Decisions of the 24th Meeting of the Standing Committee, Nov.-Dec. 1999

24th Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee
Gland, Switzerland, 29 November-2 December 1999

Decisions of the 24th Meeting of the Standing Committee

List of Participants
Full Report of the Meeting (English only)
Documents prepared for the meeting

Agenda item 7.1: Bureau Work Plan 2000

Decision SC24-1. The Standing Committee approved the Bureau’s Work Plan for 2000, subject to the Chairperson’s agreement upon modifications to reflect the sense of the discussion on this issue.

[The final version of the Bureau’s Work Plan for 2000 is available (in English only) on the Ramsar Web site and in Word or hard copy versions upon request to the Ramsar Bureau.]

Decision SC24-2. The Standing Committee urged the International Organization Partners to emulate Wetlands International in devising a complementary work plan based upon that of the Ramsar Bureau, showing the added valued they are able and willing to provide.

Agenda item 7.3.2: Secretary General’s contract

Decision SC24-3: The Standing Committee determined to renew Mr Delmar Blasco’s contract. Noting the offer of Mr Blasco to serve a final term of three years from 1 August 2000, the SC agreed that an exchange of letters be entered between Mr Delmar Blasco, the Chair of the Standing Committee, and the IUCN Director General which will provide that Mr Delmar Blasco agrees to take early retirement from 31 July 2003.

Decision SC24-4: The SC agreed to develop for consideration by COP8 a procedure for the selection of a new Secretary General.

Agenda item 8: Report of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP)

Decision SC24-5: The Standing Committee endorsed Wetlands International’s proposed project on Inventory of Asian Wetlands.

Decision SC24-6: The Standing Committee approved the proposed Work Plan of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel, subject to the additional suggestions mentioned during the discussion.

[The STRP Work Plan will be available in English, French, and Spanish on the Ramsar Web site and in Word or hard copy versions upon request to the Ramsar Bureau.]

Decision SC24-7: The Standing Committee approved the proposed Terms of Reference for STRP National Focal Points, as amended, and urged all Contracting Parties to complete their nominations of Focal Points as soon as possible.

[The terms of reference for STRP National Focal Points will be available in English, French, and Spanish on the Ramsar Web site) and in Word or hard copy versions upon request to the Ramsar Bureau. They will also be transmitted under cover of a diplomatic note to all Contracting Parties and to the Focal Points.]

Decision SC24-8: The Standing Committee accepted the present version [circulated at the meeting] of the Global Action Plan for Peatlands for further study by STRP and SC with a view to bringing it for formal consideration by Ramsar COP8.

[The new version of the Global Action Plan for Peatlands is available (in English only) upon request to the Ramsar Bureau.]

Agenda item 9.2.i: Tasks of Standing Committee members

Decision SC24-9: The Standing Committee expressed its members’ willingness to consult with the Parties in their regions both before and after SC meetings so that they can fully represent their regions, voiced their willingness to encourage the adhesion of new Contracting Parties in close coordination with the Bureau’s efforts, and identified which Contracting Parties the Regional Representatives will take ‘responsibility’ for liaison within their regions.

(Note: During informal consultations during the meeting, the Regional Representatives for Africa, Europe, and the Neotropics agreed upon a division of their respective regions to implement the above decision. Information on this matter is available on the Ramsar Web site and from the Ramsar Bureau.)

Agenda items 9.2.ii and iii: Articles 2.5 and 4.2 on site boundaries and compensation for wetland losses

Decision SC24-10: The Standing Committee requested the Bureau to explore with IUCN’s Environmental Law Centre how the ELC might initially take the lead in developing legal advice for the SC on the issues raised in Resolutions VII.23 and VII.24, so that the Committee can then decide how to move forward.

Agenda item 9.2.iv: Regional targets in the Convention Work Plan

Decision SC24-11: The Standing Committee agreed that in future the Bureau’s Work Plans would be circulated in time for regional consultations and input to the version included with the rest of the SC agenda papers, and that meetings to further consider the proposed Regional Work Plan would be held on the Monday prior to the next SC meeting, following the normal Subgroup on Finance meeting.

Agenda item 9.2.v: Format of National Reports

Decision SC24-12: The Standing Committee members agreed to comment within three weeks (by 24 December 1999) on the details of the proposed NR form and delegated the Chair to agree upon the final form with the Bureau.

Agenda item Strategic Plan 2003-2008.

Decision SC24-13: The Standing Committee adopted the following drafting procedure to prepare the Strategic Plan 2003-2008:

i) the Ramsar Bureau prepares a first draft, engaging, if necessary, external consultants from the Ramsar network, by 30 June 2000;
ii) the Bureau mails the draft to the Drafting Group members for comments, with a deadline by 31 August 2000, and incorporates the input received;
iii) the Drafting Group meets in Gland two days in advance of the Standing Committee meeting in 2000 and reports progress to and incorporates input from the Standing Committee;
iv) the third draft is translated into French and Spanish and is distributed for comments to all Contracting Parties, other conventions, and relevant intergovernmental institutions and NGOs in January 2001, with a deadline for comments by 30 April 2001;
v) the Bureau compiles the input received and circulates a revised draft to the Drafting Group by the end of May 2001;
vi) the Drafting Group holds a meeting in late June/early July 2001 and adopts a final draft for submission to the Standing Committee meeting in 2001;
vii) the Standing Committee considers and approves the final draft at its meeting in 2001 for submission to COP8 in 2002.

The SC also decided that the regional representation on the Subgroup on the Strategic Plan will be as follows: Algeria for Africa, Slovak Republic for Europe, Trinidad and Tobago for the Neotropics, the USA for North America, and Australia for Oceania. Other members of the Subgroup will be Paul Mafabi (Uganda) as Chair, the Chairperson of the STRP, a representative of each International Organization Partner, and the Secretary General, ex officio.

[Note: Japan requested two weeks to consult with India about the Subgroup’s representative for Asia.]

Agenda item 9.2.vii: Working partnerships with other conventions and bodies

Decision SC24-14: The Standing Committee endorsed the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement’s project proposal to the Global Environment Facility and instructed the Secretary General to write a letter to that effect.

Decision SC24-15: The Standing Committee expressed strong support for Ramsar’s work towards synergies with other conventions and a strong sense that further efforts are also needed within the Parties at national level. It also supported efforts to ensure a high Ramsar visibility in the Rio+10 process, especially at the April 2000 meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development.

Decision SC24-16: The Standing Committee expressed strong support for the draft Joint Work Plan between Ramsar and the Convention on Biological Diversity and looked forward to viewing the next draft. The Committee also urged stronger cooperation between Ramsar and the CBD at national level as well.

Agenda item 9.2.viii: Review of the Barbados Programme of Action

Decision SC24-17: The Standing Committee determined to continue to promote membership of the Small Island Developing States in the Convention and to continue to seek resources to establish a long-term SIDS internship within the Bureau. The SC formed a Subgroup consisting of Australia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Wetlands International (Roger Jaensch, Wetlands International – Oceania) to review the Barbados Programme of Action and seek input from the SIDS, and report to the next Standing Committee meeting.

Financial matters

Agenda item 10.1: Audited accounts for FY 1998 and status of the Reserve Fund

Decision SC24-18: The Standing Committee approved the audited accounts for FY1998 and approved the Secretary General’s proposal that the excess in the Reserve Fund (SFR 76,893) be used as a start-up sum for the Voluntary Fund for the Convention’s Outreach Programme.

Agenda item 10.2: Review of 1999 core and projects income and expenditure

Decision SC24-19: The Standing Committee approved the financial report for the current year and the Bureau’s report on the status of current projects, and it requested the Bureau, in consultation with the authorities in Costa Rica, to produce a consolidated report of the overall costs of Ramsar COP7 for the next meeting of the Subgroup on Finance.

Agenda item 10.3.i: Small Grants Fund income and allocations for 1999

Decision SC24-20: The Standing Committee approved the statement of available resources for the SGF 1999 cycle, as shown in Annex 1 of this report, and approved funding for the category A1 projects listed in Annex 2 of this report, subject to the submission of outstanding reports of previous SGF-funded projects by 29 February 2000 or satisfactory explanations provided to the Bureau with a commitment to submit the reports by an agreed deadline. In case of non-compliance, the allocated funds should be used to support category A2 projects in the order of their listing in Annex 2. Category A2 proposals should be funded, in the order of their listing, if additional resources should become available.

Agenda item 10.3.ii and iii: Small Grants Fund Operational Guidelines

Decision SC24-21: The Standing Committee approved the draft SGF Operational Guidelines 2000-2002, with amendments to require that additional co-funding for projects from foreign and in-country sources be clearly indicated as separate ‘leverage effects’, and it instructed the Bureau to prepare an agenda paper on the idea of the administration of the Ramsar Small Grants Fund being turned over to one of the International Organization Partners for consideration at the next SC meeting.

[The SGF Operational Guidelines 2000-2002 will be available in the Convention’s three official languages on the Ramsar Web site and in Word or hard copy versions upon request to the Ramsar Bureau.]

Agenda item 10.3.iv: Fundraising for the Small Grants Fund

Decision SC24-22: The Standing Committee endorsed the Bureau’s proposal to explore the possibility of holding a donors’ meeting to discuss possible funding mechanisms for the Small Grants Fund.

Agenda item 10.4.i: The Bureau’s budget for 2000

Decision SC24-23: The Standing Committee approved the proposed core income and expenditure for FY2000 and requested of the Bureau that i) in future, a column with the previous year’s income and expenditure be included in the document for reference; ii) it prepare a report on the use of funds under budget line 3 (‘travel on official business’), corresponding to the previous fiscal year, for consideration at the next meeting of the Subgroup on Finance; and iii) that the term "core budget" in all future Ramsar documents include not only Contracting Parties’ contributions but also all other non-earmarked income.

Agenda item 10.4.ii: Establishment of a Ramsar Development Assistance Officer post

Decision SC24-24: The Standing Committee approved the establishment of a Development Assistance Officer in the Ramsar Bureau and endorsed the terms of reference proposed in ¶5 of agenda paper DOC. SC24-19.

[The vacancy announcement has been posted on the Ramsar Web site on 13 December 1999.]

Agenda item 10.4.iii: Fundraising for unfunded elements of the Convention’s Work Plan

Decision SC24-25: The Standing Committee requested the Bureau to give priority to those activities shown in the Convention’s Work Plan that have been requested and/or recommended in the Resolutions and Recommendations of COP7, and it approved the establishment and proposed terms of reference for the Voluntary Fund for the Convention’s Outreach Programme 1999-2002 as shown in Annex 3 of this report.

Agenda item 10.4.iv: Invoicing of annual contributions for the year 2001

Decision SC24-26: The Standing Committee approved the practice of invoicing Contracting Parties for 2001 in the amounts of their year 2000 contributions, and then correcting for any changes in the UN scale of assessment in the invoices for 2002. Parties will be notified with the 2001 invoices that any differences caused by amendments to the UN scale will be accounted for in the invoices for 2002.

Decision SC24-27: The Standing Committee requested its Subgroup on Finance to prepare a recommendation on the issue of unpaid contributions for consideration at the 25th meeting of the Committee.

Agenda item 11: the 8th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties

Decision SC24-28: The Standing Committee established a Subgroup on COP8 with the following terms of reference:

1. The tasks assigned to the Subgroup for submission to the year 2000 meeting of the Standing Committee are:

1.1 To prepare, with the assistance of the Ramsar Bureau, a proposal concerning the agenda, programme, and duration of Ramsar COP8, taken into account the need to maintain the right balance and linkages between the technical component of the COP and its policy and administrative components.

1.2 To prepare recommendations on the appropriate mechanisms to deal with some key issues at COP8, such as budget and the consideration and adoption of the Ramsar Strategic Plan 2003-2008.

1.3 To make recommendations on the appropriate timing, content and modus operandi of Ramsar regional meetings that could be held in preparation for Ramsar COP8.

1.4. To analyse the advisability of including in the programme of Ramsar COP8 a "ministerial or high level segment".

2. To approve, on behalf of the Standing Committee, the proposal to be made by the host country, in consultation with the Ramsar Bureau, concerning the dates and venue of Ramsar COP8 in 2002.

3. To prepare for consideration by the Standing Committee any possible recommendation that could be put forward to COP8 in relation to any aspect of future meetings of the Conference of the Contracting Parties.

In addition, the SC appointed the following membership to the Subgroup: Togo for Africa, France for Europe (with Slovenia as observer), Costa Rica for the Neotropics, Mexico for North America (with the USA as observer), with Spain serving as Chair. The Committee agreed that the Subgroup would prepare agenda papers for discussion at a Subgroup meeting which will be held on the one or two days preceding the Subgroup on Finance’s session in advance of the 25th meeting of the Committee in 2000. The Subgroup will be asked to study the "big picture" issues as well as the details of COP8 preparations.

(Note: Asia and Oceania requested an additional two weeks in order to choose their representatives in the Subgroup on COP8.)

Agenda item 12: Next meeting of the Standing Committee

Decision SC24-29: The Standing Committee chose the week of 22-27 October 2000 for its 25th meeting. The advance days allotted to the Subgroups on Finance, Strategic Plan, and COP8 and the meeting’s agenda will be decided later as work progresses.

Agenda item 13.2: Other business – Request from Ducks Unlimited, Inc.

Decision SC24-30: The Standing Committee asked the Bureau to inform Ducks Unlimited of how best to put forward its case for recognition as an International Organization Partner in terms of the criteria in the annex to Resolution VII.3, and requested the Bureau to provide the Standing Committee with an analysis of this case vis-à-vis the criteria. The Standing Committee urged the Bureau to develop a memorandum of cooperation between the secretariat and Ducks Unlimited, without pre-judging the issue of recognition.

Agenda item 13.3: Other business – Continuity and turnover in Standing Committee and STRP

Decision SC24-31: The Standing Committee charged its Subgroup on COP8 with crafting a proposal for consideration before COP8 on possible remedies to the problem of continuity and turnover in the Convention’s bodies.

Agenda item 13.4: Other business – Conventions Support Officer

Decision SC24-32: The Standing Committee endorsed the proposal for the establishment of an Asian Conventions Support Officer at Wetlands International – Asia Pacific.

Approval of the meeting’s report

Decision SC24-33: The Standing Committee adopted the draft report of the first two days of the 24th meeting of the SC, with the amendments communicated to the rapporteur, and authorized the Chairperson to approve sections corresponding to the final day’s report on the Committee’s behalf.

Rapporteur: Dwight Peck, Ramsar.

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