Africa Ramsar National Focal Points meet at MEA Negotiations Training Workshop to prepare for Ramsar COP11


Ramsar National Focal Points (26 delegates) met on a two-day Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) negotiations training workshop from 2 to 3 March 2012 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The workshop was organised to enhance the capacity of Ramsar National Focal Points to prepare for effective negotiation during the next Ramsar COP11 in Bucharest, Romania. This workshop followed the regional workshop for Africa on “Updating National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan”. 

Group photo of the MEA Negotiations Training Workshop

The Ramsar Secretariat team for Africa, together with UNEP's Division of Environmental Law and Conventions (DELC) identified the need to organise this training workshop on effective preparation to COP11 to follow up on the discussions in Ouagadougou during the African Pre-COP meeting.

During the SC43 meeting and at the time that discussions focused on “Integrated framework for wetland conservation and poverty eradication” (DOC. SC43-22), Tanzania's representative, speaking on behalf of the other members of the Africa group in the room, expressed the need for further advice on how to mainstream such guidance into national programmes on poverty reduction, and he urged that the Draft Resolution (DR) should be revised to guide Parties and stakeholders in that respect. The workshop focused on the Draft Resolution XI.13, “An Integrated Framework for linking wetland conservation and wise use with poverty eradication”, which was also the theme for the simulation exercises. It was thus aimed at enhancing the capacity of Ramsar National Focal Points from African countries to enable them to efficiently prepare themselves, in addition to discussing issues of common interest and possibly agreeing on common positions for effective negotiation at the Ramsar COP11 meeting and future MEA conferences and meetings.

The workshop was based on interactive learning. The sessions consisted of participatory presentations, discussions, experience sharing, role play, informal meetings with the participants and the resource persons as well as a practical simulation on negotiation of COP agenda items and the Draft Resolution on “Integrated framework for linking wetland conservation and wise use with poverty eradication”. The workshop proceedings were principally chaired by Paul Ouédraogo, Ramsar Secretariat, Lara Ognibene and Sylvia Bankobeza, UNEP. The proceedings covered three main areas: opening statements by Ramsar Convention and UNEP, technical presentations and discussions and group exercises and presentations. Presentations were made by Mr Abdoul Salam Kane, National Focal Point of Senegal, Mr Faustin Ondamba, Head of Administrative Authority of Gabon and Mr James Njogu, National Focal Point of Kenya.


The background of environmental diplomacy and the basic steps in preparing for negotiations were covered during this workshop. This included the evolution of the system of multilateral environmental diplomacy and negotiations as well as an overview of this system, its processes and mechanisms. Participants analysed a typical COP Agenda. They got familiar with the Ramsar institutional structure, and previous decisions including the identification of key issues (both those that are likely to create controversies and those of priority for Africa). The importance of the COP Agenda and how to prepare for Agenda items were also addressed. The simulation exercise on negotiation using the Ramsar Draft Resolution on Poverty was very significant in preparing all the participants for better inputs at COP11.

Participants identified a need for a champion to take the lead in promoting the implementation of the Convention in Africa and play an advocacy role in the countries. The choice of the champion will be made within the political authority at the highest level and approved by an African regional meeting. Members of Parliament can also be chosen to lobby in favour of the implementation of the Convention in Africa.

This workshop took place at a time when Ramsar and CBD are working for better synergy to update and implement the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans at national level. This was an opportunity for the Ramsar Convention and CBD to bring together their strengths and jointly implement the new Biodiversity Strategic Plan. A very important outcome is the full involvement of Ramsar National Focal Points in the review of the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans.

The workshop was made possible by financial support from UNEP's Division of Environmental Law and Conventions (DELC).

Report by Paul Ouédraogo, Senior Advisor for Africa at the Ramsar Convention Secretariat

For more information, see the full workshop report here.

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