Ramsar Eastern and Southern Africa Subregional Meeting, 2001 -- Preliminary report
Ramsar Eastern & Southern Africa Subregional Meeting, Lusaka, Zambia, 12-14 November 2001
Eastern and Southern Africa Subregional Meeting on the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
Lusaka, Zambia, 12-14 November 2001
Brief preliminary report
The Ramsar Eastern and Southern Africa Subregional Meeting was officially opened by Hon Abel Chameshi, Minister of the Land of the Republic of Zambia, who expressed his gratitude to the Ramsar Bureau for choosing Lusaka as the venue for the subregional meeting and to the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) for the financial support, which facilitated the holding of the meeting.
The Regional Representative and Vice Chair of the Standing Committee, Mr. Paul Mafabi from Uganda, and Mr. Anada Tiega, Regional Coordinator for Africa in the Ramsar Bureau, outlined the achievements towards implementation of the Convention in the subregion and the challenges ahead.
The Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention, Mr. Delmar Blasco, highlighted the need for more resources both human and financial to facilitate implementation of the Convention by establishing a Convention presence in the regions. He also highlighted the need to integrate wetland issues into the overall sustainable development effort and to use wetlands as valuable assets for poverty eradication and socio-economic development.
This meeting was attended by delegates from the following nine Ramsar Contracting Parties: Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. Seven other African countries which are taking steps to accede to the Ramsar Convention participated in the meeting as well. In addition, two of the four Ramsar International Organization Partners, namely IUCN-The World Conservation Union and the World Wide Fund for Nature International, also took an active part in this meeting through the work of the delegates from their Regional Offices in Nairobi, Kenya, and Harare, Zimbabwe. WWF Headquarters in Switzerland was represented by the Living Waters Programme.
Overall the meeting was a great success, bringing together 50 participants from Eastern and Southern Africa who were able to evaluate national and subregional progress on the implementation of the Ramsar Convention and contribute to the preparation of the major tools to be submitted for consideration and adoption by the 8th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP8) in Valencia, Spain from 18 to 26 November 2002.
Some issues that were discussed as challenges to be addressed in the next triennium were:
The Ramsar Convention should seek to establish a presence in the subregion (Eastern and Southern Africa) so as to increase its profile to ensure more political support for wetland conservation and wise use.
The huge cost of combating alien invasive species in wetlands constitute a area of high priority to be addressed.
There is a significant gap in Eastern and Southern Africa to be filled in terms of membership to the Ramsar Convention, and it was suggested that the Convention work more closely with the existing subregional organizations in order to increase the profile of the Convention and help integrate wetland issues in the work of river/lake organizations and the subregional economic and development institutions, such the Southern African Development and Economic Community (SADEC) and the East African Economic Community (EAEC).
The meeting suggested that the Ramsar Convention include in its future work an action seeking to develop guidelines on prevention and possible responses to emergencies and disasters relating to wetlands, in cooperation with UN system and relevant secretariats.
When a shared wetlands has been designated as a Ramsar site by one or more riparian countries, the relevant Contracting Parties should do their utmost, with the support of the Ramsar Bureau, to encourage designation of the other parts of the wetland by all other relevant countries.
The meeting stressed the need to integrate wetland issues into the overall sustainable development effort and to use wetlands as valuable assets for poverty eradication and socio-economic development.
Finally, the meeting, echoing the South American subregional meeting, called upon the Ramsar Standing Committee to consider the desirability of adding socio-cultural and economic benefits and functions to the Criteria for Identifying Wetlands of International Importance, in light of the pre-eminent importance of issues of human uses of wetlands amongst developing countries.
-- Financial support for the meeting was generously provided by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management.