Resolution VII.8: Guidelines for establishing and strengthening local communities’ and indigenous people’s participation in the management of wetlands

COP7's logo"People and Wetlands: The Vital Link"
7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties
to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971),
San José, Costa Rica, 10-18 May 1999

1. RECALLING the Guidelines for the implementation of the wise use concept (Recommendation 4.10) and the Additional guidance for the implementation of the wise use concept (Resolution 5.6), which seek to encourage the involvement of local communities in the development of management plans for Ramsar sites and decision-making processes related to the wise use of wetlands;

2. AWARE of the relevant paragraphs of Resolution 1.51 of the World Conservation Congress in Montreal in 1996 in relation to indigenous people and the Narashino Statement from the International Wetland Symposium at the Yatsu-Higata Ramsar site in Japan in 1995, which called for active and informed participation by local people and communities in wetland management, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making, and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters adopted in Aarhus, Denmark, in June 1998;

3.    AWARE of the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169 Concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries;

4.    ALSO AWARE that in many contexts indigenous people and local communities are already involved in managing and using wetlands sustainably, and have long-standing rights, ancestral values, and traditional knowledge and institutions associated with their use of wetlands;

5. FURTHER RECALLING Recommendation 6.3 which in particular called on the Ramsar Bureau, in consultation with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Kushiro International Wetlands Centre, the Caddo Lake Institute, IUCN - World Conservation Union, Contracting Parties, and other relevant NGOs, to evaluate the benefits of involving local and indigenous people in the management of wetlands and produce for consideration at this Conference guidelines on how the participatory approach can advance the adoption and application of the wise use principle of the Convention;

6. ACKNOWLEDGING that Operational Objective 2.7 from the Convention’s Strategic Plan 1997-2002 describes actions intended to “encourage active and informed participation of local communities, including indigenous people, and in particular women, in the conservation and wise use of wetlands”, including implementation of Recommendation 6.3;

7. NOTING that the case studies documented and analysed in preparing the Guidelines on how to implement the participatory approach have revealed that involving local stakeholders can accelerate the move towards achieving the Ramsar goal of wise use of wetlands in accordance with Article 3.1 of the Convention, when such participation is pursued within the full framework of actions encouraged by the Convention, and that the lessons learned from these case studies can assist Parties and others in fostering participatory approaches that avoid the mistakes encountered by others;

8. FURTHER NOTING that the theme of the 7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties is Wetlands and People - the vital link and that Technical Session III of this Conference examined in detail the tools and mechanisms for promoting the involvement of local and indigenous people in wetland management;

9. ALSO NOTING that Technical Session III of this Conference considered and discussed the draft document prepared by IUCN - World Conservation Union, with the support of the Kushiro International Wetlands Centre, the Caddo Lake Institute, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and the Ramsar Bureau entitled Guidelines for establishing and strengthening local communities’ and indigenous people’s participation in the management of wetlands; and

10. THANKING the Governments of Australia, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom for their financial support for the development of the draft Guidelines and the associated case studies;

THE CONFERENCE OF THE CONTRACTING PARTIES

11. ADOPTS the Guidelines for establishing and strengthening local communities’ and indigenous people’s participation in the management of wetlands contained in the Annex to the present Resolution as further guidance to the Contracting Parties in the implementation of the wise use concept of the Convention and the Convention generally;

12. CALLS UPON Contracting Parties to apply these Guidelines so as to encourage active and informed participation, and the assumption of responsibility, by local communities and indigenous people in the management of Ramsar-listed sites and other wetlands and the implementation of the wise use principles at the local, watershed, and national levels;

13. FURTHER CALLS UPON Contracting Parties, when applying the Guidelines annexed to this Resolution, to give priority and special attention to involving women, youth and their representative organizations wherever and whenever possible;

14.    URGES Contracting Parties to include extensive consultation with local communities and indigenous people in the formulation of national wetland policies and legislation and to ensure that these instruments, when introduced, include mechanisms consistent with the Annex to this Resolution, for actively engaging and involving the general community with implementation;

15.    FURTHER URGES the Contracting Parties to create, as appropriate, the legal and policy context to facilitate indigenous people’s and local communities’ direct involvement in national and local decision-making for the sustainable use of wetlands, including the provision of necessary resources;

16. INVITES Contracting Parties to ensure that the stakeholders, including local communities and indigenous people, are represented on National Ramsar Committees or similar bodies, and that, where possible, these non-government stakeholders are represented in the national delegations to future meetings of the Conference of the Contracting Parties;

17. ENCOURAGES Contracting Parties to provide for transparency in decision-making with respect to wetlands and their conservation and ensure that there is full sharing with the stakeholders of technical and other information related to the selection of Ramsar sites and management of all wetlands, with guarantees of their full participation in the process;

18. FURTHER ENCOURAGES Contracting Parties, technical experts, and local and indigenous people to work together in the planning and management of wetlands to ensure that the best available science and local knowledge are taken into consideration in making decisions;

19. REQUESTS Contracting Parties to give priority to capacity building for the implementation of participatory approaches with special attention being given to the training of government administrators and local people in facilitation techniques, consultative processes, cultural sensitivity, and the application of the Ramsar Wise Use Guidelines;

20. INVITES Contracting Parties to seek, as appropriate, the involvement and assistance of indigenous people’s and community-based groups, wetland education centres and non-governmental organizations with the necessary expertise to facilitate the establishment of participatory approaches;

21. REQUESTS Contracting Parties to recognise that in many cases financial mechanisms and incentives provide a catalyst for fostering participatory processes and should therefore gain priority consideration in efforts to promote the involvement of local communities and indigenous people;

22. URGES the bilateral and multilateral donor agencies supporting wetland conservation and wise use projects, and integrated water resource management projects in general, to take into consideration the Annex to this Resolution and the priorities for action at the national level identified herein;

23. DIRECTS the Ramsar Bureau to establish a clearing house, create a focal point, and liaise with other international organizations, including the secretariats of international conventions, for information exchange related to participatory approaches and indigenous knowledge systems in support of wetland management, and for information on training and other topics likely to be of use by the Parties in implementing this Resolution, as human and financial resources allow;

24.    URGES the Ramsar Bureau and partners to further elaborate on these Guidelines by COP9 in the light of new experiences in establishing and strengthening participatory processes at Ramsar sites and other wetlands, utilizing the experience of International Organization Partners, indigenous people’s and community-based groups; and

25.    DECIDES that as part of the National Reports to be prepared for COP8, special attention will be given to reporting on significant efforts in implementation of these Guidelines, and in particular on efforts to enhance the extent and effectiveness of involving local communities and indigenous people in wetland management.


Annex

Guidelines for establishing and strengthening local communities’ and indigenous people’s participation in the management of wetlands

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