Minutes of the 7th Meeting of the Scientific and Technical Review Panel -- Appendix I


The 7th Meeting of the STRP was held in Gland, Switzerland, 22-23 April 1997.  In Decision STRP 7.6, concerning Criteria for Identifying Wetlands of International Importance, invited expert Bronwen Golder was asked to submit her oral contributions in written form for inclusion with the minutes of the meeting.  -- Web Editor.

Appendix I to the minutes of the 7th Meeting of the STRP

Set out below are the comments and recommendations of Bronwen Golder, Manager of Capacity Building at WWF International, as presented to the STRP meeting on April 22 1998. They relate directly to the question of criteria for recognising cultural values and/or benefits derived from wetlands that STRP was asked to consider.

1. The criteria as they currently stand would appear to reflect the intention of Article 2.2 of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, specifically that the designation of Wetlands of International Importance is made according to natural science standards.

2. This standard for the designation of wetlands is considered rigorous within the context of a "conservation" convention, and establishes clear parameters within which subsequent decisions regarding the designated wetland are undertaken.

3. The designation of a wetland under existing criteria can be seen as the first step along a conservation and sustainable development continuum, one that can be expected to expand in depth and diversity as one moves from the point of designation to consideration of such issues as human activity and its impact on the wetland, economic use, and cultural values associated with the site.

3. Once a site of international importance has been identified using existing scientific criteria, it is necessary to give serious consideration to all those socio-economic and cultural issues and values that will impact the development and implementation of a management plan for the wetland.

4. An effective response to the socio-economic and cultural issues and challenges that arise along the sustainable development "continuum" does not require an amendment of the existing criteria, but rather, a strengthening and enhanced promotion of the "wise use principles" that have been developed to operate alongside the Ramsar site selection criteria.

5. The Wise Use Principles should underscore the importance of socio-economic and cultural values in the development of management plans for designated Wetlands of International Importance. Dedicated application of enlightened wise use principles (which embrace the concepts of sustainable and traditional use) should serve to widen the scope and quality of decisions taken about the development of management plans for any identified site.

7. Application of such Wise Use Principles – unlike socio-economic criteria, which could be completely ignored if alternative criteria were used to establish the terms of reference for selection of a site – should be considered mandatory in the management and/or sustainable use of all Wetlands of International Importance. All conservation planning for those designated sites should take into account, and be filtered through, socio-economic and cultural assessments and situation analysis.


Based on the understanding that existing Ramsar criteria for identification of Wetlands of International Importance are consistent with the intended focus and scope of this Ramsar Convention, I would recommend that criteria based on socio-economic and cultural values not be included in the criteria for identification of Wetlands of International Importance.

Rather, it is strongly recommended that the Wise Use Principles associated with the Convention on Wetlands be significantly strengthened in relation to socio-economic and cultural values and considerations, and that application and realisation of those principles be made mandatory in relation to all site management and sustainable use planning.

 Bronwen Golder
Manager, Capacity Building
WWF International

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