Ramsar COP8 DOC. 21:


[English only]

"Wetlands: water, life, and culture"
8th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties
to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971)
Valencia, Spain, 18-26 November 2002

Ramsar COP8 DOC. 21
Information Paper
English only

Note: This information document relates to draft resolution COP8 - DR 30 on Regional initiatives for the further implementation of the Convention.

Operation and budget of the MedWet Coordination Unit

1. The MedWet Coordination Unit was established in Athens, Greece, in July 2001, following Standing Committee Decision SC25-31 which accepted the proposal submitted by the Greek Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works. A Memorandum of Understanding was subsequently signed between the Ministry and the Ramsar Bureau.

2. The current staffing of the MedWet Unit is shown in the Ramsar Bureau staff chart that appears in Annex I - Attachment 2 in draft resolution COP8 - DR 27 on Financial and budgetary matters.

3. The operation of the MedWet Coordination Unit during 2001-2002 has permitted the establishment of a clear view of the strengths, weaknesses, needs, and challenges facing MedWet as a regional initiative under the Ramsar Convention. Those were described in the report of the audit that was carried out in April 2002 for the MedWet countries. Action to overcome the weaknesses and address the challenges was undertaken during this period, bringing MedWet to an improved level of operation and efficiency.

4. The support provided by the Greek Government was intended to cover the period until the end of 2002, after which the further operation and the modalities of funding of the MedWet Coordination Unit would be decided at the 8th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties.

5. This document provides the background and necessary information for the decision to be made for the continuation of the operation and the funding of the MedWet Coordination Unit.

6. The total budget for the operation of the MedWet Coordination Unit is presented in the draft Resolution on Regional Initiatives for the further implementation of the Convention (COP8 - DR 30). It should be noted that this budget is based on the operational needs identified during the period 2001-2002, and the cost estimates are based on the actual expenditures incurred during this period.

7. The budget shows the proposed sources of funding for each cost item, which are as follows:

a) the commitment made by the Greek Government in the attached letter from the Minister of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works to continue hosting the MedWet Coordination Unit and contribute to its funding with the sum of 160,000 Euro per annum for the triennium 2003-2005;

b) part of the sum included in the proposed Ramsar core budget for the triennium 2003-2005 (see budget line 3 - Support to regional initiatives in draft resolution COP8 - DR 27); and

c) additional contributions by the MedWet countries, which should be invoiced together with the annual contributions to the Ramsar core budget.


Mr. Delmar Blasco
Secretary General
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
28 Rue Mauvernay
CH ll96Gland
SwitzerlandAthens, 17 July 2002
Ref. No: 12479

Dear Mr. Blasco,

Following the proposal presented by the Greek Government to the Ramsar Bureau in October 2000, and the decision SC25-31 of the Ramsar Standing Committee, Greece has undertaken to host the MedWet Coordination Unit in Athens for the years 2001 and 2002. This agreement is reflected in the Memorandum of Collaboration signed in March 2001 between the Bureau and the Ministry.

Our experience by hosting the MedWet Coordination Unit has been very positive. After 10 years of work MedWet has developed into an operational and technically strong network, with a very good collaboration status throughout the Mediterranean. This allows it to provide support and guidance to countries for the protection of wetlands and the promotion of sustainable development.

Besides its direct collaboration with the Mediterranean states, MedWet has acted as a catalyst for establishing collaborations with important actors in the region, such as UNEP/MAP, the Global Water Partnership-Med and IUCN, thereby providing the synergies that are needed to put environmental governance into practice. The successful operation of MedWet is reflected in the recently adopted Athens Declaration by the Euro-Mediterranean Ministers for the Environment where MedWet figures as an example for regional co-operation.

Greece has been a firm supporter of MedWet since its very early days. We also believe that the support provided by Greece for the establishment and operation of the MedWet Coordination Unit has been important in reaching these results. During the past two years a major effort has been made by the Ministry to overcome administrative bottlenecks, and therefore have a smooth operation of the Unit nowadays.

It is for these reasons that Greece has decided to propose the continuation of hosting the MedWet Coordination Unit in Athens for the next triennium (2003-2005). If this is accepted in principle, we propose the maintenance of the current terms with the necessary modifications, which are as follows:

1. Greece will provide the office space that is currently occupied by MedWet in Villa Kazouli, Kifissia, with access and right of use of the standard building facilities, including electricity, heating, telephones and use of the meeting and storage rooms.

2. Greece will also provide financial support of 160,000 EUR per year, to be transferred directly by the Ministry to the MedWet Coordination Unit each year. This sum will be used to cover the following cost items of the Coordination Unit:

- Remuneration and social security costs of 2 technical officers and an administrative assistant working at the Coordination Unit, up to a total sum of 135,000 EUR / year.
- Unit operation costs, including general expenses, equipment and communications material up to a total of 25,000 EUR / year.

The remaining cost items in the annual budget of the MedWet Coordination Unit are expected to be covered by the core budget of the Ramsar Bureau itself and the contributions of the other MedWet countries.

3. Greece will take all the necessary steps for the full legal establishment of the MedWet Coordination Unit in Greece under Greek Law until November this year.

It is our understanding that the issue of hosting the MedWet Coordination Unit will be discussed and finally decided at the upcoming 8th Conference of the Contracting Parties of the Ramsar Convention in November this year in Valencia, as a part of the Resolution concerning the development of regional initiatives for the Convention. To this respect, we would request that you inform the Contracting Parties about the Greek proposal for hosting the MedWet Coordination Unit in Athens for the next triennium. Our proposal should also be duly reflected in the Resolution on Regional initiatives.

Following the approval of this Resolution by COP8 in Valencia and before the end of 2002, we would be ready to sign with you the new Memorandum of Collaboration, which will reflect the above mentioned terms, so that the operation of the Unit may continue from 1 January 2002 without interruption.

I will be looking forward to your reply.


Vasso Papandreou
Minister for the Environment
Physical Planning and Public Works

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