National Planning Tool and National Report format for COP8
National planning tool for the implementation of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands,
based on the approved format for National Reports to be submitted for Ramsar COP8 (Spain, 2002)
For each meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention, countries prepare and submit a National Report detailing their activities undertaken in implementation of the Convention during the triennium since the previous meeting.
Following the adoption of the Strategic Plan 1997-2002 of the Convention at COP6, the Standing Committee decided that for COP7 (Costa Rica, May 1999) the content of the National Report should be based upon the Strategic Plan. This decision signaled a desire on the part of the Convention to use the national reporting process in a more systematic way, in order to assess national, regional, and global progress in implementation of the Convention, and to use this assessment to identify the priorities for each successive triennium.
As a result, at COP7 the Convention was able, for the first time, to quantify the progress made in implementation against nearly 50 indicators. This was facilitated by the fact that all but three Contracting Parties submitted their National Reports on time. In adopting the Conventions Work Plan 2000-2002 (Resolution VII.27), COP7 used the assessment of progress based upon these National Reports to set new global targets.
Resolution VII.27 also included the following two paragraphs relating to the national reporting process leading up to COP8 in 2002: The Conference of the Contracting Parties
13. REQUESTS the Standing Committee, at its 24th meeting, to review the National Report format used for COP7 and to introduce appropriate changes with a view to making the Ramsar COP8 format available in early 2000, so that Contracting Parties wishing to apply this framework can establish and maintain at the earliest opportunity an ongoing record of implementation for national planning and reporting purposes;
14. URGES all Contracting Parties to undertake the preparation of their National Reports for Ramsar COP8 in consultation with their National Ramsar/Wetland Committees, where they exist, and also with all other relevant Government Ministries;
In response to this, the Standing Committee has adopted the attached format for the National Reports, which Contracting Parties are urged to begin using as soon as they receive it as a national planning tool for the implementation of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, so as to "establish and maintain . . . an ongoing record of implementation for national planning and reporting purposes". This action by the Standing Committee indicates a significant shift in the purpose of the national reporting process from the previous one-off preparation every three years of a mere description of actions taken to the dual function of providing a dynamic and ongoing framework for strategic planning and action by national governments, which also meets the obligation to provide a National Report for each meeting of the COP.
National Planning Tool
All Contracting Parties are urged to adopt this comprehensive national planning tool as soon as possible and to use it to identify gaps and areas of highest priority for action against the Conventions Work Plan 2000-2002. This should include the setting of realistic national targets on the basis of the global targets established in the Conventions Work Plan.
The National Reports format is intended to provide a checklist of actions seen as desirable if Contracting Parties are to implement the Convention fully. If the time is taken to complete this form with care, and with broadly-based consultative processes, it will provide a ready-made national strategic plan for implementation of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, with built-in national targets against which progress can be monitored.
Paragraph 14 of Resolution VII.27 also urged Contracting Parties to prepare "their National Reports for Ramsar COP8 in consultation with their National Ramsar/Wetland Committees, where they exist, and also with all other relevant Government Ministries". It is hoped that Contracting Parties will accept this advice with respect to this national planning tool as well, for this will ensure that at the national level a comprehensive understanding is gained of the current status of implementing the Convention, and allow for careful consideration of the future priorities.
National targets and priorities
In establishing national targets and priorities, Contracting Parties may wish to recall that COP7, in paragraph 6 of Resolution VI.27, stated that it was
CONCERNED that the application of the Strategic Plan 1997-2002 has been uneven in the Contracting Parties and that only slow progress has been made, globally, in relation to some of its General Objectives, in particular in relation to the application of economic valuation methods, private sector involvement, introduction of wetlands into formal education programmes, establishment of National Ramsar/ Wetland Committees, training, Ramsar site designations, national inventories, Ramsar site twinnings and designation of transboundary Ramsar sites, harmonised implementation of environment conventions at the national level, the ongoing level of support for the Small Grants Fund, and liaison between Ramsar focal points and their bilateral development assistance agencies.
Also, in paragraph 3 of the same Resolution, COP7 took note "of the recommendations made by the Secretary General in his report to this Conference to further improve the format of National Reports". These recommendations, contained in document Ramsar COP7 DOC. 5, were as follows:
88. The Bureaus conclusion after analysing the NRs is that the new format has allowed for a much more factual and statistical evaluation of the implementation of the Convention in each region and globally.
89. Nevertheless, the analysis also revealed that in many cases the way that the questions were asked led to responses that do not allow establishing a complete and clear picture of the situation, especially when no details have been volunteered to complete the response. This means that the statistics included with the regional overviews might present a picture that is more optimistic that the actual developments.
90. In many cases, the National Reports only reflect what the agency acting as the Administrative Authority of the Convention has done to implement the treaty, but they do not reflect the full spectrum of wetland-related action, positive and negative, that is occurring in the country. Thus, some National Reports could be considered more "agency reports" than "national reports". In some of these cases, while the Bureau is aware of significant developments in wetland-related issues in a particular country, this has not been reflected in the regional overviews, because the official National Report has made no reference to these issues.
91. COP7 may wish to urge Contracting Parties that starting with COP8 the National Reports be prepared with the active involvement of National Ramsar Committees, so as to ensure that they provide a nationwide picture of wetland issues.
Deadline for submission of National Reports for COP8
The dates for COP8 in 2002 in Spain have been set for 18-26 November 2002. In order to allow time for staff to prepare analyses of the National Reports for distribution with the COP documentation, the deadline for submission of reports has been set for 28 February 2002.
Preparation and submission of National Reports
The National Planning Tool is provided to the Administrative Authorities on a floppy disk as two files, in the appropriate working language of the Convention, in Microsoft Word for Windows 6.0/95 and Word 97 formats. These files can also be downloaded from the Ramsar Web site. The Administrative Authority should copy the two files onto a hard disk before setting to work upon them.
In these files, the texts of the questions and explanations are locked, and respondents can move from question to question by using the Tab key or the mouse pointer (the Shift and Tab keys together move backwards from question to questions).
Responses to questions should be entered in the "form fields" following each question, either by choosing a response from the dropdown menu provided or by typing directly into the field.
When the Administrative Authority is ready to submit the National Report to the secretariat, the two files should be sent to the Ramsar Bureau by e-mail attachment or on floppy disk(s), and a printed copy authorized by the head of the Administrative Authority or the relevant Minister should be sent by post.
The National Reports, when officially received by the Ramsar Bureau, will be made available to the public on the Ramsar Web site in both Word and Adobe PDF formats.
Should the Administrative Authority not have access to the necessary computer technology to use this format, please advise the Communications Officer at the Ramsar Bureau, Dr Dwight Peck (email@example.com), and the Bureau will endeavor to provide assistance to overcome these problems, where the resources can be found to do so.
Important Note The Bureau can no longer accept handwritten reports or reports prepared with a traditional typewriter. They must be submitted in electronic form with a hard copy version, verified as authentic and official by either the designated head of the Ramsar Administrative Authority or the relevant Minister.