World Wetlands Day 1998 at the Ramsar Bureau
What is World Wetlands Day? At the 19th meeting of the Standing Committee, in late October 1996, World Wetlands Day was officially designated for 2 February of every year, the anniversary of the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in 1971, as an opportunity for governments, organizations, and citizens to undertake big and small actions intended to raise public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular. In February 1997, only a few months later, a considerable number of countries undertook a wide range of activities aimed at using WWD to raise public awareness, and the great hope is that the response will be even better in 1998.
What is the Ramsar Bureau doing for World Wetlands Day this year? Earlier in the year, the secretariat produced a leaflet with suggestions for WWD activities and, more recently, we have been distributing thousands of these nifty 80x60cm posters [left] for display all over the world. As the day has been drawing nearer, the Bureau has been putting together a collection of useful materials, like press releases from other organizations, activities from 1997, and what not, and compiling a list of all the planned activities reported to us, and in the aftermath we will continue by reporting on how they all turned out. We earnestly encourage you, too, to drop us a note about any WWD '98 activities you may have been involved in or know about. Check out these pages when you have a free moment -- just push these colorful little Ramsar buttons:
But be that as it may, what else is the Ramsar Bureau doing for WWD '98?
Exhibit A -- Materials for the press
Following up on the success of the Bureau's press release for WWD '97, this year we have provided two press materials, each in the three languages of the Convention. The first is an inspirational message of encouragement from the Secretary General to all those in the field who are taking advantage of World Wetlands Day to reach a wider audience for the message of wetland values and benefits. The second is a background paper filled with scary facts and quotable reflections, suitable for borrowing by anyone at a temporary loss for words, written by the Secretary General with grateful reliance upon material supplied by Doug Hulyer and Ken Lum. Make any use of these pieces that you think might be helpful.
Message de Delmar Blasco, Secrétaire général
Secretary General's message on WWD '98
Mensaje de Delmar Blasco, Secretario General
Une toute petite goutte d'eau
Background paper: "Only one drop of water"
Tan Sólo una gota de agua
Exhibit B -- Launch of the "Evian Project"
More than a few years in the planning and development, the Evian Project came into being in Paris on 27 January 1998 through the Secretary General's signing of an agreement with the Government of France, the Conservatoire du Littoral, the French Global Environment Facility, and the Danone Group (France). Six action themes are planned, focused chiefly upon communcations and training activities in aid of the Ramsar Convention and wetland conservation, together with the development of a wetland information center in a restored manor on the southern (French) shores of Lake Geneva (Lac Léman) near the town of Evian, France. The Evian Project marks the first involvement of the corporate sector directly in the work of the Convention in an important way.
Exhibit C -- Launch of the Ramsar "Wetland Conservation Award"
In Resolution VI.18 the Contracting Parties, meeting in Brisbane in March 1996, approved the idea of the Wetland Conservation Award and instructed the Bureau and the Standing Committee to bring the concept into being. In Decision 20.10 (October 1997), the Standing Committee approved the rules and regulations and gave the final go-ahead, so here we are -- on the occasion of World Wetlands Day '98, the Bureau will send the formal announcement of the Award to the Contracting Parties by diplomatic notification, and the excellent, colorful brochure, produced by L'IV Communications in Morges, will be available to the public. The brochure includes a description of the Award's high and noble purpose and its rules, and includes as well a tear-off nomination form for handy use in recommending worthy candidates. The text of the brochure is reproduced here in the three Ramsar languages.
Prix Ramsar pour la conservation des zones humides
Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award
Premio Ramsar a la conservación de los Humedales
Exhibit D -- Launch of the Ramsar Wise Use Resource Centre
All members of the "Ramsar family" are dedicated to the principles of "wise use", first outlined in Article 3.1 of the Convention (1971) and later defined as the sustainable utilization of wetland resources in such a way as to benefit the human community while maintaining their potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations – a concept that was at the time of the signing of the Convention a revolutionary concept in conservation thinking and is still vitally important to the future of our planet. In 1990 and 1993 the Contracting Parties articulated "guidelines" and "additional guidance" for the implementation of the wise use concept, but these are quite abstract and fairly general, and the need has long been felt for a body of more concrete materials to assist those who are charged actually to bring the concept to life in their planning and their daily management decisions. Thus the inauguration of Ramsar’s Wise Use Resource Centre.
The Wise Use Resource Centre will, at least in the early days, embody four sections, to wit: 1) The Wetland Experts Database, created with funding assistance from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and designed to link wetland managers and project planners with expert consultants in their areas; 2) The "Hot Topics" column, wherein the Bureau will seek your advice about the current good science on key policy and technical issues in wetland management and post the results and references here; 3) The Wise Use Resources Library, a collection of Web-reprints of manuals, guidelines, and assorted pamphlets generated regularly by government agencies and NGOs all over the world and heretofore languishing upon dusty shelves thereafter, addressing all those management problems we always wish we could get timely help on. Well, here's the timely help [Well, here's the timely help . . . soon; it's on its way; just visible on the horizon.]. And 4) a dynamic catalogue of training opportunities for wetland managers.
Start here with a descriptive overview of the Wise Use Resource Centre by its creator, Bill Phillips, the Convention's Deputy Secretary General, and then link inward from there if we have the links going by the time you read this.
Exhibit E -- Launch of a new effort for the Small Island Developing States
At the Ramsar Conference in Brisbane, Australia, in 1996, the Convention adopted its Strategic Plan. Under Objective 1 of the Plan - "To progress towards universal membership of the Convention" - it was noted that very few of the small island states were Contracting Parties. This situation continues today despite the growth of the Convention to 106 Contracting Parties. To help to extend the benefits of Ramsar membership to these areas, the Bureau is launching new efforts to bring the Small Island Developing States, especially in the Caribbean and South Pacific, into the Ramsar family and the international wetland wise use community. As part of the Bureau's World Wetlands Day commemoration, we unveil a special publication aimed at persuading the SIDS governments to contemplate joining the Convention soon, and link it to an excellent case study report by Dave Pritchard of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds on his sabbatical term (assisted by Ramsar funding) helping Trinidad and Tobago develop its National Wetland Policy. You can congratulate yourself heartily that you are now able to read both of these papers here, and share them with your friends and associates.
Ramsar's paper on the Small Island Developing States:
an introductory note