25th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee

25th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee
Gland, Switzerland, 23 - 27 October 2000
Agenda item 9

DOC. SC25-5

The Joint Work Plan with the Convention on Biological Diversity and implications for Ramsar of the Decisions of CBD COP5


5th Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity
Nairobi, 15-26 May 2000

Digest of issues and Decisions of particular relevance to the Ramsar Convention

(prepared by the Ramsar Bureau, May 2000)

General Comments

1. Strong support and endorsement for the CBD/Ramsar Joint Work Plan from many Contracting Parties (not just those with whom we traditionally work closely), and much recognition that such joint plans are the way forward between conventions. Strong instruction to CBD Secretariat to develop joint working relations with other conventions and particularly on some topics with UNFCCC and Desertification Convention.

2. Much increased recognition through many of the Decisions that Ramsar covers more than just inland waters (an issue at the last SBSTTA in Montreal): references to Ramsar in Decisions on both other ecosystems and on cross-cutting issues.

3. Little progress on some issues of importance to Ramsar, notably indicators. Ecosystem management approach endorsed, but importantly recognising that this does not exclude other approaches, notably for species (e.g., waterbird flyway strategies).

4. The Bureau is now working with CBD Secretariat and with the scientific subsidiary bodies of the two conventions to develop mechanisms for delivering the actions outlined in the JWP, not least because many require information sharing, cross-linked participation, and/or joint working between the respective bodies.

5. Considerable encouragement from CPs (and reflected in wording of Decisions) to see CBD begin to deliver products and tangible results, with target and timeframe setting much stronger.

6. Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety signed by 57 countries. Now awaits ratification to come into force.

7. Rather stronger recognition of role of NGOs in CBD process: both in the course of the Conference (interventions, etc.) and recognition of their work in supporting implementation of CBD, notably e.g. in the alien species debate.

8. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary below encapulates the overall outcomes of COP5:

The fifth Conference of the Parties (COP-5) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) took place from 15-26 May 2000, at UNEP Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, drawing together approximately 1500 participants representing 156 governments, as well as NGOs, IGOs and indigenous and local community organizations. Delegates to COP-5 considered and adopted decisions on a number of topics, including: a new thematic work programme on conservation of dry and sub-humid land biodiversity; the ecosystem approach; access to genetic resources; alien species; sustainable use as a cross-cutting issue; biodiversity and tourism; incentive measures; the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation; progress in implementing the work programmes on agricultural, inland water ecosystem, marine and coastal and forest biodiversity; operations of the Convention; the Global Taxonomy Initiative (GTI); financial resources and mechanism; scientific and technical cooperation and the Clearing-House Mechanism (CHM); identification, monitoring and assessment, and indicators; and impact assessment, liability and redress. A High-Level segment on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, including a Ministerial Roundtable and a special signing ceremony, was convened during the second week of the meeting. Many delegates characterized COP-5 as a success and attributed this to the positive working atmosphere and delegates’ efficiency. Participants noted the maturation of the process and discussions, while highlighting the need to move from policy generation to implementation.

Institutional Links

Operations of the Convention: Cooperation with other bodies (COP5 Decision V/21)

9. Two paragraphs (cited in full below) provide the overarching endorsement of the 2nd CBD/Ramsar Joint Work Plan, and, of particular importance, recognition that it covers actions on several ecosystem themes and cross-cutting issues (not just the inland waters theme as remained the persistent focus of discussion at SBSTTA5). The Decision also commends the JWP as a model for future cooperation between CBD and other conventions.

4. Welcomes and endorses the second joint work plan (2000-2001) between the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/5/INF/12), and commends it as a useful example of future cooperation between the Convention on Biological Diversity and other environmental conventions;

5. Notes that the second joint work plan between the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands includes a range of cooperative actions in relation to several ecosystem themes and cross-cutting issues of the Convention on Biological Diversity, as well as proposing actions to ahrmonize institutional processes, and requests the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice and the Executive Secretary to take these actions fully into consideration in furthering the respective programmes of work in these areas.

10. No amendments were made by COP5 to the Joint Work Plan itself (nor previously were any made to the text as presented to SBSTTA5 as paper INF/12). The operative version of the plan is therefore that of SBSTTA5/INF/12.

11. Other paragraphs of this Decision request CBD development of enhancing links with inter alia UNFCCC (a number of cross-cutting links here also with Ramsar e.g. on coral reefs, incentives, etc. - see also below), CMS, DIVERSITAS, and the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment.

Operations of the Convention (COP5 Decision V/20)

12. Under III. Operations of SBSTTA, two paragraphs identify the development and maintenance of links between convention subsidiary bodies:

17. Decides that the Chair of [SBSTTA] or other members of the Bureau authorised by him or her may represent the Subsidiary Body at meetings of the scientific bodies of other conventions and relevant biological-diversity-related conventions, institutions and processes;

18. Encourages the Bureau of [SBSTTA] to hold meetings with equivalent bodies of other relevant biological-diversity-related conventions, institutions and processes.

Thematic areas

Inland waters (COP5 Decision V/2)

13. In Para. 2 the joint work plan was endorsed and the joint Ramsar/CBD River Basins Initiative (which held a very successful side event during COP5) received a specific mention:

2. Endorses the proposed joint work plan for the period 2000-2001 of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/5/INF/12), which includes, inter alia, a River Basin Initiative, encourages Parties, other governments and relevant bodies to support and participate in the Initiative, and stresses that Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Ramsar Convention shall not be disadvantaged in the working and implementation of the joint work plan;

14. Note that other paragraphs refer to addressing the lack of information on the status of inland water biodiversity, and links to the Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA) as a means of getting such assessment. The links with Ramsar’s wetland inventory and assessment work (and how this ties in with the wetland components of the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment) will need further development.

Marine and Coastal (COP5 Decision V/3)

15. Paragraph 2 of the preamble notes the relevance of the Joint Work Plan for future implementation of the programme of work on marine and coastal biodiversity.

16. The Decision includes separate sections on the different elements of the CBD marine and coastal workplan. Ramsar receives specific mention in several places, and there are other areas of action outlined which are relevant to the JWP implementation and STRP’s current work:

I. Coral reefs. Para 4 "Requests … [that] In conducting his work on coral bleaching, the Executive Secretary will also liase with, inter alia, the Convention on Wetlands…."

II. Integrated Marine and Coastal Area Management. No specific Ramsar mention, but note ref. STRP ICZM Working Group that further work on developing guidelines for coastal areas (taking into account the ecosystem approach) is endorsed, as is ecosystem evaluation and assessment through guidelines on evaluation and indicators.

IV. Alien species and genotypes. Links information, expertise and good practice on marine alien species to the overall work programme on alien species (see also below).

VI Cooperation. Note that the Executive Secretary of CBD is requested to coordinate with the secretariats of regional seas conventions, with the possibility of joint work programmes. This has relevance to Ramsar’s developing links with such conventions, notably Cartagena and HELCOM.

17. An Annex lists "Priority areas for action on coral bleaching". There are several issues identified of relevance to Ramsar activity.

18. Specifically, one issue is that: "Coral Bleaching is relevant not only to [CBD] but also to [UNFCCC] and the Convention on Wetlands". This notes that "The Convention on Wetlands provides guidance on the conservation and wise use of wetlands, including coral reefs."

The planned Response to the issue is: "Initiate efforts to develop joint actions among the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Convention on Wetlands to:

a) Develop approaches for assessing the vulnerability of coral-reef species to global warming;

b) Build capacity for predicting and monitoring the impacts of coral bleaching;

c) Identify approaches for developing response measures to coral bleaching;

d) Provide guidance to financial institutions, including the Global Environment Facility, to support such activities.

19. The Annex also highlights the potential use of monitoring of coral reefs and coral bleaching as an early warning system for the impacts of global warming on marine ecosystems. This has relevance to STRP’s current work on ecological change, risk assessment and early warning systems.

Forest Biological Diversity (COP5 Decision V/4)

20. 20. Invites the Executive Secretary to strengthen cooperation with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including its Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, [CITES], and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands especially on issues relevant to forest biological diversity, taking into account the role of the United Nations Forum on Forests.

Dryland, Mediterranean, Arid, Semi-Arid, Grassland and Savanna Ecosystems (COP5 Decision V/23)

21. Note that this programme of work may also be referred to as on "dry and sub-humid lands". Although there is no specific mention of Ramsar in the operative paragraphs, there are several reference here to collaboration with UNCCD and other relevant bodies, including Ramsar, in undertaking the programme of work.

22. The proposed programme of work (Annex I) makes general and several more specific references to wetlands and Ramsar:

I. Introduction. Para 2.(c) "Promote synergy and coordination, and avoid duplication, between related conventions . . ."

II. Proposed Programme of Work

23. Part A. Assessments. "Activity 2. Identification of specific areas within dry and sub-humid lands of particular value for biological diversity and/or under particular threat such as, inter alia, endemic species and low lying wetlands". (Note that Activity 1. covers assessment of status and trends including effectiveness of conservation measures.)

24. Part B: Targeted actions in response to identified needs. Activity 7 (Promotion of specific measures for the conservation and sustainable use of the biological diversity of dry and sub-humid lands) includes:

(l) Cooperation with the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and the Convention on Migratory Species with regard to, inter alia, integrated catrchment management incorporating wetland ecosystems as integral parts of dry and sub-humid lands; and also:

(m) Cooperation with all relevant conventions, in particular [CCD], with respect to, inter alia, the sustainable use of the biological diversity of dry and sub-humid lands, the application of the ecosystem approach, the assessment of status and trends of the biological diversity as well as to its threats.

Cross-cutting areas

Alien Species (COP5 Decision V/8)

25. Alien (invasive) species received strong attention, with a particular focus on the work of the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) and its development of a global strategy. There will also be further elaboration of the interim guiding principles for COP6, for which Parties and international bodies are invited to submit comments and case studies (paragraph 5). Paragraph 11 makes specific reference to Ramsar, along with a wide range of other conventions and bodies:

11. Requests the Executive Secretary to cooperate with other international bodies and other relevant international and regional binding and non-binding instruments, such as . . . the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar), . . . with the aim of coordinating work on alien invasive species, and to report on potential joint work programmes of work to [SBSTTA].

26. Paragraph 14. also requests such collaboration in a range of more specific activities, notably including criteria for risk assessment, socio-economic impact assessment, ways of enhancing ecosystem capacity to resist or recover from alien species invasions, and a reporting system for invasions and spread of invasives.

Incentive measures (COP5 Decision V/15)

27. The Decision requests collaboration with other bodies including IUCN to compile additional information on existing instruments for positive incentives, and on perverse incentives and ways of mitigating their impacts. Paragraph 4. specifically relates to Ramsar:

4. Requests the Executive Secretary to promote coordinated action on incentives with other international biodiversity-related agreements and relevant organizations, noting specifically that the joint work plan 2000-2001 of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on Wetlands (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/5/INF/12) includes consideration of incentive measures.

Indicators (and Monitoring and Assessment) (COP5 Decision V/7)

28. The Decision supports the line taken by SBSTTA5, that the indicators paper prepared by the Executive Secretary did not fully address the requirements of Decision IV/1A. The process has not therefore moved forward, and two papers will be prepared for SBSTTA and COP6, in collaboration with other relevant organizations, bodies and processes:

a) A set of principles for designing national-level monitoring programmes and indicators;

b) A key set of standard questions and a list of available and potential indicators, covering the ecosystem, species and genetic levels, taking into account the ecosystem approach, that may be used by Parties at their national level and in national reporting and that also allow for regional and global overviews on the state and trends of biodiversity and, if possible and appropriate, any responses from policy measures.

29. STRP’s work on indicators was planned to pick up and review the CBD outputs for their utility to Ramsar. In view of the delay to the CBD process, STRP9 will now need to consider how best to progress wetland-related indicators and to what extent it might assist in the preparation of the CBD draft guidance on indicators.

Impact Assessment, Liability and Redress (COP5 Decision V/18)

30. Paragraph 4. makes specific reference to STRP (amongst a very wide range of organizations) in relation to the work of CBD SBSTTA:

4. Requests the [SBSTTA] to further develop guidelines for incorporating biodiversity-related issues into legislation and/or processes on strategic environmental assessment and impact assessment, in collaboration with the scientific community, the private sector, indigenous and local communities, non-governmental organizations and relevant organizations at the international, regional, subregional and national levels, such as the Scientific and Technical Review Panel of the Convention on Wetlands, the Scientific Council of [CMS], DIVERISTAS, IUCN, [IAIA] and [UNEP], as well as parties, and further elaborate the application of the precautionary approach and the ecosystem approach, taking into account needs for capacity-building, with a view to completion by the sixth meeting of the Conference of Parties.

Biological Diversity and Tourism (COP5 Decision V/25)

31. No specific reference to Ramsar. Focus (para 2.) is on contributing to UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) international guidelines on sustainable tourism in vulnerable ecosystems (terrestrial, marine and coastal), habitats of major importance for biological diversity and protected areas, including fragile riparian and mountain ecosystems. The Executive Secretary is requested to prepare a proposal for this contribution, e.g., by convening an international workshop.

Sustainable use as a cross-cutting issue (COP5 Decision V/24)

32. Although no specific mention of Ramsar the Decision is of considerable relevance, notably through para 1, which:

"Requests the Executive Secretary to invite organizations involved in sustainable use initiatives and other relevant organizations to gather, compile and disseminate through the clearing-house mechanism and other means, case-studies on best practices and lessons learnt from the use of biological diversity under thematic areas of the Convention, drawing on the experience of Parties, Governments, relevant organizations, the private sector and indigenous and local communities."

And para 3, which

"Requests assembly, in collaboration with relevant organizations, practical principles, operational guidelines and associated instruments, and guidance specific to sectors and biomes, to assist Parties and Governments achieving sustainable use of biological diversity."

33. The preamble also notes the important linkages with the work on indicators and incentive measures.

Education and public awareness (COP5 Decision V/217)

34. A working group of experts, including IUCN, WWF and other relevant bodies will be convened to identify priority activities for the proposed global initiative on biological diversity education and public awareness. This has, therefore, clear parallels with Ramsar’s Outreach Programme.

Other Decisions

35. These cover:

  • Agricultural Biological Diversity (COP5 Decision V/5). Although covered in the Joint Work Plan, there is no specific link to Ramsar contained in the Decision.
  • National Reporting (COP5 Decision V/19). The endorsed format is similar to that developed by Ramsar, and will be further developed to make a revised format available to Parties by September 2000.
  • Article 8(j) and related provisions (COP5 Decision V/16). Indigenous and local communities. No specific Ramsar link identified – but much in the programme of work is relevant to Ramsar and/or on topics related to Ramsar’s Guidelines. There is potential for linking e.g. on cultural and social impact assessment guidelines.
  • Scientific and Technical Cooperation and the Clearing-House Mechanism (COP5 Decision V/14)
  • Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (COP5 Decision V/10). Notes the work of GISP and of IUCN-SSC.
  • Global Taxonomy Initiative (COP5 Decision V/9)
  • Financial Resources and Mechanisms (COP5 Decisions V/11, V/12, V/13)
  • Biosafety Protocol (COP5 Decision V/1)
  • Other matters: contribution to UNCED 10-year review (COP5 Decision V/27)
  • Access to Genetic Resources (COP5 Decision V/26)
  • Budget 2001-2002 (COP5 Decision V/22)
  • Tribute to Kenya (COP5 Decision V/28)
  • Date and venue of COP6 (COP5 Decision V/29). Den Haag, Netherlands, 2nd quarter of 2002.
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