The Ramsar Bulletin Board, 2 December 2002
Ramsar COP8 is over now, and many Bureau staff members will be back at their desks on Monday, 2 December. More photos of the events will begin appearing here soon, and of course work is now beginning on the COP Proceedings, with the final texts of the Resolutions adopted in the last two days. In the meantime, daily reports and an analytical summary of the whole COP are available from the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, www.iisd.ca.
Ramsar staff members make a subtle statement about the end of the long COP by donning their festive COP8 T-shirts in the corridor of the COP8 offices, late on 26 November.
Nick Davidson, Deputy Secretary General, is in Montreal, Canada, for a CBD Ramsar workshop on the rapid assessment of inland waters biodiversity; he'll be back in the Bureau on 6 December. [02/12/02]
Margarita Astralaga, Regional Coordinator for the Americas, is in Iquique, Chile, for the Regional Workshop on High Andean Wetlands, 5-6 December, followed by a visit to the El Salar del Huasco Ramsar site, where a GEF project is presently being implemented and a Ramsar SGF project is soon to begin. On 9 December she will be participating in a stakeholders' meeting to discuss draft strategy on a project with CONAF-Chile on conservation and management of the high Andean wetlands in the north of Chile. [02/12/02]
News from the COP.Last two Technical Sessions, and the signing of a new MOC. Day 5, 22 November, covered the last two of the five Technical Sessions, a large number of side events, and, as a bonus, the signing of a Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ramsar Bureau and the Institute for Inland Water Management and Wastewater Treatment (RIZA) based in the Netherlands. Some of the day's photos are available here, and so is the text of the new MOC. For further details on the day's events, consult the ENB's daily reports at http://www.iisd.ca. [23/11/02]
News from the COP.Two more Technical Sessions down, and two to go. Day 4, 21 November, began at a very early hour for a catch-up plenary session for last Tuesday's review of a number of Draft Resolutions and Recommendations, and then got into Technical Session 2: "Baselines for sustainable use: wetland inventory and assessment" for the rest of morning, and spent the afternoon with Technical Session 3: "Global biological diversity and sustence of human life: the Ramsar List of International Importance". Both Tech Sessions, in their regional break-out meetings, made further progress in negotiating amendments to the Draft Resolutions under study. The side events, which were many and varied, included a presentation on lake biodiversity conservation and Ramsar linkages by LakeNet, an IUCN discussion on NEPAD water and environment programmes, Wetlands International's introduction to the Asian Wetland Inventory, presentations on shrimp aquaculture by the Industrial Shrimp Action Network and the Mangrove Action Project, an introduction to the new database system by the UNEP/Global Environment Facility Coordination, and a Ramsar and UNCTAD BIOTRADE presentation on sustainable trade in wetland products, among many others. Here are some photos of the festivities -- for details on the issues, consult the ENB's daily reports at http://www.iisd.ca. [22/11/02]
News from the COP.Tech Session I and the side event with the dates. Day 3, 21 November, was devoted to regional meetings in the morning, which allow the Parties with like geographical problems and perspectives to share their own experiences in implementing the Convention, and, in the afternoon, to the first of the five Technical Sessions: "Major challenges and emerging opportunities for wetlands, water and sustainability". Following five presentations by invited experts, covering the texts and guidance in Draft Resolutions, the plenary broke into four regional groupings to discuss the drafts further, eventually to conflate their regional perspectives into common amendments to the draft texts in the coming days. In addition, there was the usual rich array of side events, almost frustratingly too many for the participants to choose among, and the exhibit hall continued to attract large numbers of astonished gawkers. Algeria's side event on the Ouled Said Oasis drew a good crowd to hear the discussion and mainly to eat up all the dates. Here's a representative sampling of photos from the whole day. [21/11/02]
News from the COP.Already a bit behind schedule. Day 2, 20 November, continued the fun of the opening day but left administrative details behind in favor of the substantial business of the meetings. Following the morning's Report of the Secretary General on implementation of the Convention, filled with what he called 'challenges for the Parties' in the next triennium, an extraordinary number of CPs offered reports of their own efforts in support of the Convention's objectives, in many cases pledging specific further actions over the next triennium. Introductions were made to the draft Strategic Plan 2003-2008 and Work Plan 2003-2005, so that further contact group negotiations could be got underway over the course of the week, and the Standing Committee gave a financial report for the past year and offered a budget proposal for the next triennium. In the final business of the plenary's work, first considerations were made of a large number of the draft Resolutions and Recommendations that will be further discussed in the coming days.
The plenary session also heard an address by Dr Angela Cropper on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and its relevance to the Convention, and Ms Inés González Doncell, Director General of Nature Conservation in the Ministry of Environment of Spain, made a special presentation on wetland conservation in Spain, which included the announcement of 11 new Ramsar sites, bring the COP host's total Ramsar area to 173,000 ha. The many many side events included presentations on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the launch of the 7th Directory of Wetlands of International Importance by Wetlands International, a presentation on the restoration of Chilika Lake in India, the launch of the 3rd Waterbird Population Estimates, also by Wetlands International, discussion of coral reef conservation with WWF International, and many others. Some photos are available here. [20/11/02]
News from COP8.Opening ceremonies and first day's business. The first official day of Ramsar COP8 passed eventfully on 18 November, with a great deal of administrative business to get out of the way, well mixed with ceremonial occasions and welcoming speeches, along with an artistic performance on the water outside the venue and a lively reception in the Museum. Here are a few photo highlights of the day -- for a thorough report and analysis of the day's work, please consult the Web pages of the IISD's Earth Negotiations Bulletin, http://www.iisd.ca. In addition, here is the text of the address of Dr Claude Martin of WWF International on behalf of the Convention's four International Organization Partners (BirdLife, IUCN, Wetlands International, and WWF) in English and Español. [19/11/02].
News from COP8. Ramsar COP8 gets underway in Valencia. The past few days have gone by in a frenzy in Valencia, as the city's enormous and impressive Museum of Sciences has been converted into a convention centre virtually overnight. Sunday, 17 November, saw registration for most delegates and observers, some 1,200 people. We've also had a successful 27th meeting of the Standing Committee, as it transformed itself into the Conference Committee and ironed out the COP's programme, as well as a very successful meeting on a draft action plan for Africa's wetlands under the framework of the New Partnership for Africa's Development -- and the pre-COP Global Biodiversity Forum drew to a close in its third day, including the Ramsar workshop on communications, education, and public awareness. Today, 18 November, will see the Opening Ceremonies, featuring greetings from local and regional officials, Spain's Minister of Environment, and HRH Prince Felipe of Spain, a noted conservationist in his own right. Other speakers later today include HE Philippe Roch, Secretary of State for the Environment, Forests and Landscape of the Bureau's host country, Switzerland, and Dr Claude Martin, Director General of WWF International, speaking on behalf of the Convention's four International Organization Partners (BirdLife, IUCN, Wetlands International, and WWF). At the end of the day, after some basic COP housekeeping agenda items, the Government of the Autonomous Community of Valencia will host a welcoming reception for all the participants, and on Tuesday the 19th the real work begins. A few photos of the set-up can be seen here. [18/11/02]
Headline story. Earth Negotiations Bulletin reporting from COP8. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin team is producing daily reports from COP8, as well as photos and Real Audio recordings of key speeches. A report of each day's events is prepared overnight, and a summary report and analysis of the entire COP will be available 48 hours after the end of the last day. Whilst the Ramsar Bureau will be posting news at the end of each day as well, the expert ENB reporting team is capable of providing much more detail and much much more candor. To catch up with the latest news throughout the Conference of the Parties, visit http://www.iisd.ca/ramsar/cop8.[18/11/02]
From the Ramsar Forum.WWF stresses importance of Ramsar COP8. In a posting to the Ramsar Forum as well as to the Opinion Editorial pages of WWF's Panda Web site, Mr Jamie Pittock, Director of WWF International's Living Waters Programme, outlines his organization's views on the importance and relevance of the Ramsar Convention, especially in the follow-up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and emphasizes the importance of COP8 (Valencia, 18-26 November 2002) for the continued growth and evolution. Here is a reprint of Jamie's editorial. [14/11/02]
World Wetlands Day looming just over the horizon. Over the past six years, World Wetlands Day has been celebrated by government agencies, NGOs, and local groups on or about 2 February annually, and the Bureau has been able to report on a growing number of activities each year, as accounts and photos have been submitted to us, in some 70 countries at last count. For WWD2003, the Standing Committee has suggested a theme of "No wetlands - No water!", in honor of the UN's International Year of Freshwater, and friends of wetlands who take up this theme in February can count themselves as part of the first IYF-related activities of the year. Ramsar staff have been a bit preoccupied this year with preparations for COP8 in Valencia, but nonetheless, through the indefatigable efforts of Sandra Hails, Delmar Blasco, and Publicitron S.A., and with financial support from the Ramsar Evian Project of the Danone Groupe, this year we are offering an informative new poster on freshwater issues (with additional info sheets to accompany it) and a new brochure on the meaning and importance of Ramsar sites for wetland sustainable use, both in English, French, and Spanish. There is also a new video on Ramsar and freshwater issues, produced in the same languages by TVE, ready in early December, but because of its cost this is intended only for large group and multiple showings and thus will be less widely available. We also have stock remaining of some of the World Wetlands Day posters and information packs from the past few years, and these can be requested at the same time. Our Web pages on WWD2003 are only partially built at this point, but you can get a sense of what's on offer and read some semi-eloquent prose in the meantime, including the Inspiring Letter [E, F, S]. Naturally, if you choose to order your World Wetlands Day materials straightaway (at email@example.com), you will nod in benign understanding if they do not arrive on your doorstep immediately -- most of our staff will be returning from Spain in early December. Here is the semi-finished WWD2003 index page. [13/11/02]
Values and Functions fact sheets available in Thai. Mr Asae Sayaka writes from Prince of Songkla University that the Wetlands International Thailand Programme has produced Wetland Education Kits aimed at elementary schools in Thailand, comprising learning modules and teachers' notes, exercises, a board game, and posters on the fish and biodiversity of Thale Noi, amongst other things. In addition to the kit, WI has published a Thai language version of the Ramsar Values and Functions of Wetlands information pack (left), based upon the Bureau's World Wetlands Day 2001 publication but amended somewhat to provide more examples and photographs from the Thailand experience. The development of the kits and info pack was carried out with financial support from the British Embassy in Bangkok. More information can be gained from Asae Sayaka, firstname.lastname@example.org. (The Ramsar Bureau makes available the original Values and Functions files in QuarkXpress to those who wish to adapt them to their own languages and situations.) [12/11/02]
India's Chilika Lake removed from the Montreux Record. In June 1993 the Ministry of Environment and Forests (the Ramsar Administrative Authority in India) requested that Chilika Lake be placed on the Montreux Record of Ramsar sites undergoing adverse changes in ecological character and identified a number of factors contributing to that unhappy situation. Following some years of innovative and exemplary remedial efforts by the Chilika Development Authority (CDA) with significant national support, a request to remove Chilika from the Montreux Record was submitted tothe Ramsar Bureau on 30 April 2001. The request was accompanied by formal submission of the Montreux Record Questionnaire, which outlined the management actions that had been taken to resolve the threats to the ecological character of the lake, to the reasons for which it had been listed as internationally important, and to its ability to provide for the well-being of the surrounding communities. In response to this formal request, a Ramsar Advisory Mission (comprising Ramsar's Najam Khurshid, consultant Max Finlayson, and Siddharth Kaul of India) visited Chilika Lake to review the management actions undertaken and the reported improvements and to prepare a report as a basis for consideration of removal of the site from the Montreux Record. RAM no. 50 was carried out 9-13 December 2001 and concluded that, given a commitment to future actions on a number of points, the site should be removed from the Record and that India's course of action should be promoted by the Convention as a best-practice case study. The RAM Mission report is now available on this Web site. Accordingly, Chilika Lake has been removed from the MR as of today, 11 November 2002. As a result of its comprehensive technical and socio-economic efforts, with impressive community and stakeholder involvement, the Chilika Development Authority is one of the winners of the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award, which will be presented to its executive director A. K. Pattnaik (right) at Ramsar COP8 on 18 November 2002 in Valencia. That story, with photos, is available here. [11/11/02]
Comunicado de prensa. En el marco de Convenio de Cooperación entre el CED y el Liceo Padre Alberto Hurtado de Pica. En Iquique y Pica se inicia programa de educación ambiental para la conservación de la biodiversidad del Salar del Huasco.
Now available.Agenda and documents for the Ramsar / UNEP workshop on African wetland management under NEPAD. One of the most important Pre-COP8 events will be the Ramsar - UNEP co-sponsored workshop on 17 November on "Developing further the Plan of Action to implement Africa's wetland management strategy under the Environmental Initiative of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development)", and here we have the workshop agenda, with a summary paper succinctly entitled "Twelve important issues to be considered for developing further the Plan of Action to Implement Africa's Wetland Management Strategy under the Environmental Initiative of NEPAD", and with a large background document entitled "Thematic paper on management of Africa's wetlands", and of course with the draft Plan of Action itsownself. Participants are explicitly asked to be familiar with these papers before showing up at the meeting, and to show up early because of security arrangements at the venue. Here's the agenda and links to the papers (English, Français). [08-12/11/02]
Announcement. With the passing of the deadline for registration for Ramsar COP8, 30 October 2002, the on-line registration forms have been de-activated. Delegates from Contracting Parties exclusively are requested to send their registration forms by fax/email before 10th November 2002, if not already done. Media registration should be made through the Press Department of the Ministry of Environment of Spain. You should fax a letter from your agency, newspaper or media outfit, with a copy of the registration form, requesting accreditation, and then send the original by post or special courier. Correspondence should be addressed to: Sra. Rosa Pradas, Gabinete de Comunicación, Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, Plaza de San Juan de la Cruz, s/n, 28071, Madrid España, Tel: +34-91 597 68 00 / 67 07, Fax: +34 91 597 59 08, email: email@example.com. [31/10/02]On-line COP8 registration has been de-activated.
Now available. Statistical overviews of the National Reports for COP8. Carlos Villalba, seconded to the Ramsar Bureau by the Government of Spain, has been in charge of developing a database of National Report information, and now he has produced statistical overviews of all of the NRs globally and by region, complete with tables and very colorful pie charts all over the page. These are provisional at this point and will later be updated with any further information emerging from the 8th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, due to begin in fewer than two weeks, alas. Here's an index to the available summaries. [08/11/02]
MAB Europe - Ramsar meeting in Czech Republic. "The Role of Wetlands in Biosphere Reserves" was the theme of a EuroMAB workshop convened by the Czech National Committee for the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, the Czech National Ramsar Committee, and the Pálava Biosphere Reserve from 13-18 October in Mikulov Castle, Southern Moravia. About 70 participants from 19 European, Central Asian and North American countries presented papers and posters and debated the following themes: a) wetlands as sources of biodiversity in Biosphere Reserves, b) buffering effects of wetlands on water budget and water quality in Biosphere Reserves and the role of water resources (including groundwater) for wetland maintenance, c) management (including restoration) of wetlands for sustainable functioning in Biosphere Reserves, and d) resolution of conflicts between economic use and environmental quality of wetlands in Biosphere Reserves, towards the application of the "wise use" concept. Among them were many Ramsar national focal points and wetland and Ramsar site managers who contributed their specific experience to the interesting debates. The workshop conclusions are available at http://ramsar.org/mtg_czech_mab2.htm. Therein, eight action points listed for increased cooperation between MAB and Ramsar are most noteworthy. More about UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere programme and possible synergies to improve efficiency can be found on the joint Ramsar-MAB Web site at: www.unesco.org/mab/ramsarmab.htm. Tobias Salathé reports, with photos. [06/11/02]
"Ramsar - has it made a difference?" The 2002/03 edition of the important Yearbook of International Cooperation on Environment and Development (Earthscan, 2002) has just been published and carries, amongst insightful summaries of all the major MEAs and NGOs presently working in the field (including Ramsar), a feature article by Michael J. Bowman, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Nottingham and Director of the University of Nottingham Treaty Centre, entitled "The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands: Has it Made a Difference?". Dr Bowman's paper supplies a thorough survey of the history and structure of the Convention, and a sophisticated assessment of its effectiveness so far. The fact that it's not quite the panegyric that I would have written for the same purpose makes it all the more valuable, coming as it does from an outside expert in the international environmental law community. With the kind permission of Michael Bowman and editor Oystein B. Thommessen of the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, which prepares the Yearbooks (formerly called the Green Globe Yearbooks), we've reprinted this valuable article in Web and PDF formats for the edification of both students and experts alike. [31/10/02]
Australian project tests way to describe ecological character. Bill Phillips, erstwhile Deputy Secretary General of the Convention, has announced the completion of a project to develop a methodology for assessing the baseline ecological character of a Ramsar site. He writes to the Ramsar Forum, "Forum members may be interested in a recently completed project by a team of scientists in Australia who set out to design a datasheet to standardise the collection of data for benchmarking the ecological character of Ramsar sites across the country. The drivers for this project were a desire to have this fundamental descriptor information gathered systematically to allow early warning of change and also to establish baselines for long-term monitoring and determining impacts." The project's Executive Summary (included here) continues: "The act of designating a wetland as a Ramsar site carries with it certain obligations, including to manage the site to retain its 'ecological character' and to have procedures in place to detect if any threatening process are likely to or have already altered the 'ecological character'. Therefore, describing the 'ecological character' of a Ramsar site is a fundamental management tool for Parties which should form the baseline or benchmark for management planning and action, including site monitoring to detect negative impacts." Bill's message provides the broad outlines of the methodology that has been developed, and the proposed datasheet itself is attached here in Word format. [30/10/02]
Bureau gets New Regional Coordinator for Asia. The Bureau is delighted to announce that, following interviews last week with five extraordinarily strong candidates, the position of Regional Coordinator for Asia has been accepted by Dr Guangchun Lei of China. He will be replacing Najam Khurshid, who returns to his native Pakistan following two and a half years of service with the Bureau. Following completion of his bachelor's and master's degrees in Forest Protection at Central South Forestry University in China, Dr Lei served from 1988 to 1993 as Chief of the Division of Nature Reserve Management in the Forest Department of Hunan Province, overseeing some 31 protected areas amongst which, the famous Dongting Lake, was one of China's first Ramsar sites upon its accession to the Convention in 1992. He earned his Ph.D in Ecology in 1997 after four years of study at the University of Helsinki in Finland, and since 1999 has served both as a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Environmental Biology in Peking University and as Yangtze Programme Leader with the WWF China Programme, and is now Director of the Freshwater & Marine Programme, WWF China Programme -- in the WWF post, he has been able to assist the Chinese government in formulating its ambitious Wetland Conservation Action Plan, advise on the national wetland survey, and serve as national focal point for the Mekong River Basin Initiatives. The Bureau staff welcomes Dr Lei warmly and looks forward to his joining us for COP8 in Valencia in a few weeks' time. [29/10/02]