The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 2 December 1998
Headline Story: First Oceania Regional Meeting opens in Hamilton, New Zealand: On 1 December, following a colorful opening ceremony (a "powhiri") presided over by a Maori queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu, and a welcoming address from the Hon. Marie Hasler, Associate Minister for the Environment, the meeting set off upon a full agenda which will keep the participants grinning desperately through to Friday. Some 60 participants made the trip -- and for some of them, it was a pretty serious trip, in teensy weensy airplane seats for about a hundred hours -- and they represent the three Ramsar Parties in the region (Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea) as well as the Cook Islands, Fiji, Wallis and Futuna (French territory), Niue, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Kiribati, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Guam (US territory), the Kingdom of Tonga, Tuvalu, the Northern Mariana Islands (US territory), and Vanuatu. Organizations attending, with bells on, include BirdLife International, the secretariat of the Convention on Migratory Species (Bonn Convention), the Society of Wetland Scientists, Wetlands International, and WWF, as well as Ducks Unlimited NZ, Fish and Game NZ, the University of Waikato, the Miranda Conservation Board, the Federation of Commercial Eel Fishers, NZ Federated Farmers, and a number of Maori Trust Boards. The Deputy Secretary General, Bill Phillips, and the Regional Coordinator for Asia, Rebecca D'Cruz, are stirring the pot on the Bureau's behalf, and more results will soon appear here. [2/12/98]
Another Headline Story: CCD's 2nd Conference of the Parties gets off to a good start. The Convention to Combat Desertification opened its 2nd COP on Monday, 30 November, and will keep its collective nose to the grindstone until the 11th of December. Ramsar's Secretary General, Delmar Blasco, and our Regional Coordinator for Africa, Anada Tiéga, are participating in the festivities, and Mr Blasco addressed the plenary session on 1 December -- you can read his statement here at no extra charge. The daily goings on can be followed on the Earth Negotiations Bulletin through the International Institute for Sustainable Development's site, http://www.iisd.ca/desert/cop2/index.html. [2/12/98]
Who's Where . . . . . . .
The Secretary General, Delmar Blasco, and the Regional Coordinator for Africa, Anada Tiéga, are in Dakar for the 2nd COP of the Convention to Combat Desertification. The SG's address to the opening plenary will be posted here tomorrow. Delmar's due back in the Bureau on Monday, the 7th of December, which is a memorial day in the USA but not in Switzerland.
The Deputy Secretary General, Bill Phillips, and the Regional Coordinator for Asia, Rebecca D'Cruz, are in New Zealand for the Oceania Ramsar Regional Meeting, 1-4 December. Afterward, Bill shuffles on to Australia for discussions concerning the planned Virtual Ramsar Site and the new history of Ramsar video, with an additional presentation to a number of NGOs from the Australian Wetlands Alliance, followed by a visit to the Gwydir wetland system in company with WWF, the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, and Environment Australia. He's due back in the Bureau on the 11th.
Young Tim Jones has escaped for a month's extravangantly well-earned holidays, staring at birds no doubt, in Australia, till mid-December, morbidly dwelling upon the workload leading up to COP7.
Web Site Reorganization [or Reorganisation]: That's right, we've set up a new index page for the 7th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, which includes indexes to the documentation for the COP, the National Reports submitted by the Parties, hotel + travel information, background skinny, the whole schmear. You are specially privileged to view it, though as yet it's in its infancy for a little while. [30/11/98]
New Ramsar logo announced. Just when you thought you knew where you stood, the Ramsar Convention announces a new "graphic identity", intended to indicate more convincingly the Convention's new roles in the broad issues of sustainable use of wetlands and water resources. Enacted by Decision 21.4 of the recent Standing Committee, the new logo will be launched on 1 January 1999, and even now, you can read all about it here. [27/11/98]
MKI Travel, Inc., posts hotel and travel stuff for COP7. Calme-toi, all of you who've behaving in an agitated manner in the absence of firm information about hotel costs and options in San José, Costa Rica, for the gala 7th Conference of the Parties set to be visited upon that city in May 1999. The Bureau is still creeping towards mailing out invitations to Contracting Parties, potential observer states, and international NGOs, including all of this information, but now you must ask yourself: WHY WAIT? MKI Travel Inc., of Ottawa, who are handling travel and hotel arrangements for COP7, have set up a brilliant Web site with all the hotel options, maps of the locations, background info (about the currency, tap water, etc.), booking forms, you name it, and you will thrill to see those classy navigation bars. Check it out: http://www.mkitravel.com/conference/ramsarcop799/index.html [27/11/98]
Standing Committee Minutes. Finally, at long last, they've been vetted by everyone who needs to vet them, and compacted and rotated and turned inside out and here they are, the Minutes of the 21st Meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee -- the meeting which set all the vital parameters for the COP in May 1999. The documents approved by SC21 for discussion at COP7 will begin appearing on this Web site over the next month or so. Here are the SC21 Minutes in English, the texts of the decisions only, crossreferenced to the minutes for explanations, and the list of participants-- soon to follow, the minutes and summaries in French and Spanish and, of course, THE PIX. [26/11/98]
Africa sends a message to the world: "wetlands cannot be protected if they are of no value to people". The 2nd International Conference on Wetlands and Development concluded last Saturday in Dakar, Senegal, with the nearly 600 participants reaffirming the vital roles of wetlands in maintaining ecosystems and providing fundamental life support systems. The meeting included workshop sessions that studied Wise Use and participatory approaches to management, integrated water resource management, the status of wetland inventories, migratory waterbird conservation, and financing mechanisms. Each of the workshops provided clear outputs which can be extremely helpful to the evolving Ramsar agenda. Bill Phillips was invited by the final plenary to interpret the Conference results vis-à-vis the Ramsar COP7 in May 1999, and he did so gladly. In his concluding remarks, the Deputy Secretary General (Bill) also urged the 13 non-Ramsar Parties represented at the meeting to join the Convention as a matter of priority, so that the "voice of Africa" can be heard loud and clear at COP7 in May 1999. You and you and you can all, simultaneously if need be, read his remarks, and view a few nice photos of the Ramsar Legion deployed in Dakar, right here. And, in case Bog Forbid you'd forgotten -- here again is the DSG's milestone Dakar reinterpretation of the Ramsar mission in terms of bringing Ramsar values of wise use into the mainstream of national agendas [agendae? Latinists, please reply as a matter of priority]. [18/11/98]
Serious oil spill in the Waddensee. There has been a serious spillage of fuel oil from a cargo ship which ran aground, after an on-board fire which killed one person, in the German sector of the Wadden Sea (a vast intertidal wetland complex shared by Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands, covering some 1,000,000 hectares). Most of the Wadden Sea is included in eight Ramsar sites designated by the three Contracting Parties concerned. The Bahamas- registered transporter ran aground on the edge of a National Park and the Ramsar site known as 'Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer' (i.e. the part of the Wadden Sea which is within the German Land, or province, of Schleswig-Holstein). The Bureau is in contact with the Administrative Authority in Germany, and in the meantime here is a press release and additional background provided by WWF. Status reports are being provided by the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat at http://cwss.www.de/news/MS-Pallas/2oil-info.html. [18/11/98]
Announcement:Sydney Conference begins today. The Water and Wetlands Management Conference begins in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, today and tomorrow, 20-21 November 1998; if you're presently here in Europe and planning to attend, you've probably already missed it, since tomorrow may already be yesterday there. The ambitious programme looks at water reforms in NSW from both the technical and the socio-cultural points of view, and a special module on Ramsar and water considers implementation of the Convention in NSW in particular and Australia in general. Here's some more information on it. [20/11/98]
Announcement:BirdLife International position announced. BirdLife International is seeking a European Conservation Manager for its new office in Wageningen, the Netherlands. [18/11/98] [This position has been filled.]
New intern joins the Bureau. Ms Parastu Mirabzadeh is of Iranian nationality, presently a resident of Canada, and has earned a BSc in Botany in India and an MSc degree in Environmental Sciences in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Whilst employed in the Department of Environment in Iran, she had responsibility for development of Environmental Impact Assessment practices in Iran and prepared a large number of reports and publications. She has also been a project researcher on EIA issues with the University of Putra Malaysia, and served as a Programme Officer in Tehran for the United Nations Development Programme. She succeeds Jamshed Kazi of Bangladesh and arrives in the Bureau just in time to disappear under the paperwork involved in preparing the Pan-Asian Regional Meeting for February. [17/11/98]
Pan-Asian Regional Meeting. The Ramsar Bureau is pleased to announce that the Government of the Philippines has kindly agreed to provide the venue for the Pan-Asian Regional Meeting of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971). The meeting will take place from 22 - 24 February 1999 in Manila, the Philippines. It is expected that at the meeting there will be consideration of the key topics scheduled for discussion at COP7. These will include such issues as Ramsar and Water, mechanisms to enhance regional and transboundary cooperation, how Ramsar can work more effectively in partnership with the other international conventions, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); capacity building for wetland management; and mobilising development assistance.For further information, please contact: Rebecca D’Cruz, Regional Coordinator for Asia email@example.com. [13/11/98]
Mainstreaming Wetland Conservation . . . . On 11 November, at the Board of Members' Meeting of Wetlands International, in Dakar, Senegal, the Deputy Secretary General Bill Phillips presented the keynote paper, entitled "The mainstreaming of wetland conservation and sustainable (wise) use. The Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971): a tool for mainstreaming"-- an important interpretation of the Convention's activities and priorities, phrased in terms of the Strategic Plan 1997-2002, as a key part of global efforts to bring the importance of wetland conservation and sustainable use to the forefront of national agendas. And you and all your friends and relations can read it right here, with a neat introductory statement by the Secretary General. [13/11/98]
Extension of UK ratification. The Ramsar Bureau has been notified by UNESCO that the UK's ratification of the Convention (as amended by the Paris Protocol and Regina Amendments) has been extended to cover the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the British Indian Ocean Territory. This extension will enter into force on 9 January 1999. Both the Bailiwick of Guernsey (part of the 'Channel Islands' group, a few kilometres from the French coast) and the British Indian Ocean Territory (the Chagos archipelago, which lies between five and ten degrees south of the equator in the middle of the Indian Ocean) have coastal habitats which fall within the Ramsar definition of 'wetlands' and sites which reportedly meet the criteria for Ramsar designation. All Overseas Territories of the UK are now covered by the Convention, with the exception of British Antarctic Territory, which is covered by the Antarctic Treaty and its 1991 Protocol on Environmental Protection. [12/11/98]
Management Guidance Procedure to Italy. Five of Italy's 46 Ramsar sites are currently included in the Montreux Record, indicating a need for priority conservation action. Discussions earlier this year between the Ramsar Bureau and the Ministry of Environment, the Convention's Administrative Authority in Italy, determined that three sites (Laguna di Orbetello, Palude della Diaccia Botrona, and Torre Guaceto) could be considered for removal from the Montreux Record as a result of positive management measures. Consequently, a Ramsar mission, in the framework of the Management Guidance Procedure [MGP 40], has been taking place this week in Rome and the two Italian regions concerned, Toscana and Puglia. The Ramsar Bureau's former Senior Policy Advisor, Mike Smart, has been charged with undertaking the mission, as a consultant to the Bureau. Mike's report, including an evaluation of the conservation measures taken, and a series of conclusions and recommendations, will be submitted to the Italian Government and the Ramsar Bureau before the end of November. [7/11/98]
IUCN Gets a New DG. At the 50th anniversary conflagrations in Fontainebleau, the IUCN Council announced the selection of the new Director General of IUCN: Yolanda Kakabadse says that on behalf of the Council of IUCN, "it is my great pleasure to announce that Dr. Maritta Koch-Weser has been appointed as the next Director General of IUCN. Council welcomed her appointment unanimously, following a world-wide search in which many other very well-qualified individuals were carefully considered for this position. She will take up her office on 1 March 1999, following a careful transition which she and David McDowell are arranging. We welcome Maritta to IUCN with enthusiasm. Her curriculum vitae will be sent to you shortly via email." IUCN houses and provides adminstrative services for the Ramsar Bureau, so this is important. [7/11/98]
Reading Alert:French fishponds! The latest issue of the newsletter Zones Humides Infos, published by the wetland expert group set up by the French Ministry of Land-use Planning and Environment, is dedicated to the conservation management of fish pond complexes in France. Find out a little more about it here, then go read the mag. [4/11/98]
Wetland Conservation Award winners announced. After long deliberations, the 21st meeting of the Ramsar Standing Committee succeeded in selecting winners for the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award, out of an impressive host of nominations. In the three categories of awards (individuals, NGOs, and governmental organizations], five winners were chosen -- that's how tough the competition was. In the individuals category, Vitaly G. Krivenko of the Russian Federation shares the Award with Victor Pulido of Peru. In the NGOs category, Lake Naivasha Riparian Association of Kenya shares the prize with Society for the Protection of Prespa in Greece, and in the strange category of Government/Non-governmental Coalitions, the winner is the Pacific Estuary Conservation Program of Canada. The formal announcements, with interviews, photos, videos, testimonials, whatever else may be appropriate, will take place on World Wetlands Day, 2 February 1999, and the actual Awards will be bestowed in the opening ceremonies of the 7th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties, in May 1999 in San José, Costa Rica -- in the meantime, here is an advance briefing on the five winners. [2/11/98]
EU's Water Framework Directive. Approximately 50 people representing national and European NGOs met in Brussels on 22 & 23 October to discuss progress with the European Union's proposed Water Framework Directive. Participants heard detailed presentations from the officials responsible in the European Commission, from a speaker on behalf of the Council of Ministers, and from a number of NGO and water industry representatives. The Directive, currently in draft form, was generally thought by those present to provide a useful framework for addressing water problems in Europe. In particular, the focus on river basin management, and the development of effective and enforceable strategies to secure progressive improvement in the biological and chemical quality of surface water, ground water, and coastal waters, were all welcomed. However, the draft Directive was also criticised as being too weak in relation to some of the goals, targets and timetables it proposes for improvement. Further information about the seminar can be obtained from WWF's European Freshwater Officer, Ms Jane Madgwick (firstname.lastname@example.org). [4/11/98]
International Environmental Law and Policy, text and reference book, has just been published by the Center for International Environmental Law. Here are a description, brief reviews, and the table of contents. [29/10/98]
INFO-COAST '99 1st European Symposium on Knowledge and Information for the Coastal Zone set for Noordwijkerhout, The Netherlands, 11-13 Feb, 1999 -- Details and Registration Form now available! [27/10/98]
2nd International Conference on Wetlands and Development.Simon Nash provides a last-minute teaser on the Dakar conference. [28/10/98]
Tidal Wetlands Impacts Data Home Page launched in the State of Virginia, USA; here's the announcement to the Ramsar Forum. [29/10/98]
Asian Anatidae Atlas Project -- call for information. Here's your chance to get in on the Asian Anatidae action, perhaps. Read this now! [28/10/98]
International Conference on Shallow Tropical Waters and Humans, 11-16 April 1999, Naivasha, Kenya. Here's the skinny. [28/10/98]
More to follow. Watch this space. Feedback and suggestions to: the Ramsar Convention Bureau, Rue Mauverney 28, CH-1196 Gland, Switzerland (tel +41 22 999 0170, fax +41 22 999 0169, e-mail ). Updated regularly by Dwight Peck, Ramsar.