Memorandum of Cooperation between Ramsar and the Global Programme of Action (GPA)

08/11/2006

BirdLife International

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Memorandum of Cooperation

between

The Convention on Wetlands
(Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

and

Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA)

Preamble

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 Ramsar Convention covers all types of wetlands from the mountains to the sea, including areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary; with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including near marine areas.

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.

Within the general obligations set out by the treaty, Contracting Parties, meeting as the Conference of the Parties (COP), identify priorities for action through a Strategic Plan.

The United Nations Environment Programme GPA Coordination Office in The Hague, The Netherlands, coordinates the tasks and activities of UNEP as secretariat of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA). The Global Programme of Action was adopted by 108 Governments, and the European Commission, in Washington D.C. in 1995. The GPA aims at preventing the degradation of the marine environment from land-based activities by facilitating the duty of States to preserve and protect the marine environment. It is designed to assist States in taking actions individually or jointly within their respective policies, priorities and resources, which will lead to the prevention, reduction, control and/or elimination of the degradation of the marine environment, as well as to its recovery from the impacts of land-based activities.

The major threats to the health and productivity and biodiversity of the marine environment result from human activities on land -in coastal areas and further inland. Most of the pollution load of the oceans, including municipal, industrial and agricultural wastes and run-off, as well as atmospheric deposition, emanates from such land-based activities and affects the most productive areas of the marine environment, including estuaries and near-shore coastal waters. These areas are likewise threatened by physical alteration of the coastal environment, including destruction of habitats of vital importance for ecosystem health. Moreover, contaminants which pose risks to human health and living resources are transported long distances by watercourses, ocean currents and atmospheric processes.

The bulk of the world's population lives in coastal areas, and there is a continuing trend towards its concentration in these regions. The health, well-being and, in some cases, the very survival of coastal populations depend upon the health and well-being of coastal systems -estuaries and wetlands -as well as their associated watersheds and drainage basins and near-shore coastal waters. Ultimately, sustainable patterns of human activity in coastal areas depend upon a healthy marine environment, and vice versa.

Through its programme on Physical Alterations and Destruction of Habitats (PADH), the GPA Coordination Office aims at protecting coastal and marine habitats such as near-shore wetlands against alterations and destructions from human induced development activities. The objectives of the PADH programme are the following:

1. Build capacities within governments to address the urgent threats to coastal zones through, among other issues, strengthening legislation and regulatory capacity and facilitating multi-stakeholder/partnership fora;

2. Safeguard the ecosystem function, maintain the integrity and biological diversity of habitats, which are of major socio-economic and ecological interest through integrated management of coastal areas;

3. Promote effective action in specific locations to reduce and prevent the degradation of the coastal and marine environment caused by pollution and physical alteration and destruction of habitats, and where practicable, restore marine and coastal habitats that have been adversely affected by anthropogenic activities.

The Convention on Wetlands and the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities 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 Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities share similar conservation and management goals. Turning to the future, it would be ideal to reinforce existing mechanisms, including any specific joint work plans, and establish new and specific mechanisms for enhancing synergies and partnerships to achieve common goals.

Under the terms of this Memorandum of Cooperation, the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and UNEP/GPA Coordination Office agree the following:

Article 1. Mechanisms for Cooperation

A - The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and UNEP/GPA Coordination Office will develop a collaborative programme for sustainable wetland and water resource conservation and management, and the protection of the marine environment from land based sources and activities by increasing current consultation and cooperation between them.

B - The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and UNEP/GPA Coordination Office will inform their focal points at regional and national levels of their cooperative activities. For general matters, the focal points for the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and UNEP/GPA Coordination Office are respectively the Secretary General and the GPA Coordinator, or their assigned delegates.

C - 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 - This Memorandum of Cooperation is intended to provide the Parties with an enabling framework, and to serve as a guiding tool in identifying and carrying out specific collaborative activities. The cooperation between the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and UNEP/GPA Coordination Office will specifically support their common objectives and enhance the impact of their respective activities in the field of protection of the environment and sustainable development, in particular joint activities will focus on the following:

Participation in Meetings

The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and UNEP/GPA Coordination Office will extend invitation to each others' meetings where matters of mutual interest are to be examined, including the COP meetings of the Ramsar Convention and the COP meetings of the relevant Regional Seas conventions, when appropriate.

Exchange of Publications

Taking into account the confidentiality applicable to information at each Party's organization, the Parties would encourage regular and free exchange of information, publications, reports and technical data of mutual interest. This will include the dissemination of each other's information and publications, as applicable and necessary, through each other's distribution lists, networks and partners.

Legal Assistance

The Parties will coordinate and, when feasible and appropriate, design and implement joint activities regarding the development/revision of national legislation and policies on issues of common interest, in particular as regards measures to avoid the physical alteration and destruction of coastal and marine habitats such as near-shore wetlands.

Restoration, Rehabilitation and Management of Habitats of Crucial Importance

The Parties will jointly identify and, when feasible and appropriate, design and implement projects and activities regarding sustainable management approaches, new technologies and new institutional arrangements for the restoration, rehabilitation and management of habitats of crucial importance.

Specific activities to be undertaken by the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands:

1. Promote among Ramsar Regional Centres the development of mechanisms to support the implementation of the GPA.
2. Organize joint training activities in Ramsar Regional Training Centres.
3. Distribute publications and disseminate information at Ramsar's meetings on relevant programmes and activities conducted by the GPA.
4. Provide assistance in identifying partners that could contribute to the GPA achieving its objectives.
5. Involve the Scientific and Technical Review Panel of the Ramsar Convention in supporting the GPA's work as regards water quality, including the use of wetlands for pollution control.
6. Share relevant Ramsar Convention Secretariat programme developments and project information with the GPA Coordination Office.

Specific activities to be undertaken by the GPA/Coordination Office:

1. Promote during the preparation and implementation of GPA National Plans of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land based Activities (NPAs), the development of mechanisms to support the implementation of the Ramsar Convention.
2. Taking into account the applicable confidentiality measures, provide the Ramsar Convention Secretariat with access to the GPA list of countries which have developed their National Programmes of Action for the implementation of the GPA or are in the process of doing so. This will allow the Ramsar Convention Secretariat to identify the NPAs which cover Ramsar sites and link those NPAs with the Ramsar protection measures.
3. Promote synergies between the GPA and the Focal Points of the Ramsar convention at the national level. This will include make relevant information on the GPA National Plans of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land based Activities (NPAs) available to Ramsar Focal Points in order to promote synergies at the national level and the relevant exchange of experience and information.
4. Distribute publications and disseminate information at GPA's meetings on relevant programmes and activities conducted by the Ramsar Convention.
5. Provide assistance in identifying partners that could contribute to the Ramsar Convention achieving its objectives.
6. Organize joint training activities and incorporate relevant issues and programmes of the Ramsar Convention in the GPA's capacity building activities in order to contribute to the wise use of wetlands and the ecological character of the Ramsar Sites.
7. Participate in, and contribute to the work of, the Scientific and Technical Review Panel of the Ramsar Convention, especially that on water quality issues including pertinent ecological indicators of effectiveness of the Convention.
8. Share relevant GPA programme developments and project information with the Ramsar Convention Secretariat.

B - Specific areas of collaboration, to be identified in the future on the basis of geographic or programmatic criteria, will be defined in agreements supplemental to this Memorandum of Cooperation, which will constitute integral part of this Memorandum under the form of Annexes to it, signed by the Parties or agreed upon by exchange of letters between them.

C - The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and UNEP/GPA Coordination Office and will communicate agreement on common activities with their respective networks. The Parties will endeavour to mobilise the expertise available on their respective areas of work within their organisations in support of these activities.

D - The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands and UNEP/GPA Coordination Office will provide each other with details of their annual work programmes to ensure harmonisation of activities at international, regional and national levels.

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

F - This Memorandum of Cooperation shall not be deemed to constitute financial obligation to either of the Parties.

Article 3. Correspondence

All correspondence between the Parties regarding this Memorandum of Cooperation and joint activities should be addressed to:

At the Ramsar Convention Secretariat:

Dr. Peter Bridgewater
Secretary General, Ramsar Convention Secretariat
Rue Mauverney 28
1196 Gland, Switzerland
Tel: +41 22 999 0170
Fax: +41 22 99 0169
Email: bridgewater@ramsar.org

At the UNEP/GPA Coordination Office:

Dr. Veerle Vandeweerd
Coordinator, UNEP/GPA Coordination Office and Head Regional Seas
P.O. Box 16227, 2500 BE
The Hague, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 70 311 4461
Fax: +31 70 345 6648
E-mail: v.vandeweerd@unep.nl

All correspondence regarding administrative and financial matters should be addressed to:

Mr. Alex Vreman
Administrative Officer
UNEP/GPA Coordination Office
P.O. Box 16227, 2500 BE
The Hague, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 70 311 4465
Fax: +31 70 345 6648
E-mail: a.vreman@unep.nl

With a copy to the Chief, Budget and Financial Management Service:

Chief, Budget and Financial Management Service
United Nations Environment Programme
P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 2 62 3637
Fax: +254 2 62 3755

Article 4. Amendments

This Memorandum and its annexes may be amended by agreement in writing signed by both Parties.

Article 5. Entry into force, duration 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. This Memorandum shall enter into force on the date on which the last Party signs. The term for this Memorandum of Cooperation is five years. The agreement may be reviewed at the request of either Party and may be terminated by either Party subject to thirty-day notice in writing.

Article 6. Arbitration

Any controversy or claim arising out of or in accordance with this Memorandum or breach thereof, shall, unless it is resolved by direct negotiations, be settled in accordance with UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules as at present in force. The Parties shall be bound by any arbitration award rendered as a result of such arbitration as the final adjudication of any such controversy or claim.

Article 7. General Provisions

Representation
Neither Party shall have the authority to incur any liability or make any commitment on behalf of the other Party vis à vis any third party, contractually or otherwise, without the other Party's advance express written consent.

Privileges and Immunities
Nothing in or relating to this Agreement shall be deemed a waiver of any of the privileges and immunities of the United Nations, the GPA Coordination Office or the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands.

Peter Bridgewater
Secretary General
Convention on Wetlands

Veerle Vandeweerd
Coordinator
GPA
  

Done at Beijing, People's Republic of China on 17 October 2006.

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