Joint Work Plan with the Convention on Biological Diversity

24/01/1999

JOINT WORK PLAN, 1998-99

between the Convention on Biological Diversity

and

the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

[Note: The Joint Work Plan was prepared by the Bureau of the Convention on Wetlands, in collaboration with the secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, in furtherance of the Memorandum of Cooperation between the two Conventions signed in January 1996. The Plan was distributed to the participants at the CBD’s 4th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (Bratislava, Slovak Republic, May 1998), with an explanatory introduction, as document UNEP/CBD/COP/4/Inf.8. The COP4, in Decision IV/15, endorsed the Joint Work Plan "as a framework for enhanced cooperation between these conventions and encourage[d] its implementation" (A programme for change: decisions from the Fourth Meeting . . . , United Nations, 1998, page 92) and encouraged the Executive Secretary to explore the possibility of developing joint work plans with other institutions and conventions based upon this model. The Proposed Joint Work Plan, including the explanatory Section I ("review of implementation of the Memorandum of Cooperation") that was part of document Inf. 8, can also be viewed on this site and has been published in the CBD COP4 Proceedings, A programme for change, pp. 116-37.]


To assist Contracting Parties of the CBD in reviewing this proposed Joint Work Plan, the actions described below have been arranged in the order of the relevant Articles of the CBD Convention text. To assist Ramsar focal points, the actions are cross-referenced to the relevant Articles of the text of the Convention on Wetlands and the General Objectives in the Strategic Plan 1997-2002.

Contents

§1 International cooperation

a. Transboundary cooperation
b. Small Island Developing States

§2 General measures for conservation and sustainable use

a. National strategies, policies and plans
b. Integrated watershed and coastal zone management
c. Appropriate technologies

§3 Identification and monitoring

a. Status and trends
b. Monitoring and assessment
c. Assessment techniques

§4 In-situ conservation

a. "Important" sites
b. Rehabilitation and restoration of ecosystems
c. Alien species
d. Involvement of local and indigenous communities
e. Legal instruments
f. Financial and other support

§5 Sustainable (wise) use of resources

a. Wise Use Guidelines and Resource Centre
b. Economic valuation
c. The ecosystem approach under the CBD and the Wise Use Guidelines
d. Remedial actions - refer to §4.b above.

§6 Incentive measures

a. Incentive measures

§7 Research and training

a. Research
b. Training and capacity building

§8 Public education and awareness

a. Public education and awareness

§9 Impact assessment and minimizing adverse impacts

a. Environmental Impact Assessment
b. Toxic chemical reduction

§10 Exchange of information

a. Wise Use Resource Centre

§11 Technical and scientific cooperation

a. Clearing house mechanisms
b. Collaboration between technical bodies
c. Sharing networks and rosters of expertise
d. Collaboration with broader water resource community

§1 INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION (CBD Article 5; Ramsar Article 5 and Strategic Plan General Objectives 1 and 7)

a. Transboundary cooperation

Article 5 of the Ramsar Convention expects Contracting Parties to work cooperatively to manage transboundary watersheds and the migratory species reliant on wetland ecosystems (inland water ecosystems and marine and coastal ecosystems). There are several examples of where this is occurring under the Ramsar Convention at present. The Ramsar Convention also collaborates with the Convention on Migratory Species to promote multilateral approaches to the conservation of migratory species. The secretariats of the Convention on Wetlands and the Convention on Migratory Species have a Memorandum of Understanding in place.

The Ramsar Convention’s Strategic Plan 1997-2002 indicates that at COP7, the Contracting Parties will consider for adoption guidelines on the implementation of Article 5 which will be directly relevant to the CBD. Transboundary and regional models for international cooperation will also be a major part of Technical Session V at Ramsar’s COP7 entitled The Frameworks for Regional and International Cooperation.

b. Small Island Developing States

The CBD recognizes the special significance and circumstances of the Small Island Developing States, as does the Ramsar Convention in its Strategic Plan. On World Wetlands Day 1998, the Ramsar Bureau launched a special publication intended to encourage these States to join the Convention and gain access to its expertise and resources. The publication draws attention to the obvious synergy between CBD and the Convention on Wetlands for the habitats common in these countries, as well as the impending development of this Joint Work Plan. It is proposed that the two Convention secretariats collaborate to encourage an integrated approach to implementation of the two Conventions in the Small Island Developing States, the results of which would be reported on at Ramsar’s COP7 and at a future CBD COP.

§2 GENERAL MEASURES FOR CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE USE (CBD Article 6; Ramsar Article 3 and Strategic Plan General Objective 2)

a. National strategies, policies and plans

The development of appropriate policy and legislative instruments at the national level is a very high priority for both Conventions. For the long-term sustainability of inland water ecosystems and marine and coastal ecosystems, there must be cross-sectoral approaches taken for the development of national policy instruments which integrate biodiversity and wetland conservation considerations into broader frameworks. At Ramsar’s COP7 these issues will be considered in Technical Sessions I (Ramsar and Water) and II (National Planning for Wetland Conservation and Wise Use). Projects examining models for policy development and legislative review (see §4.e also) are under way at present under Ramsar, and will be reported on and further elaborated at that time.

Also, the Ramsar Convention promotes the establishment of cross-sectoral National Wetland Committees as a mechanism to encourage a more integrated approach to water systems management. Similarly, at the local scale, through its Management Planning Guidelines, the Ramsar Convention promotes full stakeholder consultation and the establishment of cross-sectoral management committees for Wetlands of International Importance and other wetland sites. Collaboration with CBD will assist with moving towards integration of these consultative instruments and national advisory bodies and processes at the country level. The collaboration with CBD will strive to use the ecosystem approach for the work of those bodies and processes.

The first national reports submitted by Parties to the CBD address Article 6 (General Measures for Conservation and Sustainable Use) and report on measures taken in the development of national strategies, programs and other plans. A synthesis is being made in document UNEP/CBD/COP/4/11. Decision III/9 of the third meeting of the COP of the CBD urged Parties to include in their national plans or strategies, inter alia, integration of biological diversity objectives in relevant sectoral policies.

b. Integrated watershed and coastal zone management

The Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity has adopted an ecosystem approach to implementing the Convention. At Ramsar’s COP7, Technical Session I (Ramsar and Water) will examine lessons learned in integrated watershed management and provide advice to governments, organizations and the general community on best practice in this area. To the extent possible, this session could examine the findings under the principles of the ecosystem approach so far developed under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance includes 903 sites. Of these, 435 have coastal components and, of these, 379 are totally coastal or marine wetland types. Through the Convention, management plans to promote the integrated management of these areas are being prepared or have been completed. Through the National Reports being prepared by Ramsar Parties for COP7, up-to-date information will be provided on the status of these plans and the focal points for each site. This information will be available to the Secretariat of CBD, the SBSTTA and the focal points of CBD in the respective Contracting Parties to assist them with promoting an integrated approach to marine and coastal area management.

Decision III/11 of the third meeting of the COP of the CBD endorsed the conclusions of the 1995 CSD sectoral review of Agenda 21, which, inter alia, recognized the need for an integrated and multidisciplinary approach to the planning, development and management of land resources, and that the achievement of the multiple objectives related to sustainable agriculture and rural development requires a whole system approach. In view of the inter-relationship and impacts between land use and the status of inland water and marine and coastal ecosystems, collaboration will be developed between the Ramsar and the terrestrial work programs of the CBD with attention to incentive measures for sustainable use.

c. Appropriate technologies

As indicated under §2.b above, Theme I of the Technical Sessions at Ramsar’s COP 7, Ramsar and Water, will examine lessons learned in integrated watershed management. Two sub-themes being considered for attention in this Technical Session are also relevant here, namely, "The role of wetlands in the hydrological cycle" and "The role of wetlands, both natural and constructed, in pollution management". It is proposed that the guidelines emerging from these presentations be added to Ramsar’s Wise Use Resource Centre (see §5.a below) and be generally available to CBD Parties and others for their application as appropriate.

§3 IDENTIFICATION AND MONITORING (CBD Article 7; Ramsar Article 2 and 3.2, Strategic Plan General Objectives 2, 5 & 6)

a. Status and Trends

The Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA) project has as its overall objective the development of a framework for the identification of priorities for remedial and mitigatory actions in international waters, where significant environmental benefits can be achieved at the national, regional and global levels. The Ramsar Convention is at present funding Wetlands International to prepare Phase I of a Global Review of Wetland Resources. This project is directly complementary to the GIWA project and is due to report on progress at Ramsar’s COP7.

b. Monitoring and assessment

Ramsar’s Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) has prepared a paper entitled Early Warning Systems for Detecting Ecological Change in Wetlands, which will provide Ramsar Contracting Parties with a basis for monitoring to detect impacts on water-dominated ecosystems. The Bureau convened a small technical workshop to progress this topic on 20-22 April 1998 from which a paper, with recommendations, is to go forward to COP7. The paper, Early Warning Systems for Detecting Ecological Change in Wetlands, also considers issues of indicators and criteria which could be directly transferable to the SBSTTA program for inland water ecosystems.

With respect to undertaking the assessment of inland water ecosystems which may be regarded as important in accordance with the terms of Annex I of the CBD Convention, this matter is considered further under §4.a. below. The Ramsar Convention also encourages all Contracting Parties to prepare National Wetland Inventories, and then to use these for planning and management as well as the identification of nationally and internationally important wetlands. The Ramsar Convention will urge its focal points in each Contracting Party to collaborate with their CBD counterparts to ensure that this information is available to them for national biodiversity planning activities.

The use of Earth Observation data to describe the status, trends and threats to wetlands is also presently under investigation by the Ramsar Bureau and may be the subject of special consideration at COP7.

The third meeting of the COP of the CBD endorsed the recommendation II/1 of its SBSTTA concerning indicators, monitoring and assessment, including a list of priority tasks. There is a need for collaboration and coordination between the work of the two processes in this area.

c. Assessment techniques

At the 7th Ramsar COP, Theme IV of the Technical Sessions is to be entitled, Tools for Assessing and Recognizing Wetland Values. This will include a special analysis of indicator species and guidelines for rapid assessments of wetlands and water resources from the perspectives of biodiversity and ecological/hydrological functions. The outputs from this Technical Session will assist CBD Contracting Parties and the SBSTTA with progressing activities in this area.

§4 IN-SITU CONSERVATION (CBD Article 8; Ramsar Articles 3.1, 4.1, Strategic Plan General Objectives 2, 5 & 6)

a. "Important" sites

Further to §3.b above, the Ramsar Convention urges that CBD consult with the Ramsar Convention when considering how best to prepare indicative lists of inland water ecosystems of importance for biodiversity conservation (in accordance with Annex I of the Convention on Biological Diversity). The Ramsar Convention has criteria in place for identifying Wetlands of International Importance (which are under review at present by the STRP and secretariat). It is expected that at COP7 there will be consideration given to a proposed re-organization of these criteria to group all of the "biodiversity" criteria together. Ramsar’s STRP is also reviewing the wetland classification system used by the Convention. The attendance of the chair of SBSTTA, or other relevant representatives, at future STRP meetings will assist in encouraging this convergence in approaches to take place.

Ramsar’s criteria also include recognition of ecological communities, and the work being done at present on this by IUCN’s Species Survival Commission (SSC) is of direct interest to the Convention on Wetlands as well. It is proposed that CBD and the Ramsar Convention consult with the IUCN SSC as necessary, to assist with the progress of this work.

b. Rehabilitation and restoration of ecosystems

Ramsar’s Strategic Plan (Operational Objective 2.6) sets down a range of actions intended to promote the rehabilitation and restoration of wetland ecosystems. The Ramsar Convention Bureau is working with appropriate partners, and through the STRP, to access the established expert networks in this field. It is also proposed to document case studies demonstrating best practice in rehabilitation and restoration of wetland ecosystems in time for Ramsar’s COP7.

Issues relating to the rehabilitation and restoration of ecosystems are addressed in the CBD COP decisions on marine and coastal, agricultural and forest ecosystems.

c. Alien species

This is an emerging issue for the Ramsar Convention and is being considered as a Special Intervention at COP7. It is proposed that CBD and Ramsar liaise with IUCN, ICSU and SCOPE in their Global Invasive Species Initiative to further this work for the Contracting Parties.

This area is being addressed by the CBD in its thematic programs and under the issue of identification, monitoring and assessment of components of biological diversity and of processes that have adverse impacts.

d. Involvement of local and indigenous communities

Ramsar’s COP7 has the overall theme of People and Wetlands: The Vital Link. The Bureau is at present working with IUCN (and a number of other NGOs) to document case studies, lessons learnt and best practice in the involvement of local and indigenous people in the management of wetlands. On the basis of this project, Guidelines for the involvement of local and indigenous people in wetland management will be presented at COP7 under Technical Session III entitled, Involving Local People at all levels.

e. Legal instruments

As indicated under §2.a above, the development of appropriate policy and legislative instruments at the national level is a very high priority for both Conventions. To assist Ramsar Contracting Parties in the area of legislative frameworks, the Convention Bureau has engaged the IUCN’s Environmental Law Centre to develop guidelines for reviewing the legal framework for wetlands conservation and wise use. The report on this project (with Guidelines) will be presented at COP7 in Technical Session II on national planning instruments. It will produce direct advice to Parties which will be equally relevant to CBD focal points.

f. Financial and other support

CBD Decision III/21, Operative Paragraph 12, "Invites contracting parties to relevant biological diversity-related Conventions to explore opportunities for accessing funding through the Global Environment Facility for relevant projects, including projects involving a number of countries". (Refer to Background paragraph 5 of Ramsar COP7 DOC. 15.4 and CBD COP4 Decision IV.4.)

§5 SUSTAINABLE (WISE) USE OF RESOURCES (CBD Article 10; Ramsar Article 3, Strategic Plan General Objective 2)

a. Wise Use Guidelines and Resource Centre

The Ramsar Convention has adopted Guidelines and Additional Guidance on implementation of its Wise Use concept for inland water ecosystems and marine and coastal ecosystems. On World Wetlands Day in 1998, the secretariat launched the Wise Use Resource Centre which aims to accelerate dialogue and the sharing of information and expertise in this area. The facility is available to all, and is to be promoted to CBD focal points to assist them with the management of these habitat types.

b. Economic valuation

Ramsar’s 1997 publication Economic Valuation of Wetlands: a Guide for Policy Makers and Planners provides the most current information on wetland valuation techniques. As a follow-up action, Theme IV for Ramsar’s COP7 will look at four aspects related to this under the theme of Tools for Assessing and Recognizing Wetland Values. Ramsar is seeking to collaborate with the Global Wetlands Economists Network in moving ahead on issues such as recognizing and valuing wetland functions and services and measuring the social impacts resulting from the degradation of water resources. Also, under Technical Session III at COP7 with the theme Involving local people at all levels, it is proposed that there be a review of fiscal and other incentive measures for wetland conservation and wise use (see §6 below).

c. The ecosystem approach under the CBD and the Wise Use Guidelines

The two secretariats will examine whether the Wise Use Guidelines and the principles of the Ecosystem Approach are compatible or how they could be harmonized, and propose the results to their next COPs. This would allow for joint implementation of the two Conventions.

d. Remedial actions - refer to §4.b above.

§6 INCENTIVE MEASURES (CBD Article 11; Ramsar Article 2, Strategic Plan General Objective 2)

a. Incentive measures

As advised under §5.b above, the area of incentives, disincentives, etc., is to be examined in detail in Technical Session III at COP7, which has the theme Involving local people at all levels.

The CBD Web site on incentive measures, which is being developed, can be linked to the Wise Use Resource Center to facilitate active information exchange.

§7 RESEARCH AND TRAINING (CBD Article 12; Ramsar Articles 4.3 & 4.5, Strategic Plan General Objectives 2, 4 & 7)

a. Research

Promoting research and the transfer of the knowledge gained is a priority for both Conventions. The respective "clearing-houses" for information maintained by the Conventions are the mechanisms for dissemination (see §11.a below), but they should also become a tool for promoting research into the ecosystem-based approach to managing inland water ecosystems and marine and coastal ecosystems. Ramsar’s Wise Use Resource Centre (see §5.a above) is designed to be a proactive way of examining current management issues and directing the efforts of the research community to priority issues.

b. Training and capacity building

During 1998 the Ramsar Bureau is assembling a catalogue of training opportunities for wetland managers. This "clearing-house" for information on training will form part of the Bureau’s Wise Use Resource Centre (see §5.a above).

It is proposed that in partnership the two Conventions should seek to mobilize donor support, and especially that of the Financial Mechanism, to escalate the level and intensity of training and capacity building (see §12.a) to allow the representatives from developing countries and those with economies in transition to attend training programs. Also, it is proposed that in-country training be fostered through this initiative.

§8 PUBLIC EDUCATION AND AWARENESS (CBD Article 13; Ramsar Strategic Plan General Objective 3)

a. Public education and awareness

Ramsar’s Communication and Public Awareness Plan (1998-99) describes approximately 30 different target groups for its activities in these areas. During 1998 a Communications Strategy will be developed for the Convention which will provide a framework for these activities for the period 1999-2002. Under Ramsar’s Strategic Plan, collaboration with several organizations promoting environmental education approaches is advocated, among them the Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (GREEN). The Bureau is also at present pursuing direct contact with the formal education system through its various teachers networks in order to promote and make available models for curriculum development.

§9 IMPACT ASSESSMENT AND MINIMIZING ADVERSE IMPACTS (CBD Article 14; Ramsar Article 2, Strategic Plan General Objective 2)

a. Environmental Impact Assessment

One of Ramsar’s NGO Partners, Birdlife International, is working with the STRP and the Bureau to develop Guidelines on Environmental Impact Assessment for wetlands. It is proposed that these be presented at COP7 under Technical Session II, National Planning for Wetland Conservation, and then made available in the Wise Use Resource Centre (see §5.a above)

b. Toxic chemical reduction

At Ramsar’s 6th COP attention was focused on the impact of toxic chemicals on wetland systems, and member States were urged to take appropriate actions in response. This issue has not gained the prominence it should have in the period following, especially given the seriousness of the problem. With support from WWF, Ramsar proposes to develop a program of action to be considered for funding under appropriate avenues, such as the Financial Mechanism’s Targeted Research Program.

§10 EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION (CBD Article 17; Ramsar Article 4.3, Strategic Plan General Objective3)

a. Wise Use Resource Centre

As indicated under §5.a above, on World Wetlands Day 1998 the Ramsar secretariat launched the Wise Use Resource Centre, which aims to accelerate dialogue and the sharing of information and expertise in this area. The facility is available to all, and is to be promoted to CBD focal points, through the established links between the two Web sites, to assist them with the management of these habitat types. The Centre, housed on Ramsar’s site on the World Wide Web, includes an experts database, a resource library, a "hot topics" dialogue area, and details on training opportunities around the globe.

b. Refer also to §11 below

§11 TECHNICAL AND SCIENTIFIC COOPERATION (CBD Article 18; Ramsar Article 4.3, Strategic Plan General Objectives 3 & 8)

a. Clearing house mechanisms

Both Conventions maintain sites on the World Wide Web which operate as "clearing-houses" or entry points to networks of networks. These sites are "hot-linked" to facilitate access to the information each houses, and it is proposed they have "mirror" pages to demonstrate the collaborative approaches being taken by the two Conventions for inland water ecosystems and marine and coastal ecosystems.

b. Collaboration between technical bodies

Both Conventions have expert advisory groups, SBSTTA for CBD and the Scientific and Technical Review Panel for the Ramsar Convention. Even though the two bodies are different in composition and modus operandi, regular dialogue and a flow of information between these expert bodies will clearly be advantageous. It is proposed that the current practice of inviting the chairs of these respective bodies to the meetings of the other should continue. This has also included members of the secretariats in the past and it is likewise proposed that this continue.

c. Sharing networks and rosters of experts

The Ramsar Convention launched its Wetland Experts Database on World Wetlands Day (2 February) 1998. The Secretariat of the CBD is also building its own rosters of experts. It is proposed that there be collaboration between the two Conventions to complement CBD’s establishment of a roster of experts with specialization in inland water ecosystems and marine and coastal ecosystems.

In addition, the Convention on Wetlands has four non-governmental organizations as its official "partners". These are The World Conservation Union (IUCN), Wetlands International, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and BirdLife International. The Ramsar Convention holds regular planning meetings with these partners and a number of joint projects are underway at present. In future it is proposed to invite the CBD Secretariat to have representation at these planning meetings.

d. Collaboration with broader water resource community

Ramsar is actively participating in the World Water Council and the Global Water Partnership which both strive to encourage integrated water resource management. The Ramsar Bureau has established itself as a "kiosk" in the GWP’s World Wide Web site, the so-called Water Shopping Mall. The secretariat of the CBD is participating in the ACC Subcommittee on Water Resources, which oversees the coordination of UN system activities regarding water resources. The Ramsar Bureau has also participated in the Water and Sustainable Development Conference held in Paris in March 1998 and both secretariats cooperated during the Ad-hoc Intersessional Working Group of the CSD on Strategic Approaches to Freshwater Management (New York, 23-27 February 1998), and plan to do likewise at the Sixth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development in New York in April 1998. In these high-level global fora, the Ramsar Bureau is actively advocating and encouraging the adoption of an ecosystem approach to river basin management.


Progress report on implementation of the Joint Work Plan, June 1999

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