Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ramsar and Cartagena Conventions, 1 May 2000


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Memorandum of Cooperation


The Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

and the

Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the
Wider Caribbean Region (Cartagena Convention)


Since its inception in 1971, the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971) has provided the single most important intergovernmental forum on wetland conservation issues. According to the Convention's mission statement, the Contracting Parties agree to "the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local, regional and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world".

The Convention is founded on three pillars:

1. Promoting wise use of wetlands,
2. Developing international cooperation, and
3. Developing a network of Wetland sites of International Importance.

The conservation and wise management of wetlands through the designation of wetlands for the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, especially the obligation to maintain the ecological character of designated sites, deserves special recognition. This obligation recognizes the importance of wetlands for the maintenance of healthy and productive inland freshwater and coastal systems. In the context of water and wetlands, the Convention on Wetlands thus addresses issues which guide its Contracting Parties on ways to achieve sustainable development.

The Cartagena Convention, adopted in 1983, is a comprehensive, umbrella agreement for the protection and development of the marine environment in the Wider Caribbean Region. In accordance with its mission to "ensure coordinated and comprehensive development without environmental damage," (Preamble, Cartagena Convention) the Cartagena Convention identifies environmental management issues for which regional and international cooperation is necessary. The Convention is supplemented by three Protocols addressing oil spills, specially protected areas and wildlife (SPAW), and pollution from land-based sources and activities (LBS), which together emphasize the need for inclusion of an environmental dimension in the development process in order to minimize threats to the marine environment and to ensure the sound use of marine and coastal resources.

With regard to wetlands and water resources management, the Cartagena Convention and its associated Protocols highlight the interconnectedness of regional ecosystems. Under the SPAW Protocol, Parties recognize "the overwhelming ecological, economic, aesthetic, scientific, cultural, nutritional and recreational value of rare or fragile ecosystems," such as wetlands, and commit to protect and improve the state of such ecosystems. The LBS Protocol pays special attention to the threat to marine and coastal resources, and the entire hydrologic system, posed by land-based pollution sources and activities.

Within the general obligations set out by the Convention on Wetlands, Contracting Parties, meeting as the Conference of Parties (COP), identify priorities for action through a Strategic Plan. Contracting Parties to the Cartagena Convention identify priorities for action through the Workplan of the Caribbean Environment Programme adopted at the meeting of the Contracting Parties. Accordingly, implementation of this Memorandum of Cooperation shall be through joint actions within the framework of the Ramsar Strategic Plan and the Workplan of the Caribbean Environment Programme and as detailed in Annex 1.

The Convention on Wetlands and the Cartagena Convention recognize the fundamental role played by wetlands in regulating and providing water, in supporting maintenance of cultural and biological diversity, in ensuring high ecosystem productivity, and in providing services and benefits for people and the planet.

The Convention on Wetlands and the Cartagena Convention share similar conservation and management goals and the positive cooperation between the two institutions to date has been expressed through mutual recognition by our respective governing bodies. Turning to the future, this Memorandum of Cooperation aims to reinforce existing mechanisms, including any specific joint work plans, as well as establish new and specific mechanisms for enhancing synergies and partnerships to achieve common goals, whilst avoiding duplication of efforts through application of the Ramsar Convention Strategic Plan and the Workplan of the Caribbean Environment Programme.

THEREFORE, the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and the Secretariat of the Cartagena Convention, in the interest of recognising areas of mutual interest, enhancing cooperation and partnership between the Parties, and more efficiently and effectively pursuing their respective mandates, agree to the following principles and mechanisms for cooperation:

Article 1. Mechanisms for Programme Cooperation

A. The Secretariats of the Convention on Wetlands and the Cartagena Convention will develop collaborative actions for sustainable wetland and water resource conservation and management by increasing consultation and cooperation between them.

B. The Secretariats of the Convention on Wetlands and the Cartagena Convention will inform their respective regional and national focal points of identified cooperative activities.

C. For general matters, the focal point for the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands is the Secretary General, and the focal point for the Cartagena Convention is the Coordinator, or their assigned delegates.

D. The focal points, or their assigned delegates, may meet from time to time to assess the implementation of this Memorandum, exchange documents and review on-going activities.

Article 2. Joint Activities

A. Joint activities undertaken within the parameters of this Memorandum and identified in Annex I to this Memorandum of Cooperation, should relate clearly to the Ramsar Strategic Plan and the Workplan of the Caribbean Environment Programme and may be reviewed annually or at the request of either party.

B. The Secretariats of the Cartagena Convention and the Convention on Wetlands will communicate their agreement on common areas of work to their respective focal points and networks.

C. The Secretariats of the Convention on Wetlands and the Cartagena Convention will provide each other with details of their annual work programmes and strive to ensure harmonisation of activities at global, regional and national levels.

D. The extent to which the collaborative programme and the joint conservation activities are implemented will be subject to the availability of resources.

Article 3. Obligation, Review and Termination

A. This Memorandum of Cooperation constitutes an expression of a shared objective and vision. However, each Party's actions will be considered to be that Party's sole and separate action for all purposes, and neither Party shall claim to be acting on behalf of, or as agent for the other Party to this Memorandum of Cooperation.

B. Nothing in this Memorandum shall constitute a legal or financial obligation of either Party.

C. This Memorandum of Cooperation shall enter into force upon signature of both Parties. The term for this Memorandum of Cooperation is six years. The agreement may be reviewed at the request of either Party (usually annually) and may be terminated by either Party subject to six months notice in writing.

Peter Bridgewater
Secretary General
Convention on Wetlands
(Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
Nelson Andrade Colmenares
Cartagena Convention

Done at: Gland, Switzerland

Date: 29 June 2005


General Objective 1. The Wise use of Wetlands:

  • Where coral reef ecosystems are recognized as wetlands and as Protected Areas under the SPAW Protocol of the Cartagena Convention, collaboration will be established on activities related to coastal tourism and fishing, including sharing and promotion of best practices and guidelines for the sustainable use of the resources.
  • The Parties will exchange information and collaborate on their respective activities on assessment and monitoring of coral reefs, mangroves and related ecosystems.

General Objective 2. Wetlands of International Importance:

  • Parties to this Memorandum will coordinate when Wetlands of International Importance are designated in the Wider Caribbean Region.
  • Designated wetlands will be considered for the list of protected areas under the SPAW Protocol to the Cartagena Convention as appropriate and vice versa.

General Objective 3. International Cooperation:

  • Efforts will be made by the Parties of this Memorandum of Cooperation to promote the implementation of regulatory mechanisms to protect Wetlands of International Importance that are also of interest to the Cartagena Convention through the international and cooperative schemes that have been set in place by SPAW and the LBS Protocols.
  • The Parties of this Memorandum of Cooperation will engage in the exchange of experiences and in the compilation and transfer of best practices in managing Marine Protected Areas and Wetlands of International Importance.
  • The Ramsar Secretariat will collaborate with the SPAW Programme in the development of the Caribbean Marine Protected Area Managers Database (CaMPAM) in order to include all Ramsar wetlands of the Caribbean into the database. This database will provide information on the area and mechanisms in place to ensure its protection as well as an online discussion board among the MPA managers and Wetlands managers of both Conventions allowing for direct dialogue and collaboration. The Parties to this Memorandum recognized their shared responsibility in updating this database and engaging in productive dialogue.

General Objective 4. Collaboration for Capacity Building:

  • The Secretariats will collaborate on development and implementation of capacity building activities, particularly by sharing opportunities for training within the Wider Caribbean Region.
  • The Training of Trainers programme for Marine Protected Areas under the SPAW Protocol will include relevant information on the applicability of the Ramsar Convention and similarly training activities of the Ramsar Convention in the Wider Caribbean Region will include information as appropriate.

General Objective 5. Membership:

  • Recognising that increased participation in both Conventions furthers the conservations goals of each, when promoting ratification of their respective Conventions, Secretariats will also encourage ratification of the other Convention/Protocol. Similarly, each Secretariat will seek to promote implementation of the other Convention/Protocol among its Contracting Parties.
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