Ramsar Address to the 2nd Conference of the Parties to the CCD
Second Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to
the Convention to Combat Desertification
Statement by Delmar Blasco,
Secretary General of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
Dakar, Senegal, 1 December 1998
Greetings to the Chairman, the host country and to the Executive Secretary of CCD.
As at your First Conference of the Parties in Rome last year, the Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands is again here to convey to you the same simple message: we are ready to join forces with you to work together to maintain and restore habitats that are essential to secure a sound resource base for peoples development and well being.
To secure the good health of wetlands is our business, not only because healthy wetlands contribute to preserving biodiversity on this planet, but also because they must be protected as part of the natural assets of our countries that can be used to promote and sustain development.
As we stated in the document on "Wetlands of the arid zones", which we circulated to your first COP in Rome, "There may be thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands of wetlands in each of the worlds arid areas ranging in size from small clay pans to large lakes." And we added: "The lack of knowledge about the worlds arid zone wetlands does not reflect their conservation importance. Some of the most important wetlands are in the arid zone." On this continent alone, the Okavango Delta in Botswana, the Kafue Flats in Zambia, the Hadejia-Jamaare in Nigeria, Lake Turkana, and Lake Chad are very good examples.
Our Convention exists to contribute to their conservation and sustainable use. Thus, the Ramsar Convention should be a natural ally to the Convention to Combat Desertification.
One hundred thirteen countries have joined the Convention on Wetlands. Most of them are also Parties to your Convention. It makes good sense that the application of the two treaties should be harmonized and coordinated at the national level, and that at the level of the Secretariats we make a true effort to assist you in that endeavour.
The CCD Secretariat has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Ramsar Convention has done the same, and now I am very pleased to announce that your Secretary General and I have also agreed on the text for a Memorandum of Cooperation between Ramsar and CCD.
I very much hope that once it is signed, our MOU will be translated into real joint assistance to you, the Contracting Parties, and through the Governments to the people of your nations.
We have been talking about synergy among the environment-related conventions for a while now. We have to make it happen, soon, effectively, in all possible areas. I would invite you to consider establishing at the country level working parties bringing together the institutions and officers responsible for the conventions, so that duplication can be avoided and resources put together. The sum is always more significant, greater and more powerful than each one of the individual components of the equation.
I wish you to achieve as much progress as possible here in Dakar in the road to combating desertification. From the richness of the wetland habitats we are ready to go with you, hand in hand, further along that road.