Report on the 1st Oceania Regional Meeting, December 1998

24/12/1998

The First Oceania Regional Meeting

The island states of Oceania make their presence felt

Congratulations to New Zealand for providing the ideal setting for the extensive and lively discussions which took place at the 1st Oceania Regional meeting in Hamilton from 1-4 December 1998.

Attended by representatives of 9 countries, 3 dependent territories and 17 international, regional, national and local organisations (both government and non-government), the meeting reviewed the priorities for wetland conservation and wise use under four themes which will also be on the table at COP7 next year.

Not surprisingly, the special circumstances and needs of the Small Island Developing States of the region was a recurring theme and the meeting made a number of strong recommendations directed at making the Ramsar Convention better suited to these priorities. It is expected that these recommendations will be finalised in early 1999 and made available here for all to see. The other SIDS will no doubt be very interested!

What were some of the take home messages from the meeting?

1. the region strongly supports Ramsar’s efforts to promote more integrated implementation of international environment conventions, especially through the Joint Work Plan with the CBD;

2. bottom-up approaches to wetland management are the norm in the region, for various reasons, and the Convention needs to modify some of its papers going to COP7 to reflect this regional perspective more clearly;

3. several SIDS are actively pursuing Ramsar membership;

4. New Zealand may be Ramsar’s best kept secret;

5. Ramsar needs to ensure that its plethora of guidelines and tools are presented within a total framework or context for implementation;

6. Ramsar, SPREP, WWF, Wetlands International, BirdLife International and others need to develop an arrangement to allow for cooperation and partnership approaches to implementing projects relating to wetlands;

7. Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, as presently the three Ramsar Contracting Parties in the region, were urged to take forward the recommendations from the meeting to COP7, as best they could within their respective national delegations.

-- reported by Dr Bill Phillips, Deputy Secretary General

Opening address by Hon. Marie Hasler, Associate Minister for the Environment Statement to the final plenary session by Dr Bill Phillips, Deputy Secretary General Recommendations adopted by the 1st Oceania Regional Meeting
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