The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 2 December 1998

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.  Some 60 participants made the trip 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]

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, [2/12/98]

Brief summary, with photos, of Anada Tiéga's whirlwind mission through Botswana, Kenya, Senegal, and Niger; National Reports: South Africa [1/12/98]

New Ramsar logo announced.  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]

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.[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. And, here 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

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. [18/11/98]

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. [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 an 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]

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. [4/11/98]

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