 2006-2011 in Annex 2 of [COP9 DR2]), and will develop mechanisms for the delivery of any such tasks as and when capacity permits.

32. Each Working Group will work largely electronically (through e-mail, the Web-based STRP support mechanism, and teleconferences) but will, resources permitting, meet in a workshop at least once during the triennium, in order to progress its work efficiently.

IX. Ensuring continuing national and regional applicability in the work of the STRP

33. One key to ensuring national and regional input to, and the applicability of, the STRP's work is the activation in the 2006-2008 triennium of the network of STRP National Focal Points (NFPs) appointed by each Contracting Party. The anticipated development of this important network was hindered during the 2003-2005 triennium by a reduction in funds available for the delivery of this aspect of the STRP's work.

34. In particular, for the 2006-2008 triennium, STRP NFPs will:

i. be invited to make nominations of candidates for appointment as members of the Panel for the triennium;

ii. be requested to identify their thematic areas of wetland conservation and wise use interest and expertise (though a short questionnaire) and, on the basis of that, be considered for membership of relevant STRP Working Groups;

iii. have full access to the Web base STRP support mechanism so that they may review and input to all draft materials as they are prepared by the Working Groups and task forces; and

iv. be invited to contribute to the peer review of reports and other documents being considered for publication in the Ramsar Technical Report series.

35. These roles of STRP NFPs are added to those listed in the Terms of Reference approved in Resolution VIII.28.

36. A second aspect of ensuring regional input to, and relevance of, the STRP is for the Panel to have as part of its mandate that of responding to regional scientific and technical priorities with the provision of regionally-relevant advice and guidance. The Panel will develop, during the 2006-2008 triennium, mechanisms for the delivery of this aspect of its work, which may include inter alia responding to regional scientific and technical priorities identified by Ramsar regional meetings and those identified by regional initiatives operating under the framework of the Convention (see [COP9 DR8]).

1. Note that access to such networks is also one of the key purposes of the standing membership of the STRP of the Convention's International Organization Partners (and is a recognized key role for all such IOPs) and the invitation of relevant scientific and technical organizations as observers to the Panel.

For reasons of economy, this document is printed in a limited number, and will not be distributed at the meeting. Delegates are requested to bring their copies to the meeting and not to request additional copies.

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