24th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee -- Draft Agenda

08/09/1999
24th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee
Gland, Switzerland, 29 November-2 December 1999
Agenda item 2

DOC. SC24-1

The Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

24th Meeting of the Standing Committee

Gland, Switzerland: 29 November – 2 December 1999

Draft Annotated Agenda and Programme

Note concerning Standing Committee documents and working languages: While this draft Annotated Agenda and Programme has been translated into French and Spanish, all other Standing Committee documents will be produced in English only, due to financial limitations. For the same reason, Standing Committee meetings are held in English, without interpretation or consecutive or whispered translation services from English into the other two official languages. However, it is possible for participants to make interventions in French or Spanish, with a consecutive translation provided by Ramsar Bureau staff.

Standing Committee documents are distributed to Standing Committee members and observers and will be dispatched by 15 October 1999. Hard copies are also posted to all other registered participants who request hard copies. Otherwise, all documents are made available for consultation and downloading in the Ramsar Web site, as from the above date. Thus, there is no general mailing of Standing Committee documents to all Contracting Parties.


dotblue.gif (866 bytes)Monday, 29 November

09.30 – 13.00 and 15.00 – 18.00

Meeting of the Subgroup on Finance of the Standing Committee to discuss and prepare recommendations on all financial issues included under Agenda Item 10 (see below).

Subgroup members are: Algeria, Argentina, Armenia (chair), Japan and Mexico. Australia as chair of the Standing Committee will participate as observer.

18.00 – 20.00 - Welcoming reception


dotblue.gif (866 bytes)Tuesday, 30 November

09.30 – 13.00 and 15.00 – 18.00

1. Opening statements

  • Chairman of the Standing Committee, Stephen Hunter, Australia
  • Director-General of IUCN, Maritta von Bieberstein Koch-Weser
  • Secretary General of the Convention, Delmar Blasco

2. Adoption of the agenda (DOC. SC24-1)

3. Appointment of representatives in the Standing Committee

Following paragraph 10 of Resolution VII.1, Contracting Parties elected as regional representatives by Ramsar COP7 have been invited "to convey to the Ramsar Bureau, through their diplomatic channels, the name of the officer(s) in the designated Administrative Authority who act as their delegates on the Standing Committee, as well as the name of their substitutes, should they be needed". See the Diplomatic Note of 17 June 1999 addressed to the Parties concerned.

4. Admission of Observers

According to Resolution VII.1, all Contracting Parties may be represented at Standing Committee meetings as observers. In addition, the Chair of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel and the International Organization Partners are also invited to attend as observers, "as well as other experts and/or institutions that the Standing Committee may deem appropriate for assisting in its consideration of particular agenda items".

5. Statements by International Organization Partners

  • BirdLife International
  • Wetlands International
  • WWF – World Wide Fund for Nature

6. Report of the Secretary General (DOC. SC24-2)

The Secretary General will report on the major developments that have taken place in the Convention and on the work of the Ramsar Bureau since the close of Ramsar COP7 on 18 May 1999.

7. Work Plan of the Ramsar Bureau and personnel and administrative matters (See also Agenda item 10 on budgetary issues)

7.1 Ramsar Bureau Work Plan for 2000 (DOC. SC24–3)

Paragraph 9 of Resolution VII.27 reads: The COP "APPROVES the Convention’s Work Plan for the 2000-2002 triennium as attached in Annex I, noting that the Standing Committee in its annual approval of the Ramsar Bureau’s Work Plan may have to establish an order of priority for the many actions expected of the secretariat." The Bureau will submit its proposal for the work to be carried out by the Convention secretariat in the year 2000.

7.2 World Wetlands Day/Week 2000 and other key promotional activities (DOC. SC24-4)

The Ramsar Bureau is consulting Standing Committee members with a proposal for the celebration on the next World Wetlands Day, 2 February 2000, in order to communicate that proposal to Contracting Parties before the Standing Committee meeting. Otherwise, if the Bureau materials were distributed only in mid-December, it would be too late for countries to plan their activities.

7.3 Staffing issues (DOC. SC24-5), including:

7.3.1    New staff chart, reflecting re-arrangements of staff responsibilities within the Administration and Fundraising Team.

7.3.2    Secretary General’s contract. The incumbent’s contract expires on 31 July 2000. The Standing Committee needs to take a decision on this matter.

7.3.3    Establishment of a Development Assistance Officer post at the Ramsar Bureau, as per paragraphs 13 and 14 of Resolution VII.28 on Financial and budgetary matters (see Agenda Item 10.4 ii)

8. Report from the 8th meeting of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (Gland, 22-25 September 1999) and consideration and adoption of proposed STRP Work Plan for the triennium (DOC. SC24-6)

One of the Standing Committee’s functions is to "approve the work plan of the STRP on the basis of the decisions of the COP, receive the reports of the STRP on the progress made with its implementation, and provide guidance for its future development". The 8th meeting of the STRP in September 1999 will be the first meeting of the new STRP members who were elected at Ramsar COP7 in May. COP7 Resolution VII.2 on ‘Composition and modus operandi of the STRP’ introduced a number of changes in both of those aspects, including the request to Contracting Parties to nominate national focal points for STRP matters. Contracting Parties have been formally invited to do so through Diplomatic Note 1999/4 dated 28 June 1999. At its 8th meeting, the STRP will consider all the issues that the COP has requested the Panel to work on and submit a proposed Work Plan for 2000-2001 to the Standing Committee.


dotblue.gif (866 bytes)Wednesday, 1 December

09.30 – 13.00 and 15.00 – 18.00

9. 7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP7)

9.1 Lessons learnt and review of COP structure and organization (DOC. SC24-7)

The target for Work Plan Action 8.1.1 reads: "The Standing Committee to review the structure and organization of the Conference of Contracting Parties and adopt changes to facilitate its implementation and effectiveness." The Bureau has made an analysis of the modus operandi and results of Ramsar COP7 in May 1999 and will transmit it with its recommendations to the Standing Committee.

9.2 Issues arising from COP7 requiring action by the Standing Committee (not considered elsewhere in this agenda):

i) Tasks of Standing Committee members, including recruitment of new Member States (DOC. SC24-8)

Annex II of Resolution VII.1 lists the tasks of Contracting Parties elected as regional representatives in the Standing Committee. This first meeting of the new Standing Committee should constitute an opportunity for members to discuss and agree upon how they plan to discharge their responsibilities.

In addition, paragraph 20 of Resolution VII.27 reads: The COP "FURTHER URGES all Contracting Parties, and especially the member countries of the Standing Committee in each region, those with neighboring countries that are not yet Parties to the Ramsar Convention, and those that share the range area of wetland-dependent migratory species with non-Contracting Parties, to increase their efforts for achieving the goal of universal membership contained in General Objective 1 of the Strategic Plan by encouraging those countries to accede to the Convention, so that the target of 150 member States can be reached before Ramsar COP8 and the Convention can pursue its global mission more effectively."

ii) Revisions to Ramsar sites boundaries, interpretation of Articles 2.5 and 4.2 (DOC. SC24-9)

The following are the relevant paragraphs of Resolution VII.23: The COP,

"9. REQUESTS the Standing Committee to develop and propose to the 8th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP8) a procedure for the review of Ramsar site boundaries for reasons other than urgent national interest, without prejudice to other international obligations;

10. RECOGNIZES that Australia will prepare two case studies (as referred to in Resolution VII.12) for the development of a more generalized approach to the revision of Ramsar site boundaries in cases other than the urgent national interest, and will provide the outcomes of these case studies in time for consideration at COP8;

11. REQUESTS the Standing Committee, with support from the Bureau, and in consultation with the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP), experts familiar with the Habitats Directive of the European Union, appropriate legal and other experts, and interested Contracting Parties, to develop for consideration and possible adoption at COP8 guidance for the Contracting Parties in interpreting Articles 2.5 and 4.2, if resources allow."

In addition, in paragraph 13 of the same Resolution, the COP "URGES those Contracting Parties or organizations with experience in issues of urgent national interest or similar determinations and habitat compensation and mitigation issues to provide any relevant information and materials to the Ramsar Bureau for consideration by the Standing Committee by no later than 30 September 1999." Contracting Parties have been formally invited to do so through Diplomatic Note 1999/6 of 27 July 1999.

iii) Criteria and guidelines for compensation of lost wetland areas (DOC. SC24-10)

Paragraph 13 of Resolution VII.24 reads: The COP "INVITES the Standing Committee to define, in cooperation with the Scientific and Technical Review Panel and the Ramsar Bureau, and in consultation with the International Organization Partners, criteria and guidelines for the compensation of wetland habitats in the case of unavoidable losses and to submit these for the approval of COP8."

iv) Regional targets under the Convention Work Plan 2000-2002 (DOC. SC24-11)

Paragraph 11 of Resolution VII.27 reads: The COP "ENDORSES the global targets for the Convention set under a range of themes in the Work Plan 2000-2002 and requests the Ramsar Bureau to prepare, based on the information contained in the COP7 National Reports and the Regional Overviews, regional targets for each for these same themes, for consideration and approval by the 24th meeting of the Standing Committee, and to disseminate these to all Contracting Parties for their information and consideration in guiding national and regional priority setting."

v) Format for National Reports to be submitted prior to COP8 (DOC. SC24-12)

Paragraph 13 of Resolution VII.27 reads: The COP "REQUESTS the Standing Committee, at its 24th meeting, to review the National Report format used for COP7 and to introduce appropriate changes with a view to making the Ramsar COP8 format available in early 2000, so that Contracting Parties wishing to apply this framework can establish and maintain at the earliest opportunity an ongoing record of implementation for national planning and reporting purpose."

vi) Preparation of revised Strategic Plan 2003-2008 (DOC. SC24-13)

Paragraph 22 of Resolution VII.27 reads: The COP "INSTRUCTS the Standing Committee to prepare for consideration and adoption at Ramsar COP8 a revised Strategic Plan for the Convention to cover the period 2003-2008, in consultation with the Contracting Parties, International Organization Partners, other convention secretariats and relevant intergovernmental and non-governmental institutions."

vii) Working partnerships with the Convention to Combat Desertification, CBD, World Heritage Convention, Man and the Biosphere, CMS, CITES, UNFCC, EC, SPREP, etc. (Work Plan Actions 7.2.1-7.2.9), and Ramsar presence in the Rio+10 process (DOC. SC24-14)

The targets adopted for these actions under the Work Plan are:

  • A Joint Work Plan between the Ramsar Convention and the Convention to Combat Desertification which seeks cooperative implementation of both at the international, national and local levels.
  • The Joint Work Plan with CBD implemented in full and resulting in cooperative implementation of both Conventions at the international, national and local levels.
  • A Memorandum of Cooperation with the Man and the Biosphere Programme, leading to Joint Work Plans with the MAB Programme and with the World Heritage Convention which establish cooperative implementation of both at the international, national and local levels.
  • A Joint Work Plan between Ramsar and the CMS which seeks cooperative implementation of both Conventions at the international, regional and national and local levels.
  • A Memorandum of Cooperation with CITES, leading to a Joint Work Plan between the Conventions, which aims towards cooperative implementation of both at the international, national and local levels.
  • A Memorandum of Cooperation with UNFCCC, leading to a Joint Work Plan between the Conventions, which aims towards cooperative implementation of both at the international, national and local levels.
  • A Memorandum of Cooperation with the European Commission and SPREP, with the preparation and implementation of a Joint Work Plan with each. For MedWet, establishment of the long-term funding base for this important initiative and development of new programmes of regional action. In addition, working relationships with the others referred to, and others which are appropriate.
  • Closer working relations with these and other relevant initiatives, as appropriate.

In addition, the Convention and its Contracting Parties should prepare their input to the Rio+10 process, so that Ramsar’s contribution to the implementation of Agenda 21 will be recognized and further encouraged.

viii) Identification of priority actions from the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island States (DOC. SC24-15)   

Paragraph 16 of Recommendation 7.2 reads: The COP "REQUESTS the Standing Committee to review the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States with a view to identifying a range of priority actions which the Ramsar Bureau should pursue, both independently and in partnership with other convention secretariats, regional organizations and programmes, the Convention’s International Organization Partners, and donors."


dotblue.gif (866 bytes)Thursday, 2 December

09.30 – 13.00

10. Report and recommendations from the Subgroup on Finance

10.1 Audited accounts for FY 1998 and status of the Reserve Fund (DOC. SC24-16)

The Standing Committee should review the report of the auditors for the fiscal year ending on 31 December 1998. The report shows that the year was closed with a surplus of SFR 222,430. This surplus has helped to increase the Reserve Fund established by Resolution VI.17 of COP6 to SFR 308,922. Thus there is an excess in the Fund (which according to the Resolution should not hold more than one twelfth of the year’s budget) that should be re-allocated to other uses.

10.2 Review of 1999 core and projects income and expenditure (DOC. SC24.17)

The Bureau will present a report of income and expenditure in the core budget and for each project for which earmarked funds have been obtained, as of 31 August 1999.

10.3 Allocations and operations of the Small Grants Fund (DOC. SC24-18)

i) 1999 income and project allocations

As of 15 August 1999, the resources available for allocation to 1999 projects amounted to SFR 452,857. Almost 90 project proposals have been received from 48 countries for a total amount of some US$ 2 million. The Ramsar Bureau is in the process of reviewing the project proposals and will offer its recommendations to the members of the Subgroup on Finance before the end of October.

ii) Review of operations

Paragraph 16 of Recommendation VII.5 reads: The COP "AUTHORIZES the Standing Committee to continue to evaluate the functioning of the Fund as prescribed in Resolution VI.6, including the mechanisms for deciding on grant allocations and for project monitoring and evaluation, and to implement any changes in functioning which it considers necessary; and REQUESTS the Standing Committee to report on the results of this evaluation to Ramsar COP8. This evaluation should take into account the possibility that the management of the SGF could be entrusted to one of the Convention’s International Organization Partners."

iii) Review of the SGF Operational Guidelines for the period 2000-2002

In 1996, following Ramsar COP6, the Standing Committee adopted the current Operational Guidelines for the SGF for the period 1997-1999. Now, after Ramsar COP7, these Guidelines should be reviewed by the Standing Committee and, if necessary, amended for their application in the period 2000-2002.

iv) Future fundraising for the SGF

The target under Action 8.4.1 of the Work Plan 2000-2002 is "To establish a mechanism to ensure one million US dollars annually for the Ramsar Small Grants Fund", while paragraph 11 of Resolution VII.5 reads: The COP "URGES that a mechanism be developed for receiving commitments of contributions to the SGF, if possible for a three-year period at a time, and REQUESTS the Contracting Parties that will chair the Standing Committee and the Subgroup on Finance of the Standing Committee in the next triennium to seek to initiate this mechanism, with the assistance of the Ramsar Bureau and the Standing Committee as a whole."

10.4 Ramsar Bureau Budget 2000 (DOC. SC24-19), including:

i) Elements of the Convention Work Plan funded from the core budget

Paragraph 21 of Resolution VII.28 reads: The COP "DIRECTS the Standing Committee to list and prioritize the actions required of the Ramsar Bureau, the Standing Committee, and the Scientific and Technical Review Panel arising from the Convention’s Work Plan, Recommendations, and Resolutions adopted at each COP, this to be tabled at the Standing Committee meeting following each COP, indicating which elements are to be funded from the adopted budget."

ii) Establishment of a Development Assistance Officer post

Paragraphs 13 and 14 of Resolution VII. 28 read: "13. . . . The difference between the assessed contribution for these Contracting Parties according to the UN scale and the minimum threshold of SFR 1,000 shall be allocated toward funding the position of a Development Assistance Officer in the Ramsar Bureau.

14. [The COP] URGES the Ramsar Bureau, as human and financial resources allow, to endeavour to secure the additional resources needed in order to establish the post of Development Assistance Officer within the secretariat, with the aim of mobilising resources to facilitate implementation of the Convention by developing countries and those with economies in transition."

iii) Fundraising for non-funded elements of the Convention Work Plan, including Terms of Reference for the Voluntary Fund for the Convention’s Outreach Programme

Paragraphs 24 and 18 of Resolution VII. 28 read: The COP "24. FURTHER REQUESTS the Ramsar Bureau to identify and cost its priority activities not funded from the core budget that would better implement elements of the Work Plan, and in cooperation with the Standing Committee, seek to raise sponsorship and grants and to provide this updated assessment to each Standing Committee meeting and COP."

And the COP: "18. DECIDES to establish a Voluntary Fund for the Convention’s Outreach Programme (Resolution VII.9); REQUESTS the Standing Committee to prepare and adopt the Terms of Reference for the Fund at its annual meeting in 1999; and INVITES Contracting Parties, NGOs, foundations, the private sector and other institutions to contribute to the Fund."

11. 8th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties (COP8) (DOC. SC24-20)

11.1 Update on progress in early preparations in Spain

11.2 Preliminary consideration of themes for COP8

The Bureau will submit to the Standing Committee preliminary proposals related to possible themes for the Technical Sessions and for Special Interventions at Ramsar COP8 in 2002.

12. 2000 meeting of the Standing Committee: dates and anticipated issues for its agenda (DOC. SC24.21)

13. Any other business

13.1 Letter from the Permanent Mission of Yugoslavia

13.2 Request from Ducks Unlimited, Inc., to be recognized as an International Organization Partner

14. Closing remarks

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