Standing Committee Subgroup on Finance -- DOC. Finance SG-3

19/04/2002

CONVENTION ON WETLANDS (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)

Meeting of the Standing Committee Subgroup on Finance
Gland, Switzerland, 15 May 2002

Agenda item 3

DOC. FINANCE SG-3

Draft budget for the triennium 2003-2008 for recommendation to COP8
Action requested. The Subgroup on Finance is requested to review again the draft budget for the triennium 2003-2008 and to agree upon a recommendation to COP8 on this matter.

1. At its meeting in December 2001, the Standing Committee adopted Decision SC26-43 as follows: "The Standing Committee accepted the tentative core budget for 2003-2005, as shown in DOC. SC26-26 Addendum, as a basis for further discussion, with the removal of line items with zero allocations. The SC agreed with WWF's suggestion that voluntary support be sought for the proposed Freshwater/STRP Support Officer and agreed to consult with the Subgroup on STRP Support about any possible additional needs."

2. As requested by the Standing Committee, on 15 January 2002 the Secretary General circulated to all Committee members the attached Note on budget issues, which contains at the end the tentative budget considered by the Standing Committee.

3. The Subgroup on Finance should revisit the tentative budget for the triennium 2003-2005 and adopt a recommendation on this matter to Ramsar COP8.


Ramsar core budget for the triennium 2003-2005

Note by the Secretary General [January 2002]


1. At its meeting on 3-7 December 2001, the Ramsar Standing Committee discussed the issue of the budget 2003-2005 that should be submitted to the consideration of the 8th Meeting of the Conference of Parties (Ramsar COP8) to be held in November 2002.

2. The Secretary General had prepared, as the basis for the discussion, two options: a) a budget proposal, based upon the 2002 budget, adjusted for inflation in Switzerland at 2%, plus a 3% increase in the salaries budget line to allow for performance-related salary increases; and b) an "ideal budget" proposal containing a number of increases in the budget that in the opinion of the Secretary General would allow the Convention to operate more effectively.

3. The Standing Committee Subgroup on Finance, after detailed discussions, agreed to propose for further discussion a budget with a 2% increase to cover inflation and a 3% real growth in each year of the triennium 2003-2005.

4. On the basis of this proposal, the Standing Committee "accepted the tentative core budget for 2003-2005" attached to this note "as a basis for further discussion". At the same time the Secretary General was invited to produce a brief note on the finances of the Ramsar Convention. This is that note.

Ramsar, an efficient instrument

5. As stated in the draft of the second Strategic Plan for the implementation of the Convention during 2003-2008, now approved by the Standing Committee for transmission to Ramsar COP8, significant achievements of the Ramsar Convention during the period of implementation of the Strategic Plan 1997-2002 include:

a) 130 States as Contracting Parties to the Convention;

b) a major contribution to increasing the recognition and understanding of the crucial role of wetland functions and services in the daily lives of people;

c) the production of an increasing range of policy and technical guidelines to assist Contracting Parties with implementing the Convention;

d) the adoption by over 50 Contracting Parties of national wetland policies or similar instruments and the establishment by more than 40 Contracting Parties of national Ramsar or wetland committees to ensure that cross-sectoral approaches are taken;

e) the designation by Contracting Parties of 1112 wetlands covering 89,373,560 hectares for inclusion in the List of Wetlands of International Importance (the Ramsar List), and the establishment of management plans for some 50 % of these sites;

f) the lead taken by the Convention in establishing synergies with the conventions that emerged from the Rio 92 process and with other conventions and institutions, so that experiences and achievements may be shared for the benefit of wetland wise use;

g) the help through the Convention to generate more financial resources and technical assistance for wetland projects in developing countries and countries in transition, and since 1990 the operation of the Ramsar Small Grants Fund for Wetland Conservation and Wise Use. The Fund, although as yet modest in scale, has funded 127 projects in some 80 countries;

h) the management by the Ramsar Bureau (the Convention secretariat) for the past eight years, with funding from the U.S. Government, of the Wetlands for the Future Initiative, providing support to 136 training and education projects in 20 Latin American and the Caribbean countries; and

i) the establishment of the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative (MedWet), under the guidance of the Mediterranean Wetlands Committee, as a firm regional expression of the Convention, involving all countries in the Mediterranean basin and the Palestinian Authority, relevant international institutions, and non-governmental organizations.

6. In addition, the Convention bodies, including the Standing Committee, the Scientific the Technical Review Panel (STRP), and its secretariat, the Ramsar Bureau, have received praise for their efficient modus operandi and the high level of their outputs.

7. The Convention's communications and outreach activities have also been commended for creating a new momentum in the awareness about wetland issues, and the Ramsar Web site (www.ramsar.org) is often cited as an example of excellence.

8. Resources have been used strategically to obtain maximum gains and for many years the secretariat has always closed the financial years with a balanced budget.

New approaches and responses

9. Mostly since the accession of a large number of developing countries, starting with Ramsar COP3 in 1987, the Convention has considerably expanded its areas of work. Thus, while it is true that Ramsar is a "single issue" Convention (wetlands), nowadays it has considerably broadened its approach, seeing wetlands not only as a nature conservation issue, but as national assets for sustainable development. The Convention is now fully engaged in issues related to water and coastal zone management, promoting the conservation and wise use of wetlands within the context of river basin and integrated coastal zone management.

10. This much wider approach to wetland issues has been coupled with the considerable increase of Contracting Parties that are developing countries and countries with economies in transition. Of the 130 Parties at present, 100 or so fall in this category and practically all of them expect support from the Convention, of one kind or another, in order to implement the treaty.

11. Ramsar has also been a pioneer in promoting synergies and joint implementation strategies with other Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs). This has also put considerable additional demands in the work of the Ramsar Bureau.

Particular arrangements for the administration of the Convention

12. Ramsar is an intergovernmental treaty operating outside the United Nations system. Article 8 of the Convention says that the secretariat will be provided by IUCN-The World Conservation Union, until two thirds of the Contracting Parties decide otherwise. The status of IUCN in Switzerland is that of a non-governmental organization (NGO). Thus, legally speaking, Ramsar Bureau staff, while serving an intergovernmental treaty, are employees of an NGO.

13. The Ramsar Bureau is independent from IUCN concerning its work plan and budget, which are approved by the Conference of the Parties and supervised by the Standing Committee of the Convention, but Ramsar Bureau staff follow the staff rules and employment practices of IUCN, which are in line with Swiss labour law.

14. This special situation of the Ramsar Bureau provides to the Convention secretariat a considerable degree of flexibility in its operations compared with the secretariats administered by the UN, which are subject to the rules of a much more complex and cumbersome administration, and a more complex political environment.

15. Nevertheless, Ramsar is an MEA of the same nature as CBD, CITES, UNFCCC, CCD and others, and its secretariat, the Ramsar Bureau, must be seen as the secretariat of an MEA, independently of the special nature of its legal situation.

Staffing and financial resources

16. The Ramsar Bureau has evolved from a two-person staff when the treaty came into force in 1975, to the current level of staffing: 12.5 core budget staff positions (two of which are part time), one project-funded position, 4 interns, and one secondment. In addition, a Ramsar unit in Athens, serving the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative, has 3.4 staff members, all of them presently funded by the Greek Government.

17. Since Ramsar COP6 in 1996, when the Convention had 92 Parties, only one new staff position has been created. Today the Convention has 130 Parties, a growth of 38 new countries, all of which are developing countries or countries with economies in transition. At the time of Ramsar COP6, there were 771 sites included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance - today there are 1112 sites in the List: 341 more sites that require Ramsar Bureau attention in relation to their management and conservation status, as required by the Convention. [Note: There are 1150 Ramsar sites as of April 2002.]

18. Ramsar Bureau salaries in 2002 represent 59% of the Swiss francs 3.5 million budget adopted by the Standing Committee. Salaries have been increased modestly since Ramsar COP6 in 1996 to bring them into line with market value salaries in the Geneva region, on the basis of a survey carried out by IUCN including 10 major institutions, but not the United Nations. Nevertheless, some Ramsar staff salaries are still below the market value.

19. Comparison with the salaries in the UN-administered MEA secretariats is not easy, but taking an example, a professional at mid point of a P4 position in the UN has a gross salary of US$ 91,571. A similar position in the IUCN scale applicable to Ramsar staff will be paid US$ 80,364. In addition, UN staff receive a post adjustment of 20% of the salary, and a rental allowance of 28% of the cost of rent. Ramsar staff do not have these benefits.

20. The last two Ramsar COPs in 1996 and 1999 have approved modest budget increases, bringing the following evolution in the core budget paid by Contracting Parties:

000s Swiss francs

1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2312
2658
2785
2900
3045
3106
3168

21. The attached budget, accepted by the Standing Committee at its last meeting (December 2001) as the basis for further discussions, would represent the following increases in the next triennium in the core budget paid by Contracting Parties:

2203
2004
2005
3364
3530
3695

Note: In the attached budget, the forecasted expenditure includes the following additional amounts paid out with the donation of the income tax on staff salaries by the Swiss government and interest earned on deposits:

2203
2004
2005
350
370
400

22. It should be noted that the Ramsar Convention budget continues to be very modest compared with the budgets of most other MEAs: in 2001, for example, the core Ramsar budget was 1.8 million US dollars, while CBD's was 8.6 million.

23. In the attached budget, the suggested additional income in the triennium 2003-2005 has been tentatively allocated to four budget lines (shown in bold letters and figures):

a) costs of maintaining the Ramsar Data Base of Wetlands of International Importance;
b) a new budget line for support to regional initiatives, such as the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative and others under discussion;
c) support to the Working Groups of the Convention's Scientific and Technical Review Panel; and
d) a new budget line to cover part of the costs incurred by the secretariat in the preparation of the meetings of the Conference of the Parties (so far not included in the core budget and covered by the host country of each COP).

24. The Secretary General considers that the decision of the Standing Committee to accept for further discussion a triennial budget that includes a 2% increase for inflation and a 3% real growth in each of the three years represents a very helpful development. A recommendation to COP8 in this direction will continue the positive trend of modest increases in the core budget at each COP in order to respond, at least partially, to the increasing importance of the Convention and its work.


 TENTATIVE CORE BUDGET 2003-2005

(costs in Swiss francs)

2002

2003

2004

2005

EXPENDITURES

 

Approved expenditure

Forecast expenditure

5% Increase

5% Increase

5% Increase

1

STAFF COSTS

a) Salaries and social charges

2,064,000

2,078,670

2,120,243

2,183,850

2,249,365

b) Other employment benefits

190,722

194,536

198,427

202,395

c) Staff hiring and departure costs

10,000

25,000

15,000

15,000

2

SCIENTIFIC & TECHNICAL SERVICES

a) Ramsar Database

140,000

140,000

160,000

180,000

200,000

b) Ramsar Advisory Missions (RAMs)

0

0

 Consultants

3.

SUPPORT TO REGIONAL INITIATIVES

0

70,000

140,000

180,000

4

TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS (International)

104,000

110,000

112,000

120,000

130,000

5

PURCHASE & MAINTENANCE OF EQUIPMENT/ OFFICE SUPPLIES

 21,000

 25,000

 25,000

 28,000

 30,000

 (including depreciation)

6

ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES & OPERATING COSTS

a) IUCN Services

444,000

444,000

452,000

460,000

468,000

b) Operating Costs

129,000

110,000

112,000

112,000

115,000

7

COMMUNICATIONS AND REPORTING

a) Publications

151,000

160,000

160,000

170,000

170,000

b) Newsletter

21,000

25,000

25,000

27,000

0

8

STANDING COMMITTEE & OTHER COMMITTEES

a) SC delegate support

42,000

42,000

42,000

45,000

45,000

b) STRP members’ support

42,000

42,000

42,000

45,000

45,000

c) Support to STRP Working Groups

40,000

30,000

10,000

d) Regional representatives’ support

10,000

10,000

10,000

10,000

9

CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES

a) Cost of the conference

0

0

104,156

115,355

204,853

10

MISCELLANEOUS

a) Bad debt provision

20,000

20,000

20,000

20,000

b) Exchange loss

10,000

 COP7 APPROVED BUDGET

3,168,000

TOTAL FORECAST EXPENDITURE 

3,407,392

3,713,935

3,899,632

4,094,613

 FORECAST INCOME *

3,537,081

3,713,935

3,899,632

4,094,613

* Including Interest & Swiss income tax rebate

5% Increase based on the 2002 forecast income and composed of:

 

2% Inflation

70,742

74,279

77,993

3% Growth

106,112

111,418

116,989

176,854

185,697

194,982

 
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